Detroit Tigers – MLB Trade Rumors 2020-10-20T03:21:32Z WordPress Anthony Franco <![CDATA[Tigers Interview Don Kelly For Managerial Postion]]> 2020-10-19T23:30:56Z 2020-10-19T23:19:55Z The Tigers have interviewed Pirates bench coach Don Kelly for their managerial vacancy, reports Rob Biertempfel of the Athletic (Twitter link). However, Biertempfel cautions that Kelly isn’t considered a “top candidate” at the moment due to his relative lack of coaching experience. He’s more likely to return to Pittsburgh in his current position, it seems.

Kelly is a familiar name for Tiger fans. He spent the majority of his nine-year stint as a player in Detroit as a utilityman. Only four years removed from retirement as a player, Kelly has flown through the off-field ranks.  The 40-year-old kicked off his post-playing career in a scouting and player development role in the Tigers organization. He jumped to a big league staff with the 2019 Astros, signing on as first base coach. Pirates first-year manager Derek Shelton then tabbed Kelly as his bench coach this season.

Tigers GM Al Avila has professed a desire for a candidate with coaching or managerial experience. Kelly fits the bill, although he’s a neophyte compared with some of Detroit’s other candidates. Dodgers first base coach George Lombard, Yankees hitting coach Marcus Thames and Royals bench coach Pedro Grifol are also known to have interviewed; all three have vastly more coaching experience. Even if Kelly doesn’t wind up in the managerial chair in Detroit, he’ll certainly find himself in the mix in future searches.

Anthony Franco <![CDATA[Tigers Interview Pedro Grifol For Managerial Vacancy]]> 2020-10-18T18:46:56Z 2020-10-18T18:46:56Z The Tigers interviewed Royals bench coach Pedro Grifol for their managerial opening, reports Jon Morosi of MLB Network. The 50-year-old made a strong impression on Detroit higher-ups and has put himself in “the top tier of candidates,” Morosi adds.

Grifol has come up as a possibility in various managerial searches in recent seasons, including last year, when he was a finalist for the Giants’ job that eventually went to Gabe Kapler. He was also reportedly in consideration to replace Ned Yost as the Royals’ manager. The Royals eventually turned to Mike Matheny but promoted Grifol from catching/quality control coach to bench coach.

Tigers GM Al Avila has known Grifol since the late 1980’s and considered him during Detroit’s previous managerial search that eventually resulted in the hiring of Ron Gardenhire, Morosi notes. Avila is on the record as preferring a candidate with coaching or managerial experience, and Grifol fits that bill. The longtime coach has four seasons of minor-league managerial experience under his belt and has been on the Royals’ big league staff since 2013.

Grifol joins Dodgers first base coach George Lombard and Yankees hitting coach Marcus Thames as candidates known to have interviewed for the Detroit vacancy.

Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Tigers Have Interviewed Marcus Thames For Managerial Job]]> 2020-10-14T21:31:21Z 2020-10-14T21:31:21Z The Tigers interviewed Yankees hitting coach Marcus Thames for their vacant managerial position last week, Jason Beck of tweets (and as Tony Paul of the Detroit News previously reported). Thames joins Dodgers first base coach George Lombard as known candidates to succeed Ron Gardenhire, who retired as the Tigers’ skipper in the second half of September.

Like Lombard, Thames was a member of the Tigers during his playing career. In fact, Thames spent the majority of his career in Detroit, where he suited up from 2004-09. His time as a major leaguer, which he also spent with the Yankees, Rangers and Dodgers, ended in 2011.

Dating back to 2014, Thames has worked for the Yankees in both the minors and the bigs. He joined their major league coaching staff as the hitting coach prior to 2018, and though it’s difficult to quantify the impact he has made, the Yankees’ offense has been rather successful on Thames’ watch. In three years under his tutelage, the club ranks first in the league in runs and wRC+.

Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Tigers Interview George Lombard For Manager’s Job]]> 2020-10-13T18:18:32Z 2020-10-13T18:18:32Z The Tigers’ search to replace Ron Gardenhire has started with a familiar name to Detroit fans, as’s Jason Beck reports (via Twitter) that the team interviewed Dodgers first base coach George Lombard.

The bulk of Lombard’s 144 career Major League games were played in a Detroit uniform, as Lombard appeared in 72 contests for the 2002 Tigers.  Lombard played in parts of six MLB seasons from 1998-2006, and after his career wound up in 2009, he moved on to minor league coaching and coordinator positions in the Red Sox and Braves farm systems.  The 45-year-old Lombard is currently in his fifth season as the Dodgers’ first base coach, and he was also interviewed for the Pirates’ managerial vacancy last year.

Lombard’s resume includes some managerial experience, as he ran the dugout for the Gulf Coast Red Sox (Boston’s rookie league affiliate) in 2011 and 2012.  Tigers GM Al Avila is reportedly only looking at candidates who have some managerial or coaching experience at the Major or minor league levels, so Lombard qualifies on this front, though he does lack the track record of some of the bigger names thought to be under consideration — such as recent World Series-winning skippers Alex Cora or A.J. Hinch, among other candidates.

Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Latest On Tigers’ Catching Plans]]> 2020-10-03T13:15:43Z 2020-10-03T13:15:43Z The Tigers had one of the least productive catcher situations in the majors in 2020, ranking second to last in fWAR (minus-0.9) and third worst in wRC+ (44). None of Austin Romine, a former Yankee whom the Tigers signed for $4.1MM last offseason, Grayson Greiner or Eric Haase proved to be the solution. The Tigers want more production behind the plate as a result, but they could try to find it from within. General manager Al Avila suggested the Tigers want Jake Rogers to step up going forward, per Evan Woodbery of

“With those three guys, you might be able to get through the season,” Avila said. “We’re happy with the defense, but we’d like to have an upgrade on the offensive side. We’re hopeful that Jake is that guy.”

It’s highly questionable whether Rogers, whom the Tigers acquired from the Astros in the teams’ 2017 Justin Verlander trade, is actually capable of filling the void for Detroit. Granted, he’s still just 25, and while he has been a promising prospect since he debuted in the pros in 2016, Rogers recorded terrible production with the Tigers last year. Rogers ended up with an abysmal .125/.222/.259 line and 51 strikeouts in 128 plate appearances, and he saw no MLB action this season.

If the Tigers aren’t totally sold on Rogers, they will have the option of re-signing Romine, but it doesn’t appear that will happen, nor does it look as if they’ll add any other free agents behind the plate, according to Woodbery. That should rule out Alex Avila, the GM’s son and a former Tiger who’s due to become a free agent soon, as well as the other catchers in the upcoming class.

“If you really want an upgrade (at catcher), you have to develop your own,” the elder Avila noted.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[A.J. Hinch, Alex Cora On Tigers’ List Of Managerial Candidates]]> 2020-10-02T16:12:44Z 2020-10-02T15:58:09Z The Tigers are in the market for a new manager after Ron Gardenhire announced his retirement on the heels of a 16-year managerial career. Asked at today’s end-of-year meeting with Tigers beat writers, general manager Al Avila confirmed that former Astros manager A.J. Hinch and former Red Sox skipper Alex Cora are on what the Tigers expect to be a lengthy list of initial candidates (Twitter link via Chris McCosky of the Detroit News).

Both Hinch and Cora lost their jobs in the wake of the investigation in the Astros’ 2017 cheating scandal. Hinch oversaw the team that orchestrated that sign-stealing scheme, while Cora, the club’s bench coach that season, was listed as one of the architects of the entire operation in commissioner Rob Manfred’s report on the investigation.

Manfred suspended Hinch until January 2021, and Astros owner Jim Crane fired him less than an hour after the league announced the findings of its investigation. Cora, meanwhile, had already moved on to become the manager of the Red Sox by the time the Astros scandal had come to light. That didn’t stop the Red Sox from firing him, however, even with Boston’s 2018 World Series win barely in the rear-view mirror.

