Detroit Tigers – MLB Trade Rumors 2020-06-05T23:25:42Z WordPress Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Tigers To Continue Paying Minor Leaguers, Not Planning Releases]]> 2020-06-02T19:11:01Z 2020-06-02T13:29:39Z
  • A few more teams have committed to paying their minor leaguers for at least the next handful of weeks. The Tigers’ farmhands will continue to earn $400 per week, and there’s “no end in sight,” Chris McCosky of the Detroit News tweets. The club’s also not planning to cut any minor leaguers as of now, McCosky adds. The Rockies, meanwhile will pay their minor leaguers through at least June, according to Thomas Harding of The Yankees are taking the same approach as Colorado, James Wagner of the New York Times relays.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Tigers Considering "Five Or Six Guys" For First Overall Pick]]> 2020-06-01T04:19:54Z 2020-06-01T02:08:17Z
  • The first overall pick, however, is expected to be a position player, as Arizona State first baseman Spencer Torkelson has been increasingly thought to be the Tigers’ 1-1 choice.  Detroit scouting director Scott Pleis didn’t drop any hints to MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis, saying that “we continue to talk” about who the top pick might be, with “five or six guys” included in the final list of potential candidates.  Beyond Torkelson, Callis hears from sources that the Tigers are also looking at several other of the consensus top prospects of this year’s class, such as Austin Martin, Asa Lacy, Nick Gonzales, and Emerson Hancock.  “Officials with other clubs would be surprised if Detroit doesn’t take Torkelson,” Callis writes.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Amateur Draft Notes: Torkelson, Wilcox, Mock Drafts]]> 2020-05-31T02:43:16Z 2020-05-31T02:43:16Z The first round of the 2020 amateur draft begins on June 10, and the growing feeling is that the Tigers will take Spencer Torkelson with the first overall pick.  Torkelson comes into the draft on the heels of an outstanding college career, which Baseball America’s Teddy Cahill notes could have reached historic proportions had Torkelson’s 2020 campaign not been cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic.  The young slugger had a shot at breaking the NCAA record for walks in a season, and Torkelson sat just two home runs away from setting a new Arizona State school record for career homers (a record held by longtime Braves third baseman Bob Horner).  Though Torkelson will miss out on these individual accomplishments and a shot at being part of a potential national championship contender, his Arizona State tenure has already been the stuff of legend, especially considering that Torkelson came to the program on a relatively low profile after not being drafted by a Major League team when coming out of high school.

    Some more on the draft…

    • The NCAA’s decision to give an extra year of eligibility to spring sports will give at least some players extra signing leverage in this abbreviated five-round draft.  As The Athletic’s David O’Brien (subscription required) writes, right-hander Cole Wilcox has the option of returning to the University of Georgia for a do-over of his sophomore year if doesn’t receive a signing bonus to his liking, which “some in the industry believe” is a “top-half-of-first-round” asking price.  (So, in the neighborhood of $4MM, based on the recommended slot prices.)  It isn’t out of the question that the hard-throwing Wilcox is selected within the top 15 anyway based on his strong track record at Georgia, though many prognosticators have the righty in the bottom half of the first round.
    • Speaking of prognostication, let’s give into some mock draft action!  The latest projections are up from The Athletic’s Keith Law (subscription required), Baseball America’s Carlos Collazo, and MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis, and all have identical top threes: Torkelson to the Tigers, Vanderbilt’s Austin Martin to the Orioles with the second overall pick, and Texas A&M southpaw Asa Lacy to the Marlins third overall.  Assuming Detroit does take Torkelson, the O’s are favored to select Martin or at least another position player — Collazo and Callis note that Baltimore could opt to take New Mexico State infielder Nick Gonzales, while Law has heard “rumblings” that Arkansas outfielder Heston Kjerstad could be the pick if the Orioles wanted to spread around their draft pool money.
    • All three mock drafts are well worth a read, as Law, Collazo, and Callis share some reports and rumors about which prospects could be on various teams’ radars, and what particular teams may or may not be targeting on their draft boards.  For instance, the Royals (who pick fourth overall) seem to be leaning towards picking a position player this after focusing on adding pitchers in recent drafts, which could lead them to Gonzales or Florida high school outfielder Zac Veen.  Callis has K.C. taking Gonzales while Collazo and Law have the Royals taking Veen, with Law adding that he has “heard they’re cool on Gonzales.”  Then again, a pitcher might not be out of the question either for Kansas City, as Collazo writes “lately, we’ve also heard Minnesota right-hander Max Meyer linked to this pick.”  As for Wilcox’s placement, Callis projects the Mets (19th overall), Law projects the Nationals (22nd), and Collazo projects the Yankees (28th).
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Tigers Notes: Gardenhire, Wilson, Draft]]> 2020-05-28T14:26:32Z 2020-05-28T14:26:32Z A great deal of focus has been placed on the ongoing salary debate between MLB and the MLBPA, but the health and safety protocol is the other key question that needs to be addressed. That’s particularly true regarding several older coaches, including Tigers skipper Ron Gardenhire, who is at greater risk than a number of his peers. “I’m 62 years old,” Gardenhire said in an appearance on the Power Alley show on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (Twitter link, with audio). “I’ve had cancer, I’ve had blood sugar stuff. I’m prime — and I don’t want to be prime.”

