Major League Baseball took all the fun out of what was once an important trade deadline on August 31, by moving it back to the end of July. But the rules remain the same for September call ups — when teams can call up to 40 players to their major league roster and give a look to some prospects who may be part of the team’s future.
Enjoy this while it lasts, though, because in 2020, the new rules limit the number of players on the roster in September to 28. That might result, if anything, in a few more veteran players being let go a month before the end of the season so that non contenders can have a look at some of their younger players.
We already know that Bryan Garcia will be joining the Detroit Tigers in September. He was the No. 29 prospect on our preseason rankings, and will be Rule 5 eligible this fall. He has worked his way up to Triple-A Toledo, and pitched well enough to earn his call-up. In 31 relief appearances with the Mud Hens, the 24-year-old has a 3.33 ERA with a 1.24 WHIP, striking out 33 hitters in 33 1⁄3 innings.
The Tigers likely won’t make all of their moves until Toledo’s season is over on September 2. Here is a list of the most likely players in the Tigers organization to be called up to Detroit for the final month of the season.
Those players who are already on the 40-man roster are the most likely to be called up, because the club doesn’t have to release another player to make room for them. Most of these players in Toledo. The Mud Hens season finishes on Labor Day with no playoffs to be concerned about.
Grayson Greiner. Calling up a third catcher in September is as American as apple pie. Greiner was the Tigers’ starting catcher for much of the season and was only optioned when he came off the injured list and Jake Rogers had been installed as the starting backstop. Expect Greiner to be the primary backup, with John Hicks taking a lesser role.
Jeimer Candelario, the Tigers’ starting third baseman also got the Wally Pipp treatment as the team is having a hard look at Dawel Lugo at the hot corner. After hitting 19 homers with a .324 OBP in 2018, Candy has sunk below the mendoza line with just seven home runs this season, but he has hit very well in Toledo. Both players are out of options after this season. Let the battle begin.
Christin Stewart is another young player who started much of the season in the Tigers lineup was displaced by Travis Demeritte, the young outfielder who was acquired in the deadline trade for Shane Greene. The rookie slashed .239/ .321/ .393 with seven home runs in 285 plate appearances. Of greater concern, his defense has been less than passable, and there is less hope of that getting fixed other than by using him as a designated hitter.
Dustin Peterson the outfielder who drew some looks in spring training and spent some time in Detroit during the season has hit .286/.317/.439 in Toledo, with 11 home runs in 319 plate appearances.
Sergio Alcantara is the only non injured position player remaining on the 40 man roster who has not been called up, and is not likely to make his major league debut just yet. The 23 year old shortstop has one option remaining, and that will be used next spring if he doesn’t make the team, but unless the Tigers decide to unload another infielder, there are probably too many infielders on the roster already.
Tyler Alexander: he’s been up and down this season, often taking a turn in the rotation, giving the Tigers’ starting pitchers a rest from time to time. With the club counting innings on the arms of Spencer Turnbull and Daniel Norris, Alexander might be called up to pitch some innings down the stretch.
Victor Alcantara has to rank as one of the biggest disappointments for the Tigers this season. With a strong performance in 2018 that featured a 2.40 ERA with a 1.03 WHIP in 30 innings, he was expected to fill a major role near the back end of the bullpen, but he sputtered with a 5.31 ERA, with a 1.43 WHIP and giving up 44 hits that included eight home runs in 39 innings of work. In Toledo, he has a 7.24 ERA in 13 innings. He will be out of options after this season, so it could be do or die time if he has another life left.
Eduardo Jimenez worked 10-2/3 innings for Detroit this season, pitching to a 5.91 ERA and a 1.59 WHIP. That’s his entire career in the major leagues. In the minors, he has a 2.45 ERA with a WHIP of 1.02 in 55 innings across two levels. He has done more than Alcantara to earn another shot, but has one option remaining.
Daniel Stumpf has been a part of the Tigers’ bullpen for the past few seasons, working mainly as a lefty specialist, and that’s exactly what he is. His splits show that he should not be used against right handed hitters. With the new three batter minimum rule coming in next season, it’s hard to imagine the Tigers giving Stumpf a major league contract, especially considering that he is eligible for arbitration. He may, however, get a call to finish the season in Detroit, for old time’s sake.
Zac Reinenger managed to stick around to pitch 20-1/3 innings in Detroit this season while amassing an 8.51 ERA while allowing 20 earned runs on 32 hits and 11 walks. There’s nothing to see here, so let’s hope we don’t.
John Schreiber, the closer in Toledo who hails from Wyandotte, Michigan, made his major league debut, but gave up three runs on four hits, including one home run in 1-2/3 innings. In 57 innings for Toledo, he posted a 2.34 ERA with a WHIP of just 1.05. Maybe he gets another look.
Ryan Carpenter made nine stars in Detroit this season, pitching to a 9.36 ERA while giving up 42 earned runs on 61 hits in 40 innings. Well, someone had to pitch.
Rule 5 Eligible players
After those on the 40-man roster, the most likely players to be called up are those who will be added to the roster by November 20 to protect them from being lost in the Rule 5 draft. These players would use an option in the spring if they don’t make the team, but they wouldn’t use one this year if they remain on the roster for the remainder of the season. The club may not wish to let a veteran player go, even if they will be dropped or let go as a free agent after this season, to make room for a new player just yet.
Daz Cameron was acquired in the trade for Justin Verlander, and will have to be protected. After hit .285/.367/.470 for Erie in 2018, the 22 year old outfielder hit just .219/.335/.391 in Toledo this season. He did well in the Arizona Fall League last year, so maybe a return there is more likely than a major league debut.
Beau Burrows and Kyle Funkhouser, two of the Tigers’ top five or so pitching prospects at the start of this season, both had injury plagued seasons in Toledo. Yet both are eligible for the Rule 5 draft and are near certain to be added to the roster. Burrows is still on the injured list, and neither pitcher has performed impressively. Had things gone differently, either one could have been in Detroit by now, but perhaps a winter of rest and strengthening is in order.
Carlos Guzman is the Tigers No. 16 prospect, according to MLB pipeline, but he’s still at West Michigan. Elvin Rodriguez is ranked No 21, and is at Lakeland. Both pitchers are a few years away.
Anthony Castro, the No. 22 propsect, and Jose Azocar, who has fallen off the Top 30 list, will be eligible for minor league free agency. Both are headed to the Arizona fall league.
Derek Hill, No 27 prospect, is also going to the AFL, and cleared the Rule 5 draft last winter as well.
Cam Gibson, Josh Lester, Spenser Watkins, Kody Eaves were all eligible for the Rule 5 draft a year ago, and will be eligible again this winter, but it seems unlikely that they will be called up to Detroit this season.
Jake Robson, Daniel Woodrow, Zac Houston, Troy Montgomery, and Logan Shore will also be eligible. Robson may have a better case than some of the players currently in Detroit, but there are no signs that a call up is imminent for any of these players.
Prediction: Greiner, Candelario, Stewart, Alexander, Alcantara, and Jimenez get called up.