Of course, that 2018 team was similarly investigated by the league for additional sign-stealing improprieties. The league’s investigation into the Sox deemed their transgressions to be less severe, pinning advance scout/replay coordinator J.T. Watkins as the primary offender. Cora was suspended by Manfred through the 2020 postseason, although the commissioner made clear that that was for his role in the Astros’ scandal — not due to anything that transpired with the Red Sox. Said Manfred in announcing his findings from the Red Sox investigation: “Communication of these violations was episodic and isolated to Watkins and a limited number of Red Sox players only.”

It was and still is rather baffling that Cora, who was at or near the center of both scandals, was banned from the game for a lesser period of time than either Hinch or former Astros GM Jeff Luhnow (who was also suspended by Manfred through January and fired by Crane). His role in the Houston scheme was clearly more hands on, but even if he wasn’t involved in the Red Sox’ violations, he’d seemingly be guilty of negligence.

What’s done is done regarding the suspension, and the shorter punishment would ostensibly allow Cora to be formally hired at any point after the World Series. It’s less clear how things would work with Hinch, who isn’t formally eligible for reinstatement until Jan. 13, 2021. Perhaps the Tigers could interview him but not officially hire him until his date of eligibility. It seems doubtful that they’d put their entire search on hold until he’s eligible to be reinstated, as doing so could cost them the opportunity to talk to other candidates of interest. Getting the manager on boarded early in the offseason is always preferable, though, and it doesn’t seem possible to do that with Hinch

It’s easy to focus on Hinch and Cora, of course, given their recent ties to high-profile cheating scandals that shook the sport to its core. But they’ll be just two of many candidates to whom the Tigers speak, and there’s nothing to indicate that either is somehow a preferred option.

Shedding a bit of light into the Tigers’ process for identifying candidates, Avila indicated that he’d consider both veteran managers and rookie skippers — but only those who have coached elsewhere in the Majors or managed in the minors (Twitter link via Jason Beck of Former players who lack coaching/managerial experience will not be considered.

The Tigers went that route in 2015 when they hired Brad Ausmus, just as the Cardinals had done a couple years prior with Mike Matheny. Since that time, Craig Counsell (Brewers), Aaron Boone (Yankees), David Ross (Cubs) and Carlos Beltran (Mets) have each hired former players who lack coaching experience. (Beltran, of course, was dismissed before managing a game as yet another ripple effect from the Astros’ 2017 scandal). Early interviews will be conducted primarily via Zoom, but the Tigers will eventually interview their finalists in person.

Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Tigers Place Willi Castro On Injured List]]> 2020-09-27T14:52:48Z 2020-09-27T14:52:59Z 9:52AM: Castro has been officially placed on the IL, the Tigers announced, and infielder Sergio Alcantara has been added to the active roster.

8:26AM: Tigers shortstop Willi Castro left Saturday’s game in the second inning due to right shoulder soreness, and manager Lloyd McClendon told The Athletic’s Cody Stavenhagen and other reporters that Castro will be placed on the 10-day injured list.  The placement will allow the Tigers to add a healthy player to the roster for today’s final game of the regular season schedule (barring more potential action on Monday, depending on what happens with the Cardinals’ playoff situation).

Castro seemed to tweak his shoulder during a swing, though he finished his plate appearance and even delivered an RBI single for what ended up being the winning run in a 4-3 Tigers victory over the Royals.  Castro was replaced by a pinch-runner after his hit, bringing a premature end to an outstanding rookie season.  After posting only a .624 OPS over 110 PA in 2019, Castro exploded to hit .349/.381/.550 with six homers over 140 plate appearances this season.

A .448 BABIP is undoubtedly a big contributor to Castro’s production, and his Statcast numbers reveal some mediocre hard-hit ball and exit velocity totals.  That said, Castro’s 9.6% barrel rate is above-average (64th percentile) and his .365 xwOBA is respectably close to his .387 wOBA.  There’s plenty here for the Tigers to like about the 23-year-old, who came to the Motor City in the trade deadline swap with the Indians in 2018 that saw Leonys Martin head to Cleveland.