    To be clear, Gardenhire wasn’t suggesting an aversion to returning in 2020 — he joked “give me a walkie talkie” if that’s what it takes for him to manage games — but rather emphasizing the need for proper safety protocols throughout the game. The well-being of Gardenhire and other older coaches with previous health issues is an important piece to the return plan. Gardenhire, who is three years removed from surgery to address a Feb. 2017 prostate cancer diagnosis, acknowledged that he has concerns about a return but also expressed a great deal of appreciation for the thoroughness of safety guideline discussions so far.

    A couple more notes on the Tigers…

    • Right-hander Alex Wilson, who’d returned to the Tigers on a minor league deal this winter, finds himself in a state of limbo with the league’s stoppage, writes Chris McCosky of the Detroit News. The 33-year-old has been working to reinvent himself with a sidearm delivery in hopes of extending his career after a dismal 2019 season with the Brewers organization. “Being 33, I don’t know if anybody is going to give me another job if we wait all the way to next year,” Wilson said of the the uncertainty regarding the 2020 season. Should the league resume, he’d be in strong position given expanded rosters, the need for pitching depth and his recent focus on building up to be able to pitch multiple innings. He’ll turn 34 next winter, and while that may not seem too old to get another shot, Wilson settled for a minor league deal with the Indians in Feb. 2019 despite having had a strong 2018 campaign. It’s understandable, then, that he’s a bit apprehensive about his free agency outlook and very much hoping for a chance to prove himself this year.
    • With the draft drawing closer, Arizona State first baseman Spencer Torkelson seems like the odds-on favorite to go to the Tigers at No. 1. One high-ranking member of the organization, Tigers pitching director and former USC head coach Dan Hubbs, got an up-close look at Torkelson in college baseball and came away highly impressed, as Jason Beck of writes. Hubbs told Beck that Torkelson is “a special player,” adding,  “I think there’s no question he can play first base, and he has enough power to play first base, because there isn’t any part of the park that’s safe.”
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Remembering The Tigers’ 3-Star Sale]]> 2020-05-29T21:17:10Z 2020-05-28T03:04:36Z It seems like long ago, but the Tigers were one of the majors’ most successful teams in the first half of the previous decade. The club won four straight AL Central titles from 2011-14, a span in which it combined for a 366-282 regular-season record and took home a pennant (2012). Success has largely eluded the Tigers since that four-year run, though. Going back to 2015, they’ve posted just one winning season and are now only a couple weeks away from drafting first overall for the second time in three years.

    During the summer of 2017, sensing his bottom-feeding team was a long way from contention, general manager Al Avila launched an aggressive rebuild. In a little over a month, he traded three of the Tigers’ veteran stars for a total of eight prospects. Here’s how those deals have gone so far…

    July 18: Diamondbacks Acquire J.D. Martinez

    Martinez was a failed Astro whom the Tigers scooped up off the scrapheap before 2014 and then saw evolve into one of the most dominant hitters in the game. As a Tiger from 2014-17, Martinez turned a remade swing into a line of .300/.361/.551 (145 wRC+) with 99 home runs in 1,886 plate appearances. However, with Martinez just months away from free agency, the Tigers parted with him in exchange for infield prospects Dawel Lugo, Sergio Alcantara and Jose King.

