Detroit Tigers general manager Al Avila brought in significant minor league depth across the board in the offseason. One area where a prominent portion of that depth came was at first base.
The slugger and future Hall of Famer has largely avoided missing significant time due injury. He’s failed to play at least 148 games in a season only once since 2004.
What’s more, per Spotrac, he’s under contract through 2023 with options that could keep him in the Motor City through 2025.
In other words, Miguel Cabrera is going to start at first base for the Tigers.
However, some depth was needed at the position.
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Martinez likely won’t see extended time at the position as a fill-in for Cabrera, while Romine brings more value as a utility player who can contribute at multiple positions.
The Tigers farm system likely wasn’t going to provide the team with a depth option, at least not right away.
Because Cabrera has been entrenched at first base since 2008, the Tigers haven’t had a need to develop other first baseman.
However, Allen just completed his first season at Single-A. Ficociello, on the other hand, is more of a utility player prospect.
The 24-year-old has also seen time at second base and third base, as well as in left field. He finished 2016 with Double-A Erie.
Similar to Ficociello, Maddox is a versatile defender.
The Tennessee product saw significant action at second base last season and could eventually replace Ian Kinsler at the keystone in Detroit.
In other words, the Tigers needed more options at first base.
Additionally, both come with Major League experience.
Pill previously appeared in 11 games for the San Francisco Giants from 2011 to 2013.
Navarro saw action in 130 games in parts of four seasons with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
He last appeared in the Majors during the 2015 campaign.
Neither player profiles similarly to Cabrera from offensive standpoint—no one does, really—however both bring value on defense.
Pill owns a DRS of five, a UZR of 4.0 and a UZR/150 of 14.1 in his career as a first baseman, while Navarro posted a DRS of four, a 2.7 UZR and a 14.0 UZR/150 in the Majors.
The veteran duo may not make appear in as many games as a starting player for the Detroit Tigers in 2017, however, their presence in the organization gives the franchise some much-needed depth.