Castro seems to have earned himself a place in Detroit’s infield mix going forward, though it remains to be seen if he’ll stick at shortstop given a lackluster (-3.3 UZR/150, -7 Defensive Runs Saved) defensive showing over 212 1/3 innings at the position this season.  Niko Goodrum delivered much better glovework when playing shortstop, so the Tigers could opt to try Castro out at second or third base in 2021.  Conversely, Castro could get a longer look at shortstop to see if his defense can improve with more seasoning, and the Tigers could move Goodrum back into his old superutility role.

Anthony Franco <![CDATA[Miguel Cabrera Discusses Future]]> 2020-09-26T20:44:12Z 2020-09-26T20:35:00Z Miguel Cabrera’s contract extension with the Tigers runs through 2023, and the legendary hitter made clear he’s hoping to play out the deal. “I’ve got three years on my contract,” the 37-year-old told reporters (including Evan Woodbery of MLive) when asked how much longer he planned to play. “I don’t know what’s going to happen after my contract’s over. I’m focused on my contract and three more years and we’ll see what happens.” That’s not too surprising, given that Cabrera’s still due another $102MM after this season (including an $8MM buyout of his 2024 vesting option). The future Hall of Famer discussed the injuries that have weighed him down in recent years, as well as his hope of returning to first base after serving exclusively as a designated hitter this season. His full interview is a worthwhile read for Detroit fans.

Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Jeimer Candelario Done For Season]]> 2020-09-26T00:18:46Z 2020-09-26T00:18:46Z
  • Tigers third baseman Jeimer Candelario is done for the year, as the club announced that it has placed him on the 10-day IL with a low back strain. Candelario, whom the Tigers acquired from the Cubs in 2017, made notable strides in 2020. The switch-hitting 26-year-old significantly upped his hard-contact rate en route to a .297/.369/.503 mark and seven homers in 206 PA. He leads all Tigers in fWAR with 1.6.
  • ]]>
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Tigers Select Brandon Dixon’s Contract]]> 2020-09-22T19:12:29Z 2020-09-22T18:51:39Z The Tigers have selected the contract of utiltyman Brandon Dixon from their alternate training site, the team announced.  There was already an open spot on Detroit’s active roster since infielder Sergio Alcantara was previously optioned to the alternate site, and a 40-man roster spot was opened for Dixon since second baseman Jonathan Schoop has been moved from the 10-day injured list to the 45-day injured list, which will officially end Schoop’s 2020 season.

    This will be Dixon’s first bit of Major League action during the 2020 season, following 544 career plate appearances with the Reds and Tigers in 2018-19.  Detroit claimed Dixon off waivers from Cincinnati following the 2018 season and Dixon went on to receive pretty regular playing time last year, hitting .248/.290/.435 over 420 PA and actually leading all Tigers batters with 15 homers.

    Dixon has mostly played first base in the big leagues but he has also seen quite a bit of action around the diamond, starting multiple games as a corner outfield, second baseman, and third baseman.  (He also has one game played in center field and even four pitching appearances in late-game mop-up duty during blowouts.)  This versatility should help Dixon continue to get looks at the big league level, and he is a useful player for the Tigers to have on hand for depth purposes.