    Martinez finished the season on a rampage in Arizona and has continued to rake in Boston since 2018, but Lugo’s the only player in the package the Tigers received for JDM who has even played for them. It hasn’t been pretty, as the 25-year-old combined to hit .237/.270/.362 (63 wRC+) with minus-1.0 fWAR from 2018-19. FanGraphs likened Alcantara to ex-Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias a year ago, when he batted .247/.346/.296 in 378 trips to the plate in Double-A. Considering his lack of power, his well-regarded defense will have to carry him to the majors. King, 21, hasn’t advanced beyond Single-A ball, where he put up a meek .209/.283/.279 line in 193 attempts last season.

    Aug. 31: Angels Acquire Justin Upton

    Nearing the end of the August waiver trade deadline, the Tigers swung their first of two massive deals before the clock ran out. Upton inked a six-year, $132.75MM contract with the Tigers under 20 months earlier, and 2017 has been one of his most productive seasons yet. However, with the Tigers launching a rebuild and Upton weeks away from having to decide on an opt-out clause, they decided to let him and the remaining four years, $88.5MM of his pact go in exchange for righties Grayson Long and Elvin Rodriguez. The return hasn’t amounted to much so far – Long retired before he ever threw a pitch in the Detroit organization, though Rodriguez does have some promise. He logged a 3.77 ERA/4.06 FIP in 133 2/3 High-A innings as a 21-year-old last season, and ranks him as the Tigers’ 27th overall prospect.

    Aug. 31: Astros Acquire Justin Verlander

    In one of the most famous buzzer-beating trades in the history of sports, the Tigers shipped off a franchise icon with moments to spare before the deadline passed. Verlander was regularly among the game’s superstar pitchers in Detroit since the first full season of his career in 2006, but as a then-34-year-old, his days as an elite hurler seemed to be in the past. Not the case, though, as Verlander rounded back into form down the stretch in Houston, which he helped lead to a championship in the fall, and hasn’t let up. In fact, he won his second AL Cy Young Award and earned his eighth All-Star nod in his age-36 season in 2019.

    Although Verlander cleared waivers, he still could have used his full no-trade rights to reject the deal. In accepting the move, he cleared the way for the Tigers to receive three prospects in catcher Jake Rogers, righty Franklin Perez and outfielder Daz Cameron (Detroit also paid $16MM of Verlander’s remaining $56MM and gave up outfielder Juan Ramirez as a player to be named later).

    Has anyone from the trio the Tigers landed contributed in the majors yet? Not really. Rogers debuted as a Tiger last season and hit a disastrous .125/.222/.259 (27 wRC+). Perez hasn’t pitched above High-A, and Cameron has had an awful time at Triple-A since he first arrived there in 2018. In fairness to these three players, they’re all still young – Rogers is 25, Perez is 22 and Cameron is 23 – so it’s far too early to write off their careers. In the cases of Perez and Cameron, it’s worth noting that they aren’t far removed from landing on top 100 prospect lists, so there’s still some intrigue in Detroit’s return for Verlander.

    Anthony Franco <![CDATA[The Blockbuster That Brought The Tigers Their Most Valuable Trade Chip]]> 2020-05-24T17:55:01Z 2020-05-24T14:46:21Z The Blue Jays were the talk of the 2015 trade deadline. A few days after bringing in star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki from the Rockies, the Jays struck for the top rental starting pitcher on the market: Tigers’ left-hander David Price. Amidst a seven-year run of pristine durability and general excellence, 2015 was perhaps Price’s peak season. At the time of the deal, he was sitting on a 2.53 ERA over 146 innings.

