The Tigers announced Wednesday morning that they’ve acquired minor league infielder/outfielder Jamie Westbrook from the Brewers in exchange for cash. Westbrook, who is not on the 40-man roster, will report to Triple-A Toledo.
It’s a straightforward minor league trade for a Tigers club that has lost some outfield depth early in the season with injuries to top prospect Riley Greene (broken foot) and Derek Hill (strained hamstring). Detroit is also facing a potential absence for Robbie Grossman, who exited last night’s game with a groin injury. Grossman tells reporters this morning that an MRI did not reveal a strain (Twitter link via Evan Woodbery of MLive.com), and while that’s certainly good news, it’s still possible that the ensuing tightness/discomfort will lead to a brief IL stint. Daz Cameron was added to the taxi squad, Woodbery notes, and could be called up if Grossman does require a 10-day absence to heal up.
Westbrook, 26, isn’t strictly an outfielder and has actually spent more time at second base than in the outfield, but he’s still no stranger to playing on the grass. He missed time last season to suit up for Team USA in the Olympics, but Westbrook split the rest of the season between Milwaukee’s Double-A and Triple-A affiliates, where he slashed a combined .281/.353/.456 with a dozen homers, 16 doubles, a pair of triples and three steals in 365 plate appearances.
It was a solid all-around year for Westbrook, who has consistently been an above-average hitter in the upper minors. Despite a generally solid performance throughout his minor league career, Westbrook has yet to get a call to the Majors either in Arizona or in Milwaukee. Listed at 5’9″, he’s been labeled as an “undersized” player and been questioned by scouts due to his diminutive nature. The fact that he’s been limited to left field and second base on the defensive spectrum hasn’t helped his prospect stock much.
That said, Westbrook is out to another good start in Triple-A — 5-for-10 with a double, a walk and no strikeouts — and he’ll bring a righty bat with a track record of performing in the upper minors to his new organization. In 446 Triple-A plate appearances, Westbrook is a .308/.380/.510 hitter. He’s also slashed .270/.324/.411 in a more pitcher-friendly Double-A setting (1786 plate appearances) and .319/.357/.510 in Class-A Advanced (527 plate appearances).
It’s primarily a depth acquisition for the Tigers, but if Westbrook continues to perform at an above-average offensive level, it’s possible he’ll finally break through to the big league level in his ninth professional season.