As we mentioned on Wednesday, when speculation arose that the Tigers might be keen on free agent catcher Robinson Chirinos, it seemed clear Detroit was hoping to lock down a veteran free agent catcher before the end of the 2019 Winter Meetings. Now, as reported first by Chris McCosky, they have signed with former Yankees catcher, and free agent, Austin Romine, to a one-year, $4.15 million deal.
Romine, the 31-year-old brother of former Tiger Andrew Romine, might be best known to Detroit Tigers fans as one of the main parties in a 2017 brawl that saw the benches at Comerica Park empty in dramatic fashion several times in the same game.
The event resulted in several suspensions all around and no shortage of bad blood between the two teams even into the next season. It bears mentioning this event simply because grudges in baseball do exist, and Romine and Cabrera will be sharing a clubhouse all season.
Beyond the tension between players, though, Romine is an interesting acquisition for the Tigers. In eight seasons with the big league club in New York, he has a .239/.281/.366 career line. In 2019 his CS% was a staggering 30% (over 70 games, as he split time with Gary Sanchez). He most reason wRC+ was a slightly below average 95, and Steamer projects he’ll be at about an 83 in 2020.
Ultimately he’s a good catcher who is not a substantial bat offering in the lineup, but will be a good fit to split time with Grayson Greiner and Jake Rogers over the season. While not as offensively dazzling as Chirinos was on paper, Romine is a good fit to platoon in a limited season capacity with Grayson Greiner and Jake Rogers. And if he does well, he could see himself taking on a majority of the games without a guy named Gary Sanchez blocking him.