As spring training draws near, teams around Major League Baseball are looking to solidify their rosters heading into the new season, and the Detroit Tigers are no exception. With some intriguing free agents remaining available, as well as plenty of positions in need of an upgrade, the Tigers just might add one more player before pitchers and catchers report.
Puig, Pence and Ozuna, oh my!
Our weekly(ish) roundtable discussion already touched on the issue, with the overall consensus being that an outfield bat would be best for the team at this juncture. Cody Stavenhagen at The Athletic appears to agree, with several big names headlining remaining free agent pool who may come reasonably priced if the market remains cool for their services.
Yasiel Puig was the primary target in the roundtable discussion as well as among Tigers fans on social media — and Stavenhagen agrees — as his high energy brand of baseball offers excitement not seen in Detroit since Miguel Cabrera’s heyday. While Puig carries some baggage with his behavioral history, a short multi-year contract at a reasonable cost would be an excellent bridge into the next generation for the team.
Our own Peter Kwasniak suggested Hunter Pence — which I shot down [Ed.: Rude.] — and Stavenhagen gave some points supporting Pence despite his advanced age. If the elderly outfielder still has some gas in his tank, he could save the fans from another atrocity like what was witnessed in 2019. Then again, his body could completely fail and the Tigers would be back at square one, minus his contract value.
Marcell Ozuna also got a mention during our discussion, though the compensation pick relinquished for signing him seems to be a bit too steep of a cost for a talented player with too many long-term uncertainties. Stavenhagen points out the obvious strong points of such an acquisition, but it is pretty much a given the Tigers are not “shopping in that aisle” currently. The point then became moot when Ozuna signed with Atlanta on a one-year, $18 million deal on Tuesday evening.
Several other names round out the list, but the takeaway is that there is still plenty of talent out there for the taking, if the Tigers are willing to talk turkey. Hopefully, they can bolster the team a little bit more in some capacity before heading down to Lakeland.
Arnie Beyeler hired as Erie SeaWolves manager
Former first base coach for the Baltimore Orioles Arnie Beyeler has been named as the new manager of the Double-A Erie SeaWolves. He has previously spent time in the Tigers organization as both a player and scout.
Arnie Beyeler will be the new manager for the Double-A Erie Seawolves, per @RichDubroffMLB.— Evan Woodbery (@evanwoodbery) January 21, 2020
Beyeler is a former Tigers minor-league infielder (1986-1991) who later worked as a scout for Detroit.
He was most recently first base coach for the Orioles.
The 55-year-old skipper has been in baseball for all of his life, playing the middle infield positions in Detroit’s minor league organization for six years, culminating his career at Triple-A but never getting his cup of coffee.
He began his post-playing career as a scout in Florida for his former club from 1992-96. He got his first minor league coaching gig in the New York Yankees organization as a hitting and infield coach for Triple-A Columbus in 1997 and spent three years in the Yankees’ system before embarking on his long coaching journey; he has held many various positions in both the majors and minors since.
After over two decades since departing the Detroit franchise, he returns home to manage one of the most important stepping-stones in the team’s developmental pipeline in Erie. With the current regime’s emphasis on prospect acquisition and development, he will have a lot on his hands for his homecoming.
Fenech’s fourth-most important Tiger
In his ongoing series for the Detroit Free Press, writer Anthony Fenech has been counting down his list of the most important players for the Tigers during the ongoing rebuild. Featured in the fourth spot is catcher Jake Rogers, whose defensive prowess and explosive bat offer a lot of potential.
One unnamed scout had the following take.
“I think he’s going to be an everyday catcher. … He’s never really going to hit for average. … He’s always going to have holes, but he’s going to run into power. … Good defender, good intangibles. … What’s with all the passed balls? That’s a concern. He had more passed balls than some guys that caught 300 innings. … Better velocity gives him trouble; he’s only got one swing that he puts on every pitch.”
It is noted that the catcher is the most important player on the field, and if Rogers pans out he could offer a long-term solution behind the dish. One of his biggest problems is the massive hole in his offensive game — especially in his swing. His all-or-nothing approach produces prodigious dingers, but also comes with an embarrassingly high strikeout rate. If Rogers can continue to progress with the bat and the mitt, he could end up being the crown jewel of the Justin Verlander trade.
A few good men
The last links post included a list of the non-roster invitees to spring training camp in Lakeland, and a few of them are in in a good position to earn a spot with the big league team if they perform well.
Five Tigers were named by Chris McCosky in his article for The Detroit News who have the inside track on making the final cut with club. Outfielder Jorge Bonifacio, relief pitcher and old friend Alex Wilson, recently acquired starting pitcher Zack Godley, first baseman-turned-pitcher Nick Ramirez, and returning for another shot Brandon Dixon were all singled out as strong candidates for making the team.
Hank Greenberg at No. 67
The Athletic continues its series of its Baseball 100 list, with Tigers legend and American hero Hank Greenberg coming in at No. 67. The article does a very nice job framing his history and the role his religion played in his experience as a baseball player, as well as his befriending of Jackie Robinson, among many numerous notable chapters of his story.
Not-so-fun fact: It took Greenberg eight ballots before he was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame, having failed to reach the threshold his first seven times. However, there is little evidence of any nefarious reasons for the delayed induction, as the ballot was packed with future Hall of Famers in his early appearances.
- 2020 BYB Tigers Prospect #21: RHP Paul Richan is a strike-throwing machine. Since he joined the Cubs farm system in 2018, Richan has never walked more than five percent of batters in any of his minor-league stops.
- 2020 BYB Tigers Prospect #20: OF Derek Hill isn’t letting us give up hope. The former first round pick is finally healthy and making some progress.
- Tigers Den Roundtable: Who else should the Tigers sign this offseason? The BYB staff debates which outfielder they would like to see land in Detroit.
- Detroit Tigers history: The 1902 Tigers. It was the year of the not-so-famous Wish Egan.
Around the horn
Baseball Hall of Fame: Derek Jeter gets all but one vote, Larry Walker narrowly wins a spot in Cooperstown. Dave Dombrowski’s legacy could take a hit in sign-stealing scandal. Rubbing Mud: Larry Walker’s unfortunate timing. What if the Astros Win the 2020 World Series? Jo Adell has ‘Franchise Player’ potential.