Detroit Tigers Spring Training Roundtable: Best Under-the-Radar Acquisition
The Detroit Tigers made a number of big-name acquisitions this offseason, but which player was the best under-the-radar acquisition? Motor City Bengals has you covered.
The Detroit Tigers have convened in Lakeland for Spring Training and all seems right in the world.
There is considerable excitement surrounding the team as a number of new players have been brought aboard to improve upon last season’s 74-87 season and claim the elusive World Series trophy.
Detroit enters Spring Training with a star-studded roster. Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander return fully healthy, while J.D. Martinez, Ian Kinsler and Victor Martinez are still under contract. New additions Justin Upton, Jordan Zimmermann and Francisco Rodriguez also bring a considerable amount of name recognition thanks to respectively outstanding track records.
While players like Upton and Zimmermann may take the cake in terms of the team’s best offseason move, they weren’t the only new players to join Detroit this past offseason. Here’s our staff’s assessment of which player was the best under-the-radar acquisition for the Tigers.
Mike Aviles. The Tigers have not had the most impressive utility players in the past few years. Donny Kelly and Andrew Romine do not put much fear in pitchers or baserunners. Mike Aviles brings a little more power at the plate and bit more swagger on defense. He also brings his experience with the Royals, Red Sox, and Indians that he can share with the team. Utility players do not usually get much press, but Aviles has the skills that can draw attention and score runs. His batting numbers have dropped off in the past few years, but he has been known to hit for power. Now that his daughter is healthy again, he can give more focus and energy to the game. Aviles once hit a ball so hard that it put a hole in the Green Monster in Fenway. That Mike Aviles could show up in Detroit.
Justin Wilson. It’s been a long time since the Tigers employed a relief pitcher of Justin Wilson’s caliber. The 28-year-old pitcher comes with an excellent track record. In 199.1 innings pitched for the Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Yankees, Wilson owns a 3.03 ERA and a 3.22 FIP. He’s struck out 193 batters compared to just 81 walks. What’s more, the left-handed pitcher can get both types of batters out. Right-handed hitters have managed a mere .209 batting average and a .605 OPS, while lefties are hitting .235 with a .618 OPS.
The former Yankee reliever can also crank up the velocity. According to FanGraphs, his average fastball velocity is 95.1 MPH. Additionally, at one point or another, his cutter, slider and sinker have all touched 90 MPH or greater.
Wilson is also on an excellent contract. He won’t be eligible for arbitration until 2017, and cannot hit free agency until 2019.
Mark Lowe. As the closer, Francisco Rodriguez is going to face all the early pressure from Tigers fans who have been craving a guy that can shut things down in the ninth inning. Lowe, the likely set up man while the Tigers try to figure out what exactly they have in Alex Wilson, can provide stability in the equally important eighth inning. His 1.96 ERA over 55 innings last year should have fans salivating. His importance to this season’s success cannot be understated. If Wilson, Lowe and Rodriguez can all repeat or improve upon their 2015 performances, the Tigers will have a deadly late game combination that can win those close games they’ve been prone to dropping.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia: Saltalamacchia is the biggest under the radar acquisition for the Tigers. Instead of surrendering a spot in the batting order each time Bryan Holaday would catch a game, the Tigers have added a veteran presence that can hit and handle the pitching staff. If McCann gets hurt in 2016, the Tigers have quality depth with Saltalamacchia instead of patch work with Holaday.
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Jarrod Saltalamacchia. I love what Jarrod Saltalamacchia bring to the Tigers. It is hard to find solid, switch-hitting catchers and Saltalamacchia is one of them. It is true that he isn’t overwhelmingly good but between him and James McCann the Tigers’ backstop is set. Salty is a solid catcher and under the tutelage of Brad Ausmus and Wally Joyner, he will return to his better batting self. He also has the help of the best hitter in the Major Leagues, Miguel Cabrera, to potentially help him out. He also is moving back to the American League, where he was much better. His years with the Boston Red Sox were much better than his years in the National League with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Miami Marlins. The overall team in Detroit is better than Arizona and Miami so there will be less pressure on him to perform and the Tigers are a great organization for a re-birth. Look at J.D. Martinez, he wasn’t half the player he is now until he joined the Tigers. This change of scenery will be great for Salty.
Mike Aviles. The Tigers haven’t had a deep bench in recent years. Although Aviles isn’t an All-Star caliber shortstop, he’s a good backup since it’s clear that Jose Iglesias needs breaks throughout the regular season as he’s liable to get banged up down the stretch. By adding Aviles the Tigers now have a viable backup for second base, shortstop, and third base— which are all positions that need to be two deep.
Next: Breakout Candidates Roundtable
Is it utility ace Mike Aviles? Perhaps Salty? Or a reliever? Tell us what you think and join the conversation on Facebook and/or Twitter.
Also, check back in with Motor City Bengals each day this week for more roundtables on everything Spring Training for the Detroit Tigers.