The Tigers have reached a minor-league deal with veteran infielder Alexi Amarista, according to Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free-Press (Twitter links). He’ll receive an invitation to participate in MLB camp.
Amarista, 28, spent the 2017 season with the Rockies. The Colorado organization declined a $2.5MM club option for the coming season, preferring instead to pay him a $150K buyout.
There’s little to love about Amarista’s offensive profile. He has never hit much, but his output has not even kept pace with the standard he set earlier in his career, when he was a heavily used player with the Padres. Over the past three seasons, Amarista owns a marginal .225/.268/.301 slash line with six home runs and 15 steals over 683 plate appearances.
Clearly, the work with the bat does not explain Amarista’s appeal. Rather, it lies in his defensive versatility. Amarista has spent most of his career playing the middle infield, especially short, and also has significant time at thrid base and across the outfield (including in center).
For Detroit, Amarista represents some much-needed veteran depth. He could challenge for a reserve role in camp along with fellow non-roster invitee Pete Kozma. Yet more opportunity could open up if the Tigers end up dealing shortstop Jose Iglesias.