What the Tigers should do at each position for the rest of the 2020 season and beyond

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    In this 60 game sprint, we have already reached the midway point of the season and the Tigers are playing slightly above expectations, despite a recent 9 game losing streak, the team is just 4 games under and only 2 games out and while 12-16 may not be all that impressive, Tigers fans will take it considering last August was the second-best month of their 47-114 season, they finished 8-21.

    With it already being the midway point and the trade deadline being just 5 days away, I have been growing very interested on what the Tigers are going to do for the deadline and what their plans are for the 2020 offseason, enough, that I decided to carve up my own list of what to do. As we get later in the year to the actual offseason, I plan are dropping another article of a revised list, here is what I would do at each position for the rest of 2020 and beyond.


    What I want the rest of the season

    One of the bigger improvements for the 2020 Tigers was that they finally added themselves a major league catcher in Austin Romine. Romine got off to a very nice start but has faded a little bit to a .268/.288/.394 slashing line which Tigers fans will take after catchers combined for a .186/.234/.321 slash line for a -3.3 WAR. However, one thing I’m displeased with is that Jake Rogers is still at the alternate site. Even though Greiner has improved this season, Rogers should be the top priority and his development is much more important than Greiner’s which is why I don’t understand the point of continuing to hold him down. I liked what I saw from Rogers in spring training as he went out of organization and dropped his leg kick but he hasn’t seen any big league pitching which is what he should be doing the most considering his struggles last season. I do however believe it’s a matter of time that he gets called up, and I’ll be shocked if he’s still down come September 1st.

    What I want after this season

    With Rogers as the main focus, I expect him to get his biggest opportunity to prove that he is worthy in 2021. However, the Tigers don’t want to make the same mistake as they did in 2019 and have no replacement if Rogers struggles or goes down. I think the most simple thing the Tigers can do is resign Romine a 1 year deal of an AAV for 3-5 million, if he takes it, I want Rogers and Romine taking about 50/50 starts early and slowly over time giving Rogers more starts as he syncs in. If Romine wants to test the market, I would hope Tigers give a veteran guy the same amount of money, some options early on I like are Robinson Chirinos who’s struggled in 2020 but has been consistently an above average hitter and a definite bounce back candidate. Alex Avila is a well known name in Detroit and they even had an offer for him before being outbid by the Minnesota, Avila is a very good veteran that has incredible discipline and his last show with the Tigers he had very good production and was used in the deal that got Detroit Isaac Paredes and Jeimer Candelario. Some other guys I’d really like are Tyler Flowers, Kurt Suzuki, and Jason Castro so there is a lot of options and the Tigers don’t necessarily need to force themselves into resigning Romine.

    First and Second Base

    What I want the rest of the season

    It was a disappointment 3 weeks ago that CJ Cron had to have that injury which has left a hole at first base and has had Jeimer Candelario having to move across the diamond to play first base which hurts the team as Jeimer has been an elite defender at third base. However, one idea that me and others have tossed around is moving veteran Jonathan Schoop to first base for some games and giving Isaac Paredes and Willi Castro some reps at 2nd. This would only happen every 4 or 5 games, but it gives us an opportunity to see Paredes at second base, as with the horrible depth in the minors, Paredes turning into Detroit’s second baseman of the future would be ideal with Torkelson and multiple third baseman being drafted in the last 2 drafts. For Schoop, another idea would be shipping him somewhere and while it’s easier said than done, teams like Oakland or Miami could be potential suitors for a month of Schoop, though I doubt that happens.

    What I want after this season

    For first base I think it’s pretty simple, resign CJ Cron for under market value. With questions about how much players will be making with the revenue being lower this year, CJ Cron, coming off a knee injury is a perfect guy that the Tigers could resign for very cheap. The injury is not going to help him on the market that is already unfriendly to low end starters like Cron, coming off the injury, I think it would be super smart for the Tigers to simply resign him for an extra year for a 1 year deal between 2-4 million to be the 2021 first baseman. If Cron doesn’t want to come back, there aren’t many more options in the free agent market, one guy that could come to Detroit as a bounce back candidate though is Jake Lamb who has hit the ball very hard, but doesn’t have much to show for. He had a wOBA of just .297 in 2019, but an above average barrel rate, exit velocity, which made him have an xWOBA of .346, so the bounce back potential is there. Justin Smoak, a guy who I’ve wanted in past free agency’s is another option.