    It was a fascinating swap for a number of reasons. The 52-51 Jays were only 1.5 games above the Tigers in the standings, making the organizations’ decisions to take diverging approaches at the deadline particularly interesting. At the time, Fangraphs gave the talented, but to that point underperforming, Toronto club a 48.9% shot of reaching the postseason, while the Tigers’ playoff odds sat at a lowly 9.7%. In that context, it makes sense then-Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopolous considered the time right to push his chips in; it’s equally sensible then-Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski pivoted his organization toward a rebuild.

    Just as notable was the steep acquisition cost. The Jays sent the Tigers a trio of left-handed pitching prospects, led by Daniel Norris, who had entered that season as Baseball America’s #18 overall prospect. He’d had some strike-throwing issues in the minors, but Norris looked the part of a potential power mid-rotation starter.

    Unfortunately, Norris has never really made good on that immense promise. In four-plus seasons in Detroit, the former second-rounder has a cumulative 4.56 ERA/4.41 FIP in 396.1 innings. His once-dominant stuff has waxed and waned in that time. Norris quietly had a strong second half in 2019, particularly after being limited to three innings per start in August. Perhaps there’s hope yet for the 27-year-old to find his niche.

    Even if Norris hasn’t turned out the way Detroit fans may have envisioned, the Tigers have gotten plenty of long-term value from the Price deal. Matthew Boyd was arguably viewed as the third piece at the time, behind Norris and Jairo Labourt. (Labourt, then a well-regarded low minors starter, never panned out, even after moving to the bullpen). Boyd had already reached the majors but was viewed as a back-of-the-rotation type. Suffice it to say most didn’t envision him emerging as one of the game’s premier strikeout artists, but that’s exactly what he did in 2019. Among pitchers with at least 100 innings, Boyd ranked thirteenth in strikeout rate (30.2%) while maintaining his long-lauded control (6.2% walk rate).

    Boyd’s 4.56 ERA didn’t match up with those strong peripherals, mostly due to an abundance of home runs. Indeed, he’s a fly ball pitcher who may always serve up a few too many longballs to be a top-of-the-rotation arm. As much as any pitcher in baseball, Boyd could stand to benefit if the ball is less lively than it has been in recent seasons. More than ever, though, teams covet pitchers with swing-and-miss stuff. Between his four-seamer and slider, Boyd has a pair of bat-missing weapons.

    With the Tigers yet to emerge from the rebuild the Price trade symbolically kicked off, Boyd himself could be on the move in the near future. Detroit didn’t actively look to trade him last offseason, but the club also seems unlikely to contend by 2022, his final season of team control. He’ll no doubt pique contending teams’ interest and would bring back a much stronger return than his ERA might otherwise suggest.

    As for the Jays, their story has been told many times, although their fans may not mind hearing it once more. They stormed back in the second half, not only securing a playoff berth but erasing a seven-game deficit to win the AL East. Toronto knocked off the Rangers in the ALDS that year in one of the more memorable series in recent history. Their magical second-half run came to an end in the ALCS at the hands of the eventual World Series champion Royals. Price was instrumental to that success, tossing 74.1 innings of 2.30 ERA ball in the season’s final two months. He parlayed his longtime excellence into a seven year, $217MM deal with the Red Sox that offseason.

    All told, the trade looks like a win for both sides. The Blue Jays got an elite two months from an ace to help propel them to a division title. The Tigers have gotten plenty of valuable innings over the longer term. Indeed, they got their high strikeout, mid-rotation southpaw out of the deal, even if it wasn’t the player anyone expected to it be.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[From Released To Elite]]> 2020-05-20T01:33:01Z 2020-05-20T01:33:01Z J.D. Martinez did not start his major league career in auspicious fashion, but as a 20th-round pick in 2009, it’s remarkable that the outfielder even made his way to the bigs. Houston took Martinez in the draft, and though he was highly productive in the organization’s system through 2011, he was unable to transfer that success to the bigs from the get-go. Martinez amassed 975 plate appearances as an Astro from 2011-13, but he hit a subpar .251/.300/.387 with 24 home runs during that time. Houston gave up on Martinez after that.

    On March 22, 2014, the Astros said goodbye to Martinez, releasing him a half-decade after drafting him. However, Martinez has been on a rampage since then. Thanks to the help of hitting coaches Craig Wallenbrock and Robert Van Scoyoc, Martinez has turned into one of the best offensive players in baseball over the past several years.

