As we gently dip our toes into the new year, it is acceptable to start the clock on spring training. While the Detroit Tigers haven’t publicly announced an official report date yet, it’s safe to say we are now less than 40 days from the date that pitchers and catchers will begin workouts. Each report of players, like Ryan O’Hearn of the Kansas City Royals, coming in to the new season lighter and uttering some variation of the magical “best shape of his life” statement serves to rustle the hibernating beast that is baseball.
We’re getting there, everyone.
Ready, Set, Go!
With a few new names on the roster, and an acknowledgement that there is still a chance, albeit small, that some additions may occur, Anthony Fenech of The Detroit Free Press takes a stab at projecting the Tigers’ Opening Day roster. Fenech looks at the new acquisitions, and drops Jonathan Schoop and C.J. Cron in to bat fourth and fifth in the lineup, respectively.
Cron and Schoop bring 20-plus home run power and will likely hit fourth and fifth, respectively. It will be Cron’s first season as an everyday player; barring injury, Schoop will be a dependable option for manager Ron Gardenhire. Cron and Schoop, especially, should boost the offense at two of the spots the Tigers struggled most with in 2019.
There are three question marks remaining on the rest of his lineup card, one being in right field. The other two are the final bench spot and the last piece of the bullpen. It’s not a great lineup, but we’ve seen worse.
If you’re close enough to Toledo to frequent Mud Hens games in 2020, you may be in for a treat. Brian Buckey of The Toledo Blade writes that a group of pitchers — Casey Mize, Matt Manning, Tarik Skubal, and Alex Faedo — could be making stops in the Glass City as they make their individual ways up toward the big league club. Beau Burrows and Kyle Funkhouser will both be looking to put together a better 2020. Righthander Anthony Castro, as well as free agent signings like Zack Godley and Shao-Ching Chiang, could make Toledo an interesting spot to watch pitching this year.
Mud Hens Manager Tom Prince doesn’t know who he’s going to get, but he seems to be excited about the possibilities.
“When I get to spring training, I will be able to see a bunch of guys, and that’s what I’m looking forward to right now,” Prince said. “I heard a bunch of good things from some good friends in the Pirates’ system who have seen a lot of these kids come across, and they said it’s a very good problem to have.”
Running out of options
Evan Woodbery of MLive says the Tigers are running out of time and options if they want to fill a corner outfield spot through free agency this offseason. The market for higher-end players has been better than expected, with players actually, you know, signing.
The winter started with seven upper-tier corner outfielders on the market. Four of them have already signed.
Corey Dickerson: two-year, $17.5 million deal with Marlins
Avisail Garcia: two-year, $20 million deal with Brewers
Brett Gardner: one-year, $12.5 million deal with Yankees
Kole Calhoun: two-year, $16 million deal with Diamondbacks
Of the big names that are left, Yasiel Puig is the only realistic option, and Woodbery seems to think that would be a stretch. More likely instead is a cheaper player like Hunter Pence or Cameron Maybin. Aside from that, the Tigers will be rolling the dice and hoping one of the glut of outfielders currently on the 40-man roster steps up.
Brief friend gone and certainly forgotten
Tyson Ross signed a minor league deal with the San Francisco Giants over the weekend that will pay him $1.75 million if he makes the major league club. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because the Tigers signed Ross last year on a one-year, $5.75 million deal that was a disappointment on every level. After pitching a whisper over 35 innings, contributing an ERA north of 6, he was shut down due to a nagging elbow injury. I can’t wait to watch him turn into a quality fourth starter for the Giants in 2020.
Around the horn
Edwin Jackson has pitched for 14 teams, and wants to keep going. Some are of the opinion that he should pitch forever. Before he was starring in his finest work ever, Big Trouble In Little China (don’t @ me), Kurt Russell was a switch hitting infielder in the minors. Yoenis Cespedes brings a little clarity to his ankle injury from last season. It would appear he did step in a hole. It was the whole wild boar part of it that he left out, and the Mets are not pleased. Tigers fans react to the announcement that TigerFest will be held in the summer this year. MLB teams are looking to trade away homegrown superstars, and that’s a problem.