    For second base, it’s a lot more bleak what the Tigers should do. Schoop is a very good option for 2020 but it’s questionable what the Tigers will do. If I’m in charge, I would play Paredes at second and rock with him as the 2021 option there, but seeing the Tigers playing him at third, it makes it a lot more questionable whether that would happen. I’m interested to see what they do with Jonathan Schoop, he’s hit the ball really well and might get a decent amount on the market though again, guys in Schoop’s level who are about average regulars don’t seem to get much so the Tigers might be able to get him back for another year. I wouldn’t be comfortable if the Tigers rock with Willi Castro at 2nd in 2020, but I don’t think the Tigers want that either. If the Tigers want to sign a free agent, some guys that would work are Cesar Hernandez who has less upside but a lot higher floor of Schoop and wouldn’t make much sense for the Tigers to just resign Schoop. Other options are Jason Kipnis or Brad Miller, Miller I especially like because he hits the laces off the ball and could flourish in a everyday role with Detroit.


    What I want the rest of the season

    Niko Goodrum earned an everyday role as the starting shortstop for 2020 and has had mixed results, struggling with the strikeouts and not able to find consistency. Goodrum has however has smoked the ball when he’s made the contact and has a very good launch angle resulting in a 13.8% barrel which is in the 85th percentile and a well above average xwOBACON which is the expected wOBA when he makes contact. It just the when which is the biggest problem in Niko’s game as his 36.2% K rate is in the bottom 5% of the league. The rest of the season I would like to see Niko continuing to get everday reps as I think one of the important things this year is figuring out how value these guys are apart of the future. Niko has a lot of upside, he could be a 20/20 player at the top of his game, but he has notable weaknesses. However I do want to see Willi Castro get a few starts at shortstop here and there. One thing the Tigers could do is try Niko in the corner outfield spots a few games, very rarely, but it gives them a chance to see if he can play in the outfield which is easily the biggest weakness of this team.

    What I want after this season

    With Niko and Willi, the Tigers don’t have too many worries at shortstop for the near future. I would like to see the Tigers go ahead and sign a huge name at shortstop like Lindor or Story or Javier Baez down the road, but for 2021 I think rocking with Niko Goodrum and Willi Castro is a very solid duo. I’d like to see the Tigers go out and add another depth shortstop in the minor league free agent market (maybe find themselves another Niko Goodrum) to provide depth as Niko has been injury prone over the years.

    Third base

    What I want the rest of the season

    Third base is easily the strong suit of this organization as they are loaded with talent up and down the system. For the rest of the season I think it’s simple what I want and what the Tigers will do: Isaac Paredes. So far the dude has looked legit, working the count every time and pouncing on mistakes and I think Paredes is the most impactful hitter in the lineup with his discipline and ability to work the pitcher. I’m really not a big fan of Willi Castro and couldn’t really care if he gets any starts at third, if I’m manager I’m not starting him once, focusing only on shortstop and second base when it comes to him. It would be nice to see Jeimer get a few games at third base as I earlier mentioned with starting Schoop at first and Paredes at second, but I have little expectation of that happening.

    What I want after this season

    With all the young guys that you have that can play third base, I really don’t think third base is a worry this offseason. To answer the question of who starts at third, I think that they will start Jeimer and move Paredes to second and if they don’t that is a missed opportunity. No matter who it is, the Tigers are set at third base.

    Left field and Right field

    What I want the rest of the season

    The corner outfield is easily the biggest hole of the team has just one player that has been above replacement level being Victor Reyes. The struggle of Christin Stewart cannot be ignored and I think that it’s getting close to the end of the Christin Stewart experiment as he hasn’t been able to be even replacement level on both sides of the ball. What I wish the Tigers would do is give Travis Demeritte another opportunity at the major league level. Demeritte didn’t put up good numbers .154/.214/.231 with a 20 wRC+, but it was only 14 plate appearances and of the 6 batted balls he had, he managed to barrel 1 of them and had an average exit velocity of 91.9 which is close to the 90th percentile. Demeritte might strike out a lot and this might be an overreaction on his short sample size, but my question is would you rather take the chance and get a look at him starting him in right, or would you rather see Jorge Bonifacio struggle to hit a ball 4 times a night? I’ve liked what I’ve seen a lot and frankly I would rather have him starting everyday than Christin Stewart. The other guy I want to see is Derek Hill. Again, I would much rather have Derek Hill up than an injured Cameron Maybin. I wonder when they will move on from him as he isn’t really needed at the moment. Hill is such a good defender and he is a guy that will benefit getting AB’s and be useful in defensive substitutions and pinch runner situations. If I’m in charge , I’m DFAing Bonifacio, placing Maybin on IL if he’s hurt and if not DFAing him, and recalling Hill and Demeritte, starting Demeritte everday in right field and Victor Reyes in left. I will give Stewart opportunities though starting him likely every second or third day in left and Reyes in right.

