The Tigers announced that infielder César Hernández has been granted his release. He had been in camp on a minor league deal but had an opt-out opportunity this past weekend.
Hernández, 33 in May, spent many years as a solid infielder for the Phillies, mostly as a second baseman. In four straight years from 2015 to 2018, he walked at a rate of 8.8% or higher and stole at least 15 bases. His power also gradually ticked up in that time, going from a single long ball in 2015 to 15 homers in 2018.
He’s been a bit less consistent in recent years as he’s gone into journeyman mode. He split 2021 between Cleveland and the White Sox, hitting 21 home runs but still finishing with a tepid .232/.308/.386 batting line and 90 wRC+. With the Nationals last year, he hit just a single home run and batted .248/.311/.318 for a wRC+ of 79.
He had to settle for a minor league deal this year, joining a Tigers club with some infield uncertainty. Javier Báez was going to be the shortstop despite a disappointing 2022 campaign. Spencer Torkelson also struggled last year but seemed likely to get another shot to at first. Jonathan Schoop was lined up to play second base after a strange 2022 where he was awful at the plate but great in the field, though he could also move over to first if Torkelson’s struggles continued. Jeimer Candelario was non-tendered but Nick Maton was acquired from the Phillies to take over at third.
Hernández could have been behind those guys in a bench role, as he’s played second, third and short in his career, as well as some outfield work. However, they also have Ryan Kreidler and Zack Short on the roster, and acquired Zach McKinstry from the Cubs just yesterday. Tyler Nevin will start the season on the injured list but will jump into this mix once healthy.
The minor league deal that Hernández signed with Detroit would come with a base salary of $1.5MM if he had made the team, but it seems the Tigers would rather pocket that money and fill out their bench with those other options. He was one of several veterans that had automatic opt-outs in their respective contracts, with the first opportunity being this past weekend. Whether he triggered that opt-out or not, it seems he wasn’t going to crack the roster in Detroit and will now be free to pursue opportunities with all 30 clubs.
I know he faded toward the end of spring training, but I still would’ve liked to see him make the Tigers team. Something tells me that he can still be a productive MLB player.
Dumpster Divin Theo
Not if he’s not cut out for Tigger- end of the line last stop
For Love of the Game
While the McKinistry signing is a head-scratcher, Hernandez might be more useful to another team. Hernandez would probably be a better player than Zack Short, and like better than McKinistry as well. However, it would be smarter to let the young guys duke it out for playing time rather than having Hernandez absorb those ABs.
I expect they Tigers will try to pass McKinistry through waivers when they need a spot on the roster. Why he made the Opening Day roster is beyond me….
Nevin doesn’t have any options left, he could make the 26 man roster when he comes off the IL. Maybe McKinstry has a few weeks to prove he belongs on the team. Otherwise, they’ll try to pass him through waivers at that time.
I believe this is exactly the case. Also, Tigers save $1.5MM by releasing Cesar.
McKinstry had good Mib numbers. Better than Torkelson. I guess Tigers hope he can get confident again. Worth a shot. Hernandez had no future in Detroit.
He’ll get picked up by someone, but he might have to settle for a minor league deal. Either way, he’ll be back in the majors this year.
I guess this means Kreidler has made the team.
Yeah, Kreidler and McKinstry got the utility infield spots.
Kreidler will get the RH half of the platoon at 3B, and will likely be the guy optioned when Nevin is ready, as he has options remaining. McK has no options left. The implication that the Tigers went this way to “pocket” the 1.5MM is just way out of line. Both Kreidler and Short outplayed Hernandez this spring.
That will be interesting to see how it plays out. When Nevin comes off the IL, do they DFA him or McKinstry or do they demote Kreidler? I’d say a lot of it depends on how well Kreidler and McKinstry are playing.
I’m also interested to see how they manage to get Baddoo, P. Meadows, Lipcius and Malloy some playing time this season.
@stymeedone… Maybe “pocket” wasn’t the best choice of words, but it seems like you agree with the decision, as do I. Signing a 33-year-old rebound candidate/potential deadline flip seemed inconsistent with Harris’ plan from the get-go, and Cesar didn’t play well enough in ST to earn that $1.5MM. Period.