    The Tigers signed Martinez to a minor league contract in March 2014, and it proved to be a brilliant move for the club. Martinez became a star that year, in which he posted a line of .300/.361/.551 (145 wRC+) in 1,886 plate appearances. But Detroit, not expecting to be able to sign the soon-to-be free agent before 2018, traded him to Arizona in July 2017 in a deal that netted them infield prospects Dawel Lugo, Sergio Alcantara and Jose King.

    Unfortunately for Detroit, no one from the Lugo-Alcantara-King trio has given the team any value at the major league level thus far, and nobody from the that group is among’s top 30 prospects for the Tigers right now. The D-backs probably don’t have any regrets, then, even though Martinez didn’t last long in their uniform. Over 257 PA in the desert, Martinez batted an incredible .302/.366/.741 (170 wRC+) with 29 homers, helping lead Arizona to a wild-card berth. The Diamondbacks got past that round against the Rockies, but they couldn’t overcome the Dodgers in the NLDS. That proved to be the end of the line for Martinez as part of the club.

    After a drawn-out trip to free agency in the ensuing winter, the Red Sox signed Martinez to a five-year, $110MM guarantee in late February of 2018. There’s a narrative that players decline once they get a large payday, but that’s not the case for Martinez. Since he signed with Boston, Martinez has gone to a pair of All-Star Games, helped the Red Sox to a World Series championship (2018) and batted .317/.392/.593 (154 wRC+) with 79 homers in 1,306 PA. It’s obvious at this point that Martinez, now 32 years old, is among the premier hitters in baseball. Not bad for someone whom a team once gave up on in exchange for nothing.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Tigers Have Just One Guaranteed Contract Beyond 2020 Season]]> 2020-05-19T04:35:01Z 2020-05-19T01:33:20Z 2020 salary terms are set to be hammered out in the coming days. But what about what’s owed to players beyond that point? The near-term economic picture remains questionable at best. That’ll make teams all the more cautious with guaranteed future salaries.

    Every organization has some amount of future cash committed to players, all of it done before the coronavirus pandemic swept the globe. There are several different ways to look at salaries; for instance, for purposes of calculating the luxury tax, the average annual value is the touchstone, with up-front bonuses spread over the life of the deal. For this exercise, we’ll focus on actual cash outlays that still have yet to be paid.

    We’ll run through every team, with a big assist from the Cot’s Baseball Contracts database. Next up is the Tigers … whose list features just one man but a fair bit of money:

    (click to expand/view detail list)

    Tigers Total Future Cash Obligation: $102MM

    *includes buyout of 2024 club option over Miguel Cabrera

    *2024-25 club options over Cabrera ($30MM apiece) vest with top-10 finish in 2023 MVP voting

    Tim Dierkes <![CDATA[Which 15 Players Should The Tigers Protect In An Expansion Draft?]]> 2020-05-18T20:14:27Z 2020-05-18T23:30:43Z In a few weeks, we’ll be running a two-team mock expansion draft here at MLBTR.  Currently, we’re creating 15-player protected lists for each of the existing 30 teams.  You can catch up on the rules for player eligibility here.

    So far, we’ve done the IndiansWhite SoxRaysYankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays, and Orioles.  The Tigers are next.

    We’ll start by removing free agents Jordan Zimmermann, Cameron Maybin, Ivan Nova, Austin Romine, Jonathan Schoop, and C.J. Cron from consideration.

    Miguel Cabrera goes on the protected list by virtue of his no-trade clause.  We’ll also add the Tigers’ vaunted trio of pitching prospects, who have a 2020 ETA: Casey Mize, Matt Manning, and Tarik Skubal.  I’ll put Matthew Boyd on the list as well.  So we’ll lock these five down:

    Casey Mize
    Matt Manning
    Tarik Skubal
    Matthew Boyd
    Miguel Cabrera

    With a lot of flexibility on their protected list, the Tigers would be in a good position to make some trades with other clubs with tighter lists.  We’re left with 10 spots for these 23 players:

    Tyler Alexander
    Jeimer Candelario
    Harold Castro
    Willi Castro
    Jose Cisnero
    Travis Demeritte
    Buck Farmer
    Michael Fulmer
    Bryan Garcia
    Niko Goodrum
    Grayson Greiner
    Eric Haase
    Joe Jimenez
    JaCoby Jones
    Dawel Lugo
    David McKay
    Daniel Norris
    Victor Reyes
    Jake Rogers
    John Schreiber
    Gregory Soto
    Christin Stewart
    Spencer Turnbull

    With that, we turn it over to the MLBTR readership! In the poll below, select exactly ten players you think the Tigers should protect in our upcoming mock expansion draft. Click here to view the results.