    What I want after this season

    My main free agent priority is in the outfield for the Tigers in 2020. The outfield is clearly and they really don’t have anyone special coming up as I don’t see Greene coming up until at least 2022. That said, I think that the Tigers should open the checkbook this offseason at left field. The Marlins are a great example of what I want the Tigers did, as they paid Corey Dickerson a 2 year deal worth 8.75 million AAV. I think that the Tigers could even top the Marlins and go up to 10-14 million, but overall whatever is enough to a legitimate major league bat starting in left. The first guy that comes to mind is Joc Pederson. It is unlikely the Dodgers will retain Pederson, and his bat presence is perfect for the Tigers. I don’t think he will cost too much but that is the type of guy I would want on a multi-year deal. Some other guys to mention, Marcell Ozuna could be a grab but with his 1 year, 18 million dollar deal and him hitting the ball even better, I doubt he will be in the Tigers price range. Michael Brantley could also be an option but I think he goes to a contender and I think the Tigers will be thrown off by his age. I also would want the Tigers to get a veteran guy in RF as well. The next big name to come up will be Daz Cameron likely in 2021 who will make a bid to be a future guy in the OF, but I would like the Tigers to bring in a guy that can start for the first half of the season. One guy that I just have that feeling will be in a Tigers uniform is Kevin Pillar. There were reports of the Tigers getting close to sign Pillar before the Red Sox swooped in and signed him but a FA this season, I just have that feeling that Avila and the front office will fall in love with him as a player and sign him to a 1 year 3-5 million AAV deal. If I had to pick someone I want, I would have Josh Reddick come in on a 1 year deal with 6-8 million AAV but I don’t think that he is in Tigers price range if they’re looking for a short term RF. Other options, Domingo Santana could be a guy if the Tigers want to add a low risk high reward bat, Nick Markakis if he doesn’t have much interest could be an option as well.

    Center Field

    What I want the rest of the season

    Jacoby Jones is the only legitimate major league outfielder as of right now for the Tigers and despite his recent struggles, Jones is a guy that should stick around for the rest of the year as the starting center fielder. There’s been some talk of people on twitter and instagram advocating to trade him but I don’t buy into trading him as who is going to replace his spot in CF? Jones may not be the best, but he’s at least worth starting everyday the rest of the season without much worries.

    What I want after this season

    For 2021, I don’t expect any movement in the CF job. As I mentioned, Jacoby Jones is the only MLB level outfielder in Detroit and there is no reason to do anything that would counter him playing everyday to start 2021. Now, Jacoby Jones has struggled pretty badly since his hot start which you could assume is from pitchers being a lot more careful with him, but if Jones continues to struggle into 2021 then I think it’s reasonable to scrap him in the future plans as Riley Greene should be coming up soon after 2021. For now though, Jones is the guy in CF.

    Designated Hitter

    What I want the rest of the season

    This shouldn’t come as a surprise but it’s obvious that Miggy is going to be the guy at DH for the rest of the season. He has struggled pretty badly, but he’s still hitting the ball hard and there’s still time for him to get synced up. He looked very good in the spring and it’s just timing for him at this point and possibly working on his launch angle as he has hit the ball on the ground quite often this year.

    What I want after this season

    Once again there’s not really much you can do when you’re paying a guy 30+ million other than at least starting him every day. Cabrera may not be his old self but he’s not this bad and his x numbers show that he’s been very unlucky this season. I think he will be at least average for 2021 and he is still a better option at DH than pretty much anyone in the organization, so, Miggy is the DH for now, 2021, and likely until his contract is up.

    Starting pitcher

    What I want the rest of the season

    The starting pitching got off to a real bad start in 2020 as Boyd has been awful, Nova was bad as well but expected, and they really didn’t have a 5th starter once Zimmermann went down, so it was clear that it was time to call up some of the young guys which the Tigers did calling up Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal. While they aren’t going to be great this year, they are rookies that are benefiting tremendously facing live MLB hitters rather than being at the alternate site. For now, I would like them to be getting starts everyday and possibly Matt Manning or Alex Faedo come up and make one or two, or just come out of the bullpen later in the year. Boyd has bounced back in his last 2 starts and will be someone that should be continued to be followed and Spencer Turnbull has continued to look good. One thing I would change however is that Michael Fulmer is starting over Daniel Norris. Norris’s stuff has been much better this year and they may be because he’s in the bullpen right now, but he has been going 3-4 innings in the bullpen and I don’t understand why Fulmer is starting and he’s been one of the worst starting pitchers in Major League Baseball so far. I’m not going to pin it on him, knowing that he’s off of Tommy John Surgery, but I’d much rather see him in multi-inning relief appearances rather than Norris who’s capable of starting. I would like to see Skubal and Fulmer share starts as both are on a pitch count, it’s just the most sensible.

