We did it.
Another offseason draws to a close as pitchers and catchers report to spring training on February 11. It is a time of optimism and excitement. Baseball returns, and with it comes much news about the state of the organization.
Doing the work
As the Detroit Tigers roll into the 2020 season, there are a number of positions that are far from sewn up. The emphasis coming into spring, according to Anthony Fenech, is on doing the work and earning your spot. In his most recent installment for The Detroit Free Press, Fenech outlines the position battles coming into camp, which include third base, the outfield, and catcher, to name a few.
A glimpse of the future
According to Jason Beck of MLB.com, the one thing Tigers fans are guaranteed to see this spring is a glimpse of the future. Nineteen of the Tigers’ top 30 prospects will be in major league camp this year. The list is headlined by the likes of Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, and Isaac Paredes. While the team hasn’t been all that shy about letting unproven talent break camp with the major league squad in the past, manager Ron Gardenhire is guarded about that idea for this year. It would seem that the chances of someone like Mize making the Opening Day roster are somewhat slim.
“We want to start putting a good team on the field, and we want these kids to continue to develop,” Gardenhire said. “It’s a dicey little thing to do, but to sit there and say, ‘Well, you’re a young kid coming up and you’re still learning,’ that’s good and fine, but you still have to go out there and play. You have to start getting it done. And that’s what we want to see. We want to see them getting it done on the field and earn their way through this thing, rather than it just be gifted to them.”
Chris Smith signs again
Coming into last season, pitcher Chris Smith signed a minor league deal with the Tigers, then promptly (and unfortunately) injured his arm. The injury required Tommy John surgery and that was about it for Smith’s 2019 season. Coming into 2020, the organization has given him another shot; the Tigers agreed to another minor league deal with the pitcher for 2020. Exact details of Smith’s recovery are unknown, but this deal allows him another chance to show he is of some value to the organization.
Is the worst behind us?
As the organization approaches the dawn of the 2020 season, it’s one in which general Manager Al Avila hopes that the worst is behind the organization.
“I don’t think anybody was trying to hide away from the difficult couple years, three years that we’ve been having,” Avila said. “Went through a full teardown, full rebuild, and now we’re in a process where we’re ready to step up and start getting better.”
With the additions of C.J. Cron and Jonathan Schoop, along with the expected upcoming contributions of homegrown talent such as Mize and Matt Manning, the team is hoping to start showing the promise of the future in Detroit.
Fight for relief
The bullpen, regardless of the success of the rest of the team, has long been an area for the Tigers that could use improvement. Instead of going out and purchasing established and costly talent, the Tigers are looking at cheap but intriguing cast-offs from other teams. There aren’t many locks in the Tigers bullpen, aside from maybe Joe Jimenez and Buck Farmer. MLive’s Evan Woodbery takes a look at how the competition might shake out and who we could see holding down spots in the Tigers bullpen when the dust settles.
Maybe they won’t
After the signings of Cron and Schoop, it was believed that the Tigers would still be looking at the market for possible help in a corner outfield position. As the days have passed, we have seen that crop slowly dwindle as players have signed deals with other teams. Of those who are left, Evan Woodbery thinks only two really make sense; Kevin Pillar and Cameron Maybin are his options, with a very distant “Maybe” resting on Yasiel Puig. The only thing we know is, as we get closer and closer to the start of camp, the odds seem to favor Detroit going with whatever options they currently have in house.
Around the horn
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