As we close out January we are inching ever closer to the date we can look forward to pitchers and catchers reporting to spring camp. We continue to await major moves, and are witnessing small spurts of minor activity, unless we’re looking at the Nationals who just signed Brad Hand, or the Lions who appear to be divesting themselves of generational talent in the name of a retool (for the first time in twenty years I think I prefer my Browns fandom here). While we wait to see if anything else of note is going to occur for the Tigers, let’s look at some links.
Soto is a champ
A little anecdote from the Dominican Winter League that might warm your heart is Gregory Soto — knowing his bullpen was pretty used up — speaking to his manager before the finals and telling him he was ready to go. Soto pitched two innings — bringing his playoff total to five innings and one run — and helping deliver the championship to his team. A.J. Hinch has maintained that anyone in his bullpen should be prepared to pitch multiple innings and so, Tokyo Drift (that’s what I’m calling him and you won’t convince me otherwise) appears to be listening. I’m sure Soto would love the closer role, and is definitely angling for it, but he appears prepared to do whatever the organization asks of him in the 2021 season.
Where will Jeimer go?
We’re a few weeks away from the start of spring training, and Jeimer Canelario still has no idea where he’s going to play for the Tigers this year. With new manager A.J. Hinch in the fold it’s a little more difficult to pin down, seeing as Hinch loves himself some versatility. Al Avila has said that ideally third base is the best option, but as we’ve been saying all off season, free agency is probably going to do more to dictate where we see Candelario this year than anything. Regardless of where it is, as long as his bat is in the lineup, he’s ready to go.
The low key signings continue
The Tigers have signed reliever Derek Holland to a minor league contract. The one time starter has made his bones out of the bullpen in more recent years. Serving as a swingman is his likely role in the event that he manages to stick in Detroit, although his 2018 season as a starter theoretically gives him and the organization some flexibility here.
Lefties and youngsters
A.J. Hinch has made it clear that one focus of the organization going forward is to improve it’s lefty hitting. The upcoming lineup is the best the team has seen in sometime — at least as far as quantity is concerned. Jeimer Candelario, Niko Goodrum, Harold Castro, and Willi Castro are all potential lefties, the quality of that hitting is the current question. Finding more actual production against right handed pitching as opposed to just balancing the lineup with left handed hitters is a story that might be told in who the team signs in the next few weeks.
In other talk, you may be wondering who out of the talented crop of youngsters we might see with invitations to spring training. You would likely expect to see the likes of Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene in a normal season, but this is not going to be a normal season. the scheduling of when major and minor league camps will be held will likely dictate who we see in major league camp for spring training and when.
Marwin or Mitch?
In the past several days the Tigers have been linked to both Marwin Gonzalez and Mitch Moreland. Moreland makes more sense as he would be able to slot in at first base, provide a left handed bat, and bring some clarity to the Candelario situation by allowing Jeimer to move back over to third base. Gonzalez has played well all over the field in his career, but that’s not the concern with him. His bat in recent years has lacked the kind of steady production required of a specific position assignment and says more super utility than daily player at this stage of the game. But with Detroit and their current outlook, it’s hard to say what they might have in mind.
Around the horn
Chicago Cubs sign Austin Romine to a one-year deal. How Hank Aaron pumped up Denny McLain in Atlanta. The five greatest Michiganders to play for the Tigers. The Yankees strike a deal with the Pirates for Jameson Taillon. Talking collective bargaining with labor lawyer Eugene Freedman.