Right-hander Victor Alcantara and first baseman John Hicks have elected to become free agents rather than accept outright assignments to Triple-A, the Tigers announced. Left-handers Daniel Stumpf and Blaine Hardy also chose to test the open market, as reported earlier today.
Alcantara posted a 4.85 ERA over 42 2/3 innings for Detroit in 2019, with an impressive 53.6% grounder rate that was undermined by a lack of missed bats (5.06 K/9) and a difficulty in keeping the ball in the yard (17.8% HR/FB rate) when he did allow a fly ball. Alcantara’s minor league numbers reveal more strikeouts and more walks allowed than he delivered at the MLB level, though his improved control seems to be resulting in more contact and more mistakes being taken out of the park.
Hicks seemed like an intriguing building block for the Tigers as a player who could at least split time between catching and first base, though while his bat played well for a catcher, a decrease in time behind the plate (Hicks played exclusively at first base in 2019) lessened his effectiveness. Hicks only hit .210/.240/.379 over 333 plate appearances last season, a big step down from his more respectable .262/.317/.416 slash line over 502 PA in 2017-18.
MLBTR’s arbitration projections put Hicks in line for a $1.7MM salary in 2020, which the Tigers will now sidestep. Between the projected costs for Hicks, Stumpf, and Hardy, Detroit’s projected arbitration costs have already dropped by a cumulative $4.3MM.