Detroit Tigers Sign Rafael Lopez and John Mayberry Jr. to Minors Deals
With Spring Training just around the corner, the Detroit Tigers continue to add depth.
The team signed two players with big league experience in catcher Rafael Lopez and utility player John Mayberry Jr. Detroit’s official website confirmed the news in a press release announcing that 18 players have been invited to Major League camp for Spring Training.
Lopez was selected in the 16th round of the 2011 draft by the Chicago Cubs. By 2014, he cracked the Cubs’ roster, appearing in seven games for the North Side team. In those seven games, the catcher collected two hits, two walks and an RBI in 14 plate appearances. During his brief stint with the Cubs, three players attempted to steal on Lopez. The 28-year-old threw out one of the three base stealers.
Last year, the catcher split the season playing for the Triple-A affiliates of the Cubs and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Lopez hit .266 with 10 doubles, one triple, one home run, 24 RBI and 25 walks. He only struck out 50 times.
The former Cub will likely serve as a depth piece for the Tigers.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Bryan Holaday will compete for the right to be James McCann’s backup this spring. The team may be unable to retain the loser of the Spring Training battle, making Lopez all the more valuable in terms of having another catcher with experience in the organization.
With Saltalamacchia and Holaday blocking Lopez’ path, Mayberry Jr. has a much better chance of claiming a roster spot. The 32-year-old is a veteran of seven big league seasons, including 59 games for the National League Champion New York Mets in 2015.
Mayberry Jr. had his best years as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies. From 2011 to 2013, the outfielder hit .246 and averaged 21 doubles, 13 home runs, 45 RBI and five stolen bases per season.
The former first-round pick’s most successful campaign came in 2011 with Philadelphia when he posted a 1.7 WAR while mashing 15 home runs and driving in 49 runs to go along with a .273 batting average in only 104 games.
In addition to being a threat with the bat, Mayberry Jr. is also an extremely versatile defensive option to have on the bench. To go along with being able to play all three outfield spots, the former Met has also spent considerable time at first base.
While Lopez has an uphill climb to make the roster, Mayberry Jr.’s versatility and pop could help him snag a roster spot. He’ll presumably see most of his at-bats in left field, where the primary competition is Anthony Gose, Tyler Collins, Mike Aviles and Nate Schierholtz.
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According to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, Mayberry Jr. will make $1 million if he makes the Detroit Tigers’ roster. MLB.com’s Jason Beck passes along that, in addition to the potential Major League salary, there are also incentives in Mayberry Jr.’s contract for games played with the Tigers.