The Tigers have claimed infielder Buddy Kennedy off waivers from the Cardinals, per announcements from both clubs. The Cards had designated him for assignment earlier this week. The Tigers designated infielder Andre Lipcius for assignment in a corresponding move.
Kennedy, 25, has 40 games of major league experience, all with the Diamondbacks. He has hit a mere .206/.293/.299 in his 123 major league plate appearances thus far, though that’s obviously a small sample size. But in Triple-A last year, his work was much more impressive. He walked more than he struck out, 16.8% walk rate versus a 16.3% strikeout rate, and slashed .318/.444/.481. That production was in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League but nonetheless translated to a 133 wRC+, indicating he was 33% better than league average.
The Snakes designated him for assignment in September and he has bounced to a few rosters since then. He was claimed off waivers by the Athletics towards the end of last season, then was claimed again by the Cardinals in October. That makes today his third waiver claim in the past six months.
The Tigers are likely intrigued by that minor league offense, as well as Kennedy’s positional versatility. He has played all three non-shortstop infield positions as well as a brief look in left field. He also has an option remaining, so they can keep him in Triple-A as depth if he doesn’t earn a spot on the active roster.
The Detroit infield is likely to be Gio Urshela, Javier Báez, Colt Keith and Spencer Torkelson from left to right. There’s a bit of uncertainty there as Keith has yet to make his major league debut, Urshela missed the second half of 2023 due to a pelvic fracture and Báez is coming off the worst full season of his career. Their depth/bench options include Zach McKinstry, Matt Vierling, Andy Ibañez, Ryan Kreidler, Eddys Leonard and Wenceel Pérez. Many of those guys also play the outfield so the depth chart will likely be affected by overall health of the position player mix in Detroit. Kennedy will try to earn his way up the ladder, as long as he continues to hang onto a 40-man spot.
Lipcius, 26 in May, would have been in that mix as well but he has been bounced off the roster for now. He made his major league debut last year and put up a solid line of .286/.342/.400 but in just 38 plate appearances. His 419 Triple-A appearances finished with a walk 12.4% of the time and he produced a line of .272/.363/.419, though that only translated to a 99 wRC+ in last year’s robo-ump-aided environment.
It seems the Tigers preferred Kennedy to Lipcius, so they will now have one week to work something out with the latter, either a trade or passing him through waivers. Lipcius has always drawn plenty of walks in the minors and can also line up defensively all over the diamond. He hasn’t played shortstop since 2019 but played the other three infield spots last year and the outfield corners as well. That versatility and his keen eye at the plate could garner some interest around the league, especially with a couple of option years remaining. If he were to pass through unclaimed, he would stick with the Tigers in a non-roster capacity.