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Detroit Tigers: Andrew Romine Trade Retrospective

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Mar 3, 2016; Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers third baseman Andrew Romine (17) rounds second base during the third inning of a spring training baseball game against the Atlanta Braves at Champion Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 3, 2016; Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers third baseman Andrew Romine (17) rounds second base during the third inning of a spring training baseball game against the Atlanta Braves at Champion Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports /
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It has been two years since the Detroit Tigers acquired Andrew Romine. Here’s a look back a the trade for the utility infielder. 

As the calendar turns to March and Spring Training games become commonplace, the Detroit Tigers are likely done making significant roster moves. The team obviously wants to see what it has. This also applies to the situation in center field, where the “Tigers aren’t looking outside the organization for a backup centerfielder.” Per a tweet from the Detroit Free Press’ Anthony Fenech.

Detroit will have to trim the roster down at some point, and a minor-league signing could still be in the cards (per ESPN’s Katie Strang), but what but what you see is largely what you’re getting with the Tigers.

This strategy should work, as it will allow the team to evaluate roster hopefuls like Bobby Parnell, Michael Fulmer, Casey McGehee and Shane Greene.

While the team could stand pat, Detroit has a history of making Spring Training moves. Signing J.D. Martinez off the scrap heap in 2014 is probably the most memorable. However, that wasn’t the only move the Tigers made in March of 2014.

Detroit also snagged infielder Andrew Romine in a trade with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, sending reliever Jose Alvarez to the Halos in the process.

Hindsight is 20-20, but here’s how the Detroit made out in the deal.

What Romine has done for the Tigers

In his two seasons playing for Brad Ausmus, Romine has appeared in 197 games. The utility player has seen time shortstop, third base, second base, first base and left field. Last season, he often served as a defensive replacement for Nick Castellanos at the end of games in which Detroit had the lead.

Romine has even pitched for the Tigers, and in total has a 1.7 dWAR for his time in Motown.

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At the plate, the 30-year-old owns a .239 batting average and a .583 OPS. In addition, his on-base percentage (.291) and slugging percentage (.292) are nearly identical.

In total, the infielder has hit 11 doubles, four home runs and 27 RBI to go along with 22 stolen bases. His total WAR as a Tiger is 1.8.

Romine is arbitration eligible for the first time in 2017.

What Alvarez has done for the Angels

Alvarez, a left-handed reliever, didn’t pitch much in his first season with Anaheim. The 26-year-old made two appearances, allowing a hit and striking out a batter in two thirds of an innings’ worth of work.

That was 2014, but 2015 brought a much larger workload for the former Tiger. Alvarez posted a 3.49 ERA (3.60 FIP) in 67 innings pitched, striking out 59 hitters compared to just 23 walks. He has a 0.5 WAR with the Halos and isn’t arbitration until 2018.

Could the Tigers have used Alvarez?

The obvious answer is yes given the bullpen the struggles. However, the reliever was coming off a season in which he posted a 5.82 ERA (5.19) FIP in 38.2 innings for the Tigers. Before that however, Alvarez had only one good season at Triple-A separating him from a 2012 season that saw him post a 4.22 ERA and a mere 70 strikeouts in 136.1 innings pitched for the Marlins Double-A affiliate.

Did Detroit Need Romine?

At the time, yes. Looking back, not at the cost of a quality reliever.

Again, hindsight is 20-20. The Tigers pulled the trigger on Romine the day after Jose Iglesias went down with the shin injury that would force him to miss the entire 2014 campaign. The Tigers didn’t really know what they had in Eugenio Suarez or Hernan Perez, necessitating the trade for a more veteran player.

That being said, given Romine’s .227 batting average in 2014, the team probably could have survived with some combination of Suarez, Perez and some minor league free agents.

Who Won the Trade?

It is easy to sit here and say the Tigers should have won the trade, when at the time they needed a shortstop and were faced with unproven options. The team obviously didn’t think Alvarez would develop into an effective reliever, otherwise they probably wouldn’t have dealt him.

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Everything is relative. Romine has provided decent value for a utility player. From a WAR standpoint, Detroit won the deal, with Alvarez’ 0.5 WAR paling in comparison to the infielder’s 1.8 WAR.

Overall, the trade is a push. Both teams made out ok. Alvarez provided the Angels with a solid reliever, while Romine has assumed the Don Kelly super-utility role with the Tigers. Detroit probably would have come out looking better if the team didn’t have such a need for relievers. However, the Tigers did well to snag Romine, who has provided some value on defense and on the base paths.

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