The annual Major League Baseball Winter Meetings have come and gone, and while the Detroit Tigers did not make any significant moves, they did manage to fill one of their more pressing needs behind the plate, as well as picking up a few players during the Rule 5 Draft. None of these guys really moves the needle much for the team, but with the club dwelling at the bottom and needing to fill several holes, it was a decent start.
Tigers sign Romine, select Garcia
The biggest news of the week for the Tigers was the signing of catcher Austin Romine to a one-year contract. The former New York Yankee and younger brother of erstwhile Tiger Andrew Romine does not offer much with his bat, but grades out decently behind the dish. While he served as a backup for the entirety of his career, never playing more than 80 games in a season, he is considered a positive clubhouse presence and could serve as a fine mentor for Jake Rogers and Grayson Greiner.
Solid signing in Romine. With catching options dwindling - Jason Castro was never going to fall into the Tigers’ price range - they get a hard-nosed guy who has earned a chance to start. Maybe there’s more there.— anthony fenech (@anthonyfenech) December 12, 2019
On the Rule 5 side of things, the Tigers selected Rony Garcia with the first pick of the draft. The report on former Yankees farmhand is that his primary tool is his fastball, which sits in the mid-90s after a modest boost after the previous offseason; more importantly, he can throw the pitch for strikes. While he has some breaking balls at his disposal, the jury is still out on how well those secondary pitches will develop — those will be important to his success as he lacks a usable changeup to keep batters off-balance. (Note: Garcia is throwing a changeup in the picture below)
Overall, signing Romine and selecting Garcia appear to be safe, low-risk moves that should be expected from the Tigers at this point in the rebuild. The acquisition of the former appears to meet with the general approval of the Detroit media, and with a one-year low-cost contract, the reward figures to be higher than the risk. Garcia, on the other hand, probably will not help this team in 2020 — though with the extra roster spot added this coming season, he also will not hurt the team either — and figures to be stashed away in the bullpen for mostly mop-up duties, unless the injury bug gets vicious.
#Rule5Draft is complete. #Tigers take three names and don't lose any unprotected players of their own:— Emily Waldon (@EmilyCWaldon) December 12, 2019
21-year-old RHP Rony Garcia (Yankees)
23-year-old RHP Ruben Garcia (Orioles)
23-year-old INF Brian Schales (Twins)
Burying the hatchet
Speaking of Austin Romine, some Tigers fans might remember his role in a bench-clearing brawl back in 2017 when the Tigers played against the Yankees. During the altercation, he and Miguel Cabrera faced off with each other, resulting in a suspension for Cabrera as well as Gary Sanchez. As far as Romine is concerned, that is all water under the bridge.
New Tigers catcher Austin Romine on 2017 benches-clearing brawl with Miguel Cabrera: "No hard feelings. I feel like baseball takes care of itself. You have two guys out there protecting their teams. That's just baseball. It was an unfortunate circumstance but you move on."— Jason Beck (@beckjason) December 13, 2019
The most important off-field move
Not all of the stories from the past week are focused on player transactions. While Gerrit Cole was negotiating a contract the size of a small country’s GDP, many franchises were busy building up their intellectual stock in the form of executives and coaches.
For the Tigers, their acquisition of director of pitching development and strategies Dan Hubbs, who was formerly the head coach of USC for the past seven seasons, was their big splash. In a survey taken by USA TODAY Sports, Hubbs’ signing was selected by more than two dozen baseball executives and officials as one of the most respected moves of the offseason.
On a side note, former Tiger Don Kelly also made the list as the Pittsburgh Pirates’ new bench coach. Too bad the Tigers could not bring him on board as well.
A Mize-merizing performance
Minor League Baseball has anointed Casey Mize’s no-hitter in his debut appearance for the Erie SeaWolves as the Best Performance of 2019. The rest of the top ten can be read here.
Miguel Cabrera was the best hitter of the 2010s
Despite a precipitous drop in performance over the second half of the decade, Cabrera still finished off with the highest batting average of any player with a minimum of 3,000 plate appearances.
Over the last decade, these players were anything but average. pic.twitter.com/9lFoa7DNyk— MLB Stats (@MLBStats) December 13, 2019
Brewfest in Toledo
Sample craft beers ON THE FIELD tomorrow during Winter Brewfest! We'll have several tasting stations on the field, in addition to the main concourse.— Toledo Mud Hens (@MudHens) December 13, 2019
Info / tickets ➡️ https://t.co/Jnpdh1rqKK pic.twitter.com/i4crsxsHiK
- Tigers checking on free agent infielder Travis Shaw, per report. The slugging corner infielder could do a lot to improve one of the league’s worst lineups.
- The Tigers were interested in Nomar Mazara, but the White Sox got him first. More importantly, the Tigers are looking to improve for 2020 and beyond.
- Tigers showing interest in C Robinson Chirinos, per report. The catcher most recently appeared in the World Series with the Astros.
- Domingo Santana could power up the Tigers outfield. The Tigers have a lot of outfielders, but few legit bats to lean on.
Around the horn
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