    A sprained right wrist sent Schoop to the IL (retroactively) on September 13, but the infielder will now wrap up what could his only season in Detroit.  Schoop signed a one-year, $6.1MM deal with the Tigers last winter and enjoyed a productive season, hitting .278/.324/.475 and eight homers over 177 PA, good for a 114 wRC+ and 115 OPS+.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Latest On Tigers' Managerial Job]]> 2020-09-22T02:29:28Z 2020-09-22T02:29:28Z The Tigers suddenly have a managerial opening now that Ron Gardenhire decided to retire Saturday after almost three full seasons on the job. Gardenhire oversaw teams that were in full rebuilding mode, evidenced in part by the 132-241 record the Tigers compiled under him, but they’re seemingly moving back toward respectability now and may want to push for contention sometime soon. As such, the Tigers are looking for an experienced skipper to replace Gardenhire, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic hears (subscription link). Former Astros manager A.J. Hinch and ex-Braves/Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez could be among the candidates. Hinch has been out of baseball since the league suspended him last January as a result of the Astros’ sign-stealing violations, though he’ll be eligible to return in 2021. Gonzalez was a candidate for the Tigers’ managerial job before it went to Gardenhire in 2017.

    TC Zencka <![CDATA[Tigers Putting Together List Of Managerial Candidates]]> 2020-09-21T13:28:46Z 2020-09-21T00:04:00Z After Ron Gardenhire’s sudden retirement this weekend, the Tigers have a managerial opening that could be one of the more appealing around baseball. Lloyd McClendon has taken over managerial duties for the rest of this season, and he’ll get a look for the full-time job over the winter. A.J. Hinch, Will Venable, George Lombard, Vance Wilson, Don Kelly, Pedro Grifol, and Mike Redmond are also expected to enter the conversation, per MLB Insider Jon Morosi (via Twitter). Of course, it’s still too early to call this a comprehensive list.

    Anthony Franco <![CDATA[Tigers Manager Ron Gardenhire Retires]]> 2020-09-19T21:48:11Z 2020-09-19T21:08:29Z Ron Gardenhire is retiring as Tigers’ manager, effective immediately, GM Al Avila announced today (via Chris McCosky of the Detroit News). Bench coach Lloyd McClendon will take over the manager’s chair for the remainder of the season, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Gardenhire intended to step away from the sport at the end of the 2020 season, he informed reporters (via Evan Woodbery of MLive), but a recent bout with food poisoning contributed to his decision to make the move a week and a half early.

    This is a bittersweet day for myself and my family,” Gardenhire said in a press release. “I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the countless players and coaches that I’ve had the honor of working alongside for the last 16 seasons as manager. I’d also like to thank the Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins for giving me the privilege of leading their clubhouses. While I’m stepping away from managing, I’ll be watching this group of Tigers closely in the next few years. There’s a lot of talent on this team, and a lot coming through the farm system. Tigers fans are going to enjoy the exciting times on the horizon.

    The 62-year-old leaves the sport as one of its most successful managers in recent memory. As he alluded to in his statement, he first broke into managing in Minnesota back in 2002. Those Twins teams immediately rattled off a trio of 90-plus win seasons, winning the AL Central each of those years. Gardenhire’s clubs posted above-average records in eight of his first nine seasons at the helm.

    Along the way, Minnesota broke in a handful of the game’s brightest stars. Franchise icon Joe Mauer made his MLB debut in 2004 and was named AL MVP five years later. Johan Santana, meanwhile, blossomed into a perennial Cy Young contender during the mid-2000’s, claiming the award twice.

    Bright as things were in the early portion of Gardenhire’s Minnesota tenure, they went off the rails rather quickly. The Twins never won more than 70 games in any season from 2011-14. The club fired Gardenhire after the 2014 season, ending his tenure as the second-winningest manager in franchise history.

    Somewhat surprisingly, Gardenhire remerged after a three-year hiatus, getting the Tigers’ managerial job in advance of the 2018 season. Detroit has floundered through a trio of miserable seasons since, although that was always expected with the Tigers amidst a massive rebuild. Much more pressing than wins and losses, Gardenhire was tasked with shepherding Detroit’s young players to the big league level. This season, in particular, has seen the Tigers break a few top young players, including Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal, into the big leagues.

    It’s always difficult to tell from the outside precisely how impactful a coach or manager was behind the scenes. Nevertheless, the well-respected Gardenhire drew plaudits in that regard from Avila. “I’d like to congratulate Gardy for having one of the best managerial careers in baseball history,” the GM said. “His leadership and hard work over three seasons with our ballclub has helped move us towards our goal of bringing winning baseball back to Detroit. His positive impact on our young players will be felt for years to come.”