    What I want after this season

    For 2021, if I had to guess the rotation likely is going to be Turnbull, Boyd, Mize, Skubal, and Michael Fulmer or Daniel Norris for the 5th spot. Matt Manning who could be an option but I believe will be on the brink of a call up going in and wait a month to make sure he’s fully ready and get an extra year of service time. They also have Franklin Perez who is on the 40-man a long with Alex Faedo who all should be close to big league ready so the Tigers are pretty loaded with depth. However, pitching injuries are so common so I’d still like to see the Tigers add 1-2 veteran guys on minor league contracts, preferably someone with upside, kind of like Zack Godley last offseason. One thing I wonder is if the Tigers will listen into offers on Spencer Turnbull and Daniel Norris. The way they’ve pitched it seems very possible a team like the Rays could call up the Tigers for one or both of these guys as they have a SP need and are loaded with farm talent so it’s a perfect match. I’m very on the fence when it comes to trading Turnbull, if the Tigers can get legitimate young talent then I think they definitely should take it as they don’t want another Michael Fulmer or Matt Boyd happening to them but there also is a piece of me that thinks Turnbull will turn into a 1 or 2 starter with a much smarter team that will know how to utilize him much better knowing the front office. Turnbull’s name will likely be in trade rumors I would assume this winter.


    What I want the rest of the season

    The last part of the Tigers, the bullpen has definitely been the most surprising unit in 2020 as it had expectations to be one of the worst but instead has been more in the middle of the pack with the breakout of Greg Soto and guys like John Schreiber, Bryan Garcia, and Jose Cisnero pitching unexpectedly very well. While I don’t expect there to be much trade interest in anyone, the only guy I would trade comfortably is Joe Jimenez as I just don’t think he is going to work in Detroit, and I think a team, like the Rays or Astros, could utilize him to become a legitimate piece as he has the stuff and I’m sure their coaching could get the upside out of him. Why I don’t want the Tigers to trade anyone else? I think just like Jacoby Jones, you don’t have good enough depth in the minors to account for giving up the guys and you don’t have anyone that’s going to get supreme value besides maybe Greg Soto but it’s not worth trading him as he appears to have closer potential. Getting rid of a controllable guy like Garcia, Cisnero, or Farmer to me is just taking a step backwards even if they’re outpeforming, unless a team overpays I don’t think they will bring in enough value to benefit the team. I also want to mention that I would like to see later in the year the likes of Nolan Blackwood and Shao Ching-Chiang log in a couple innings as both showed promise in spring training and summer camp and will be interesting to get a look at.

    What I want after this season

    As I mentioned, the bullpen has been fairly good this year and there are some nice bright pieces that the Tigers have under control for a long time. For this offseason, other than making sure they have appropriate depth, I don’t really think that they need to make too many moves to improve the bullpen as it’s a young unit that’s only going to get better. Tyler Alexander may not be the best situational left hander however and I could see the Tigers signing a cheap lefty like Brett Cecil or Jake McGee or cheap deals to be that guy.

    My Ideal 2021 Roster

    With my preferences, here is what I would want for the 2021 roster with free agent signings:

    1. CF Jacoby Jones
    2. 2B Isaac Paredes
    3. LF Joc Pederson (3 yr/12m AAV)
    4. 1B CJ Cron (1yr/4m AAV)
    5. 3B Jeimer Candelario
    6. RF Josh Reddick (1 yr/8m AAV)
    7. DH Miguel Cabrera
    8. SS Niko Goodrum
    9. C Alex Avila (1yr/5m AAV)

    C Jake Rogers, INF Willi Castro, UTIL Harold Castro, OF Travis Demeritte

    1. Spencer Turnbull
    2. Matt Boyd
    3. Casey Mize
    4. Tarik Skubal
    5. Daniel Norris

    CL Greg Soto

    SU Buck Farmer

    SU Joe Jimenez

    MR Bryan Garcia

    MR John Schreiber

    MR/Specialist Brett Cecil (MILB deal)

    MR Kyle Funkhouser (Possibly Blackwood or rule 5 pick)

    LR Michael Fulmer

    This roster would be so much better and while the Tigers would have to open the checkbooks, Jordan Zimmermann was paid 22 million in 2020, the 4 free agent adds would cost a total of 29 million, so basically Zimmermann and Schoop’s contracts. With that lineup, with the young arms, the Tigers might actually be competitive. While I wish the Tigers would do something like this, my expectations are very low. I’m hoping the 2020 offseason for the Tigers is one that they take strides, as I’m very excited to see competitive baseball in Detroit.

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