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Tigers acquire OF Austin Meadows from the Tampa Bay Rays

Isaac Paredes and a comp pick will be heading the other way.

Division Series - Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox - Game Three Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images

Well there was a fair bit of speculation over the weekend as to whether the Tigers would make a move to shore up the outfield with Riley Greene down for as much as two months or more. There didn’t appear to be much available in the center field department, but the Tigers found another path here. General Manager Al Avila saw the need, and made a nice move, acquiring outfielder Austin Meadows from the Tampa Bay Rays to fill the void.

The cost was infielder Isaac Paredes, who has struggled to develop after early success as a prospect, as well as the Tigers Comp B round pick in the 2022 draft. We’ve got to say, we’re pretty happy with the deal.

The left-handed hitting Meadows isn’t a particularly good defender, but he can mash. In 2021, Meadows cracked 27 home runs in 142 games, posting a 113 wRC+. That’s 13 percent better offensive production than league average.

Meadows is decidedly a fly ball hitter, posting a 53 percent fly ball rate in 2021. He may want to tone down the loft a bit in Comerica Park. He hits plenty of homers as a result, but tends to run fairly dreadful batting average on balls in play (BABIP) marks due to the high volume of fly balls. However, he’s also fairly decidedly a pull hitter, and Comerica’s right field porch isn’t going to hold him back.

Meadows doesn’t strike out too much, holding a roughly league-average 22.5 percent strikeout rate for his career. He will also draw walks at a slightly above average clip. In particular, Meadows absolutely crushes right-handed pitching, posting a 137 wRC+ against right-handers in 2021. This is a perfect fit offensively for a team that was already lacking a bit in left-handed thump even before Greene went down with a foot fracture last Friday. We won’t be surprised to see Meadows even DH a bit when there’s a right-hander on the mound, particularly once Greene returns.

Meadows isn’t a bad outfielder either, just generally a little below average and limited mainly to left field. He played mostly left field for the Rays last year, posting a negative-two defensive runs saved (DRS) mark. He has plenty of speed for the position, but doesn’t throw well, so he’ll fit right in with the Tigers’ outfield in that regard, but should otherwise be solid.

Meadows is, of course, the elder brother of Tigers’ farm hand Parker Meadows. The elder Meadows was a first round pick, ninth overall, by the Pittsburgh Pirates back in 2013. He’ll turn 27 on May 3, and comes with three seasons of team control. The Tigers will have all three arbitration years, with Meadows due to earn four million dollars in 2022.

We’ve got to give Avila and his front office a lot of credit here. This really is a good fit for the Tigers. A certain managing editor here has been begging the Tigers to convert Paredes into trade currency for years now. The comp B pick is a fair inclusion in the deal. Paredes is still young enough, and with enough defensive versatility, to develop into a solid major league infielder, but the bloom is long off the rose in terms of hoping for a really good hitter there. The power and swing decisions just haven’t improved. Either way, he needs major league reps, and the Tigers just don’t have a place for him at this point.

The Tigers have landed a lefty power bat here that will suddenly give A.J. Hinch a lot of options in deploying his roster. And when they do get Riley Greene back in the lineup, this offense could be a problem for their AL Central competition. We are pleased.