With the arrival of Casey McGehee, the Detroit Tigers brought in another veteran to Major League Spring Training. Here’s how the infielder could fit with the team.
The Detroit Tigers added depth on Tuesday morning with the signing of Casey McGehee. The move, which was later confirmed by the team’s official public relations Twitter account, gives the Tigers more options where the bench is concerned.
Manager Brad Ausmus was quoted in an article published by MLive.com talking about the depth McGehee brings, saying, “We could use a third baseman, quite frankly… Not necessarily at the major league level. Maybe in Toledo. We could use it. And he’s got major league experience.”
In other words, Nick Castellanos job is safe, but McGehee could still make an impact off the bench should he earn a place on the 25-man roster.
The 33-year-old went through a turbulent season in 2015, hitting .198 with only 12 doubles, two home runs and 20 RBI over the course of 109 games split between the Giants and Marlins. His OPS was only .538.
However, McGehee thrived in 160 games with the Miami in 2014, hitting .287 with 76 RBI and 34 extra-base-hits in 160 games. If he can bring that kind of hitting acumen to Detroit, he’ll have an excellent chance at making the team.
Capable of playing first base and third base, the former San Francisco player is also a capable pinch hitter given his wealth of experience in the National League.
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McGehee is a career .260 hitter, but there’s more than meets the eye in terms of his stats coming off the bench.
From pinch hitters, teams generally expect some kind of clutch hitting at some point—and nothing gets more clutch than producing with two outs. Luckily, McGehee has a long history of doing that. The infielder is a .279 hitter with two outs. What’s more, the newest Tiger also has a .302 batting average and an .880 OPS with two outs and runners in scoring position.
McGehee also excels in extra innings, as evidenced by a lifetime .386 batting average.
Given his defensive flexibility and hitting ability off the bench, the veteran would make an excellent addition to the Tigers for the regular season.
In terms of a role, the right-handed hitter could serve pair with Jarrod Saltalamacchia to form a formidable pinch-hitting tandem. In the field, McGehee can spell Castellanos at third base while also giving Miguel Cabrera time off at first base. This would allow Ausmus to rotate Cabrera to designated hitter on occasion, thereby keeping the slugger and Victor Martinez fresh over an entire season.
The main caveat here is that McGehee needs to hit in order to make the team. He’ll likely be ticketed for Toledo or free agency if posts a batting average similar to his 2015 number. However, if the infielder does produce at the plate, he’ll force the Detroit Tigers to make some difficult decisions when picking the final 25-man roster at the end of Spring Training.