    Create your own user feedback survey

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[An Argument For Casey Mize To Make Tigers' Roster]]> 2020-05-16T05:49:11Z 2020-05-16T05:49:11Z
  • Righty Casey Mize, the No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft, may be the best prospect in the Detroit organization. But with a minor league campaign unlikely to happen, Mize could miss out on further professional seasoning this year. So what’s the solution? Well, Evan Woodbery of makes a case that the Tigers should just put him in their rotation this season. Doing so would burn a year of service time, and it’s unlikely Mize would help make the Tigers a playoff-caliber team even in a shortened season, but there’s no denying he is one of the most talented players in the organization. Mize spent the majority of last year in Double-A, where he pitched to a 3.20 ERA with 8.69 K/9 and 2.06 BB/9 in 78 2/3 innings.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Tigers Get A Good Run From A Budget Pickup]]> 2020-05-08T21:33:20Z 2020-05-08T21:32:58Z Niko Goodrum’s lone brush with free agency lasted all of eight days. Cut loose by the Twins at the end of the 2017 season after eight largely uninspiring seasons in the minors, Goodrum signed a minor league deal with the rebuilding Tigers. A last-place club signing a little-known non-prospect drew about as much attention as you’d expect: virtually none. Goodrum got a quick 115-word write-up here at MLBTR after his agents announced the signing on Twitter. You’d be hard-pressed to find any sort of lengthy column penned at the time of the signing. It was a garden-variety minor league depth pickup.

    Goodrum somewhat surprisingly broke camp with the Tigers in 2018 and received sparse playing time that April (19 games, 10 starts). By mid-May, he was hitting under .200 with a sub-.600 OPS. It wouldn’t have been a surprise to see the Tigers cut bait, but the versatile switch-hitter slowly began to turn things around. After his OPS bottomed out at .597 two years ago to the day — Goodrum bounced back with a .253/.320/.450 slash in his final 428 plate appearances. Along the way, he played all four infield positions and both outfield corners. He finished out the season with a slightly above-average batting line, per wRC+, coupling that with good baserunning.

    An average hitter whose manager feels comfortable slotting him pretty much anywhere on the diamond would be a shoo-in for most rosters, and given the state of the Tigers, it was clear that Goodrum had punched his ticket to a 2019 roster spot. Goodrum added center field to his defensive resume early in the 2019 season, but as the year wore on and Jordy Mercer struggled with injuries, he found himself seeing more and more time at shortstop.

    The Tigers surely value Goodrum’s versatility, but his strong work at short in sporadic batches this past season should ensure that he opens the year as the Tigers’ everyday option at that position. In just 326 innings there, Goodrum tallied 4 Defensive Runs Saved, a 3.2 Ultimate Zone Rating and 6 Outs Above Average. Among the 38 players who played at least 300 innings at shortstop this past season, Goodrum’s 8.6 UZR/150 ranked seventh.

    With the bat, Goodrum took a slight step back but still turned in a solid enough .248/.322/.421 with 12 homers and 12 steals apiece. There’s some reason for additional optimism, too, as Goodrum had an above-average hard-hit rate and upped his walk rate from 8.5 percent in 2018 to 9.7 percent in 2019. And despite an unassuming stolen base total, Goodrum ranked in the 92nd percentile of MLB players in terms of average sprint speed. He’s been successful in 77 percent of his career stolen base attempts (24-for-31), so there’s room for him to create some additional value on the basepaths. Making consistent contact has been a problem for Goodrum, though it’s also worth pointing out that his spike in punchouts last year coincided with some knee and groin injuries over the summer. He still whiffed in 26.8 percent of his 2018 plate appearances, so contact will probably continune to be an issue, but last year’s near-30 percent mark might be higher than should be expected.