Dumpster Divin Theo
Cesar is a dog. No really- his mug is on my hounds dog food
I can understand this move, hard to test youngsters out if you’re signing borderline major leaguers. Look for Schoop to be gone next if he doesn’t hit, or if he does a trade. Tigers will have a short leash for veterans, produce or DFA
Really want Schoop to jump out of the box and the Tigers can flip him to Astros to fill in for Altuve. Astros can then use JS for depth after Jose returns.
If not, I could see him being released. Is it too soon to expect Colt Keith to see Motown this season?
For Love of the Game
Yes, too soon for Keith.
I think anything is possible, once he’s past super 2 cutoff I’d be surprised not to see him in majors. They need to push at bats to the kids all year. You can lose 100 games with unproven kids just as easily as borderline vets, but kids can improve! Most of our veterans aren’t going to be better
I understand that they want to give their younger players a chance. But then they put McKinstry on the roster… They must see something in him that nobody else does.
Cesar has 8.154 ML service time. A player needs ten years to qualify for a full pension. It’s going to be tough to get to ten for him. Cesar I wish you luck in finding a team that’ll put you on their ML roster.
I’m sure Cesar has more money than he needs. I’m sure he has made more than $2 mil a year a few times in his career. He won’t starve in retirement, if he’s smart.
According to Baseball Reference, Hernandez’ career MLB earnings is about $31M. I don’t think he’s too worried about the pension.
My first thought too, but he hasn’t really played enough SS to address their depth problem at that position. So probably not.
No great loss. He did not play poorly in the spring but he didn’t play outstanding either. Tigers are better off playing younger players and seeing how they can develop.
This one belongs to the Reds
I always liked this guy. Hope he hooks on somewhere.
As it turns out, the Hernandez signing was a nothing deal.
If he can’t crack that depth chart in Detroit his career is over.
Tigers have depth. They just need hitting. That was never something Hernandez was going to offer. Never understood how he fit.
If you believe McKinstry or Short provide hitting you need glasses. Hernandez has the ability to be close to average. The other two are terrible at the dish.
If Schoop wasn’t on the team getting 5 million guaranteed, he might have made it. Tigers had too many younger guys who have to play. He would be a good AAA depth piece for a contender.
Schoop won’t be around much longer. If he doesn’t hit, they’ll release him within two or three months. If he does, they’ll trade him at the deadline. They will definitely need to free up roster space for one or more infield prospects before long. Next year, Miggy will be retired and that will finally open another spot.
I’ll predict 75 wins this year and 85 next year.
I’m happy the Tigers chose to play youth over a past his prime veteran. I thought Cesar Hernandez was only acquired to trade mid season, a strategy I’m fed up with. I think he will catch on elsewhere.
I want to see Javier Baez, Jonathan Schoop, Austin Meadows and Eduardo Rodriguez all get off to their best all star caliber starts then get traded.
Zach McKinstry got off to a blazing start three weeks in 2021 then stopped hitting ever since. He’s a Toledo/Central Michigan native; a LH bat; plays IF/OF. He was the Cubs’ worst Spring player.
I do not want them to trade Austin Meadows anytime soon. It’ll be a really cool story when the Meadows brothers are playing together in the Tigers outfield.
I thought Parker might make the team out of spring training until he didn’t.
To me, Tyler Nevin makes less sense than Zach McKinstry. I don’t know why the Os called him up last season either. He certainly didn’t earn a spot this spring so why is he on the team?
Signing a 33 year old INF with all the youngsters in camp was a head-scratcher. Harris seems to veer between wanting to develop talent and try to win games for the boss. His main problem is that he has a fraud for a manager who will continue to harm this team until he’s gone back to Houston, hopefully shot out of a cannon, wearing a cape and mask.
The Saber-toothed Superfife
Last year was the perfect storm for trading managers. But one would have to know what goes on outside of the Tiger world….they didn’t hire the Superfife and it never happened.
Pirates will sign him in 2024