Detroit Tigers Most Expendable Players
The Detroit Tigers have improved leaps and bounds this offseason.
Jordan Zimmermann and Mike Pelfrey have upped the quality in the rotation, while the situations in the bullpen and in centerfield have improved drastically. In terms of remaining needs, the team has yet to address the situation in left field, and depth is always a positive. Put it this way, additions could be on the horizon.
Regardless of the impact of the addition, other teams suddenly make a number players available in spring training as rosters are tinkered with. This is how the Tigers picked up J.D. Martinez. While the team is unlikely to find an impact player of Martinez’ caliber, useful players could hit the waiver wire or be found on what’s left of the free agent market.
If a useful player is made available to Detroit, who would be cut/traded to make room? Here’s a look at the players who could be let go.
Holaday was one of the few bench players assured a spot on Detroit’s Opening Day Roster—then the team signed Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
In four seasons with the Tigers, Holaday has a .251 batting average, three home runs and 30 RBI in 108 games. In addition, the backstop isn’t great with drawing walks thanks to a .283 on-base percentage. He’d probably be headed back to Triple-A if he weren’t out of minor league options.
There’s also the fact that, plain and simple, Saltalamacchia is an upgrade. The former Red Sox catcher’s ability to hit for power and drive in runs gives Detroit a valuable backup to James McCann. Saltalamacchia’s prowess with the bat also improves a bench unit that was in dire need of offense.
Holaday has a career 0.1 WAR in, admittedly, less playing time. However, Salty has averaged a 1.1 WAR per season in his career. Advantage Saltalamacchia.
Andrew Romine brings speed and defensive versatility to the table for Detroit. The utility player also fills in for Nick Castellanos late in games as a defensive replacement, but doesn’t provide a massive impact otherwise.
It’s purely speculative, but he could be the odd man out if the Tigers are forced to choose between reserve infielders.
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Romine can fill in at second base, shortstop and third base. But, new signing Mike Aviles can play all those positions in addition to both corner outfield spots. What’s more, Aviles is also a significant offensive upgrade. The former Royal had 15 extra-base hits last season (he averages 25 per season), Romine has 18 total in his career.
There is one position that Romine plays that Aviles doesn’t. The position in question? First base. Romine isn’t going to get many (if any) starts there so long as Miguel Cabrera is healthy.
In addition to Aviles, there’s also top prospect Dixon Machado. The shortstop impressed at the dish in a cameo with the Tigers in late 2015 and is an excellent defender. MLB.com says he has “plus hands and arm to go along with outstanding range.” These traits would probably allow him to slide over to second base without much issue.
Machado’s potential and defensive abilities make him a much safer bet to stick around than Romine.
Signed as a minor-league free agent, Jefry Marte showed flashes of promise last season. For a stretch, he looked like he might follow Blaine Hardy and Al Alburquerque in terms of being minor-league signings that made an impact.
The corner infielder did hit four home runs and drive in 11 runs in 33 games, but his batting average (.213) and on-base percentage (.284) weren’t stellar.
At just 24-years-old, Marte has potential, but he’s buried on the organizational depth chart at the only two positions he plays. Castellanos, Aviles and Romine block Marte at third base while Cabrera and Romine stand in the rookie’s way at first.
Does Marte have the pop to warrant at-bats at designated hitter? Maybe, but not on a contending team with Victor Martinez.
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Obviously the Detroit Tigers don’t want to lose any of these guys, but if an upgrade or potentially useful players hits the waiver wire, tough decisions will have to be made.