    If there’s work to be done for Goodrum, it’s in handling certain pitches. The 28-year-old feasted on fastballs (.320/.412/582) and curvevalls (.280/.321/.460) but took home a participation award against most other offerings. Changeups befuddled him (.193/.230/.337), and sliders were downright unfair to him (.157/.214/.216). Given those woeful slash lines, it’s not surprising to see that Goodrum had a swinging-strike rate greater than 20 percent against both those pitch types.

    Goodrum clearly isn’t a star, but the Tigers can control him for four more seasons and he won’t be arbitration-eligible until this winter. A plus defensive shortstop with high-end speed and even average skills at the plate is a nice piece to have, though, and if Goodrum can maintain his stellar glovework at short over a larger sample, he’s the type of player who could surprise a lot of onlookers with a three- or four-WAR season. The Tigers have reportedly received trade interest in him in the past, and given the positives laid out here, that’ll likely continue in the future.

    Goodrum’s trajectory in some ways mirrors that of Marwin Gonzalez (sans the trash can, presumably), as he’s slowly risen from a versatile defender without much bat to an average switch-hitter who can be be played pretty much anywhere. With the Tigers, that’ll continue to be shortstop, but if he’s eventually traded, he could resume his jack-of-all-trades role. We hear a lot about some of the Tigers’ misses and missed opportunities these days, so it’s only fair to give them credit here for finding an asset that the Twins probably wish they hadn’t let slip through their fingers. They’re the ones who ultimately signed Gonzalez, after all. While it hasn’t been a bad signing, that $21MM might’ve been spent elsewhere if Goodrum were still in the fold.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Latest On Michael Fulmer’s Rehab Progress]]> 2020-05-05T17:29:17Z 2020-05-05T17:29:17Z Tigers righty Michael Fulmer appears to be making nice progress in his attempt to rehabilitate following Tommy John surgery. As Chris McCosky of the Detroit News reports, the team finds itself trying to hold him back.

    Fulmer is working out at the team’s Florida complex, so it’s not implausible that he could face live hitters. But pitching coach Rick Anderson says there’s “no chance” of that at the moment.

    Though it seems Fulmer is fully on track from a physical perspective, the team understandably wishes to proceed in a measured and cautious manner. Anderson suggests that the team would like to build Fulmer up slowly from live bullpen sessions into sim game action.

    It’s tempting to think that moving ahead now could set Fulmer up to be ready at the start of the season. But the team is understandably concerned with unleashing Fulmer without full oversight and structure in place. The 27-year-old was once and could again be a key asset for a Detroit organization that is firmly in rebuilding mode at present.

    [RELATED: A Missed Opportunity For The Tigers?]

    Fulmer is controllable through the 2022 season, so the team is wisely taking the long view. That’s probably best for him as well. Fulmer battled knee and other health issues even before blowing out his ulnar collateral ligament. If he’s to return to the quality pitching he provided in 2016-17, Fulmer will need to return to and remain at full health.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Jordan Zimmermann Discusses Future]]> 2020-05-04T23:43:29Z 2020-05-04T23:43:29Z Righty Jordan Zimmermann is entering the final season of his contract with the Tigers. While his time in Detroit is coming to a close, the 33-year-old says he won’t hang up his spikes when the deal expires, as Chris McCosky of the Detroit News writes.

    Zimmermann says he’s “not thinking about retirement now” and intends to “just take it one year at a time.” Instead, he’s focus on finding solutions on the mound — in particular, polishing the sinker that he increasingly utilized in 2019.

    “Yeah, I thought about retiring a few years ago, but coming into spring training this year, I felt really good,” Zimmermann tells McCosky. “I haven’t had any issues. I still have the drive and I still love the game.”

    Zimmermann has always put in the effort but hasn’t had the results since moving to Detroit. He gave the Nationals over a thousand frames of 3.32 ERA ball, setting the stage for a $110MM deal with the Tigers. But Zimmermann has struggled with injuries and has limped to a brutal 5.61 ERA in his 508 2/3 innings over the past four seasons.