    All told, Gardenhire’s clubs compiled a 1200-1280 record. That .484 winning percentage, of course, somewhat reflects the difficult hand he was dealt over the past few seasons in Detroit. His 1200 managerial wins rank 46th in MLB history. MLBTR congratulates Gardenhire on a fantastic career and wishes him well in retirement.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Tigers Place Jonathan Schoop On 10-Day IL, Activate Niko Goodrum]]> 2020-09-15T20:09:32Z 2020-09-15T19:48:47Z The Tigers have placed second baseman Jonathan Schoop on the 10-day injured list due to a right wrist sprain, the team announced.  Schoop’s placement is retroactive to September 13.  Niko Goodrum will take Schoop’s spot on the MLB roster, as Goodrum has been activated from his own IL stint due to a right oblique strain.

    Schoop sprained his wrist swinging, manager Ron Gardenhire told’s Jason Beck (Twitter links) and other reporters.  This comes after Schoop was hit by a pitch on that same wrist on September 8, and Schoop has also been dealing with some hamstring issues.  The backdated IL placement means that Schoop could technically still return before the season is over, though with the Tigers fading from playoff contention, it’s possible the infielder could be shut down.

    If this is the case, it could mark the end of Schoop’s time in Detroit.  Schoop signed a one-year, $6.1MM deal with the Tigers in the offseason, and hit a solid .278/.324/.475 with eight homers over 177 plate appearances.  While the Statcast metrics weren’t fans of Schoop’s work this year, the veteran positioned himself for another Major League contract as a free agent this winter, and a return to the Tigers might not be out of the question.

    Schoop’s chances of suiting up as a Tiger in 2021 could depend on the team’s plans for Goodrum and Willi Castro, as Gardenhire said Goodrum will take over for Schoop at second base so Castro can get some time at shortstop.  The versatile Goodrum can play all over the diamond, so Detroit could explore moving him back into a super-utility role next year if they wanted to go with Castro as an everyday shortstop and perhaps bring Schoop back as the regular second baseman.

    On the flip side, Castro hasn’t shown much defensively at shortstop, whereas Goodrum has displayed some strong glovework (+8.7 UZR/150 and +2 Defensive Runs Saved) over 248 innings at the position this season.  Goodrum’s main focus over the season’s final days will likely be getting his bat on track, as Goodrum has hit only .186/.264/.381 in 129 PA in 2020.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Tigers Call Up Eric Haase, Option Grayson Greiner]]> 2020-09-15T18:39:01Z 2020-09-15T18:39:01Z The Tigers have made a change to their catching ranks, optioning Grayson Greiner to their alternate training site and calling up Eric Haase.  Acquired from the Indians back in January, Haase is line to see his first action of the 2020 season.

    Greiner has hit .118/.182/.333 over 55 plate appearances this season, continuing the offensive struggles that also plagued him over his first two MLB seasons (.577 OPS in 340 PA in 2018-19).  With starter Austin Romine also scuffling, the Tigers opted to bring Haase into the picture as the backup, though Haase also isn’t known for his work at the plate.

    Haase has only 34 career MLB plate appearances to his name, and a .094/.147/.188 slash line to show for his brief time in the Show.  In the minors, however, Haase has shown more pop, batting .243/.316/.477 with 130 home runs over 2833 career PA in Cleveland’s farm system.

    The other notable aspect of the transaction is that Haase is getting the call rather than Jake Rogers, who has long been tabbed as Detroit’s catcher of the future.  Rogers hasn’t seen any time at the Major League level this season after making his debut in 2019 and hitting only .125/.222/.259 over 128 PA.  Tigers GM Al Avila recently implied that Rogers was unlikely to be called up again this season, so while Haase’s promotion isn’t necessarily a surprise, it does continue to raise questions about whether or not the Tigers still view Rogers as a long-term answer.