    Zimmermann is owed $25MM for the 2020 campaign, though he’s likely to earn only a portion of that due to the shortened season. He no longer has full no-trade rights — he can block deals to all but ten teams — so it’s possible he could be moved during the season if he’s able to bounce back.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Tigers Focusing On Spencer Torkelson As Top Pick?]]> 2020-05-04T03:04:49Z 2020-05-04T02:43:06Z
  • There seems to be an increasing expectation that the Tigers will take Arizona State first baseman Spencer Torkelson with the first overall pick in the amateur draft, according to both Lynn Henning of the Detroit News and Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press.  While nothing will be certain until Torkelson’s name is called, the slugger is considered the top prospect available by many pundits, and is perhaps something of a safer pick.  Perfect Game national director Brian Sakowski tells Fenech that the lack of spring baseball created less opportunity for any prospect to showcase new skills or have a breakout performance, so while Vanderbilt’s Austin Martin may not necessarily be behind Torkelson on Detroit’s draft board, the lack of clarity about Martin’s future defensive position might inspire the Tigers to just go with Torkelson’s more obvious power potential.  Henning is even more straight-forward in his assessment, writing “the Tigers are all but certain to take Torkelson,” as he would immediate become the headline bat in a Detroit farm system that is rich in quality young arms but short on blue chip hitting prospects.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Latest Tigers News & Notes]]> 2020-04-29T15:56:50Z 2020-04-29T15:56:50Z Picking first in the upcoming draft won’t be quite as advantageous as usual, as the Tigers will only have between five and ten rounds to utilize their advantage. But it’s still an exciting opportunity to infuse big-time talent into an organization that has patiently awaited a return to competitiveness. The Tigers are sorting through a long list of possibilities; you can familiarize yourself with many of them by checking out Baseball America’s first top 500 draft prospect list.

    Here’s the latest from the Detroit organization:

    • Tigers analytics chief Jay Sartori held an interesting chat with Cody Stavenhagen of The Athletic (subscription link) about the team’s efforts to construct an analytics department over the past several years. He now oversees a “robust staff,” he says, after an “incremental” building process that started from a mostly blank slate. Sartori came aboard in November of 2015, not long after Al Avila was hired as GM. So what are the Tigers focused on in this realm? Sartori says it’s the question of how to make “complicated concepts and data sets and pieces of information readily accessible to staff and players?”
    • Making analytics work for ballplayers is now a big part of the job for MLB coaches. Tigers hitting coach Joe Vavra acknowledged that, saying that he’s working on “challenging [hitters] to come out of their comfort zone a little bit” when it comes to data and advanced analysis, as Chris McCosky of the Detroit News reported recently. Applying analytics requires “baby steps” at the start, says Vavra, and the organization is trying to get its players to take as many as possible during the present hiatus. Otherwise, the team is handling all its players differently. For some, Vavra is helping to oversee “rather major adjustments to your mechanics and your swing;” for others, it’s mostly a matter of maintaining conditioning.
    • Detroit pitching coach Rick Anderson also just chatted with media, as Stavenhagen covers in a Twitter thread. Anderson says it was disappointing to see Spring Training halted because he wanted to see more of the team’s slate of prized upper-level pitching prospects. Even more worrying, perhaps, is the lack of anticipated minor-league competition. The organization doesn’t seem to have a clear idea yet as to how it’ll make up for the lost developmental opportunity, though obviously that’s an industry-wide issue.
    • Though the focus remains largely on the future, the Tigers did go out and make some notable potential improvements to the MLB infield mix. McCosky examines a unit that now includes anticipated regular veterans in most spots. C.J. Cron, Jonathan Schoop, and Austin Romine are slated to earn a combined $16.3MM — at least, in a full 2020 season. The shortstop position was due to feature Niko Goodrum and Jordy Mercer, with third base handled by Jeimer Candelario and/or other unproven players such as Dawel Lugo and Isaac Paredes. While most of the options on the left side of the infield will remain under team control beyond 2020, the new additions were all on one-year pacts. McCosky looks at the potential line of succession in all areas.