Detroit Tigers: Trio of free agents could make for intriguing depth pieces

DETROIT, MI - APRIL 7: A general view of Comerica Park prior to the start of the opening day game between the Boston Red Sox and the Detroit Tigers on April 7, 2017 at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - APRIL 7: A general view of Comerica Park prior to the start of the opening day game between the Boston Red Sox and the Detroit Tigers on April 7, 2017 at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /

Detroit Tigers executive vice president of baseball operations and general manager Al Avila could do with more depth signings. Here are three fits in Rhiner Cruz, Josh Rutledge and Christian Colon.

Detroit Tigers fans could see some veteran players depart his offseason.

After starting pitcher Justin Verlander, catcher Alex Avila, outfielder J.D. Martinez and Justin Upton, as well as closer Justin Wilson, were traded during the season, Detroit’s front office could continue to be active.

It obviously remains to be seen just what the team will do this winter, but with a rebuild in full-effect, veterans like second baseman Ian Kinsler, shortstop Jose Iglesias, relief pitcher Alex Wilson and closer Shane Greene could be conceivable trade chips.

If the team moves a number of players this winter, more players would be needed to serve as depth pieces.

Said players could begin in Toledo, but could also work their way into the Major League picture.

There’s plenty of potential up and down the free agent market.

Related Story: Tigers reportedly sign pitcher to MiLB deal

Ideally some of these players could conceivably become a contributor or even an eventual trade chip for the Tigers.

Once again, this is all speculative, but here are a pair of hypothetical depth adds for the Detroit Tigers.

Rhiner Cruz

Cruz last appeared in the Majors in 2013, throwing 21.1 innings out of the Houston Astros bullpen. That season the pitcher struck out just 4.2 batters per nine innings.

Following stints in Japan and Mexico, the reliever return to Major League Baseball has he pitched for Atlanta’s Triple-A squad.

The results were much more encouraging in terms of missing bats, as the former Detroit Tigers farmhand (he pitched in rookie ball for Detroit in 2004 and 2005) punched out 11.1 batters per nine innings.

He also added a 1.322 WHIP, a 2.84 ERA, a 3.22 FIP and a 3.61 xFIP on a .308 BABIP in 50.2 frames.

As a hypothetical Spring Training invitee, Cruz could provide plenty of value.

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Josh Rutledge

A 28-year-old infielder with 1,206 plate appearances worth of experience in the Major Leagues, Rutledge has split the last six seasons between the Colorado Rockies and Boston Red Sox.

He saw his most extensive action in 2014 with Colorado, turning in a .728 OPS, 44 runs scored, 33 RBI and 27 extra-base hits in 342 plate appearances.

Last season saw him limited to just 118 plate appearances spread across 37 games with Boston, but Rutledge holds plenty of appeal as a potential middle-infield depth option with pop.

In his career, the veteran has accumulated a .126 ISO.

What’s more, he also has spent significant time in the field at shortstop, second base and third base.

If Ian Kinsler and Jose Iglesias are traded this winter, Rutledge would be a perfect buy low, stop-gap option to bridge the gap to Dawel Lugo.

Christian Colon

Another potential utility option, Colon was the fourth-overall pick by the Kansas City Royals.

He’s yet to live up to his high draft position in the Majors, but is only 28 and turned in a promising stint with Miami’s Triple-A affiliate in 2017.

Over the course of 177 plate appearances Colon batted .302 with a .379 on-base percentage and a .376 slugging percentage. The infielder also registered a 99 wRC+ and a 9.0% walk rate.

While those numbers were partly fueled by a .358 BABIP, the former Royal also showed his ability to make contact and avoid strikeouts, with a 14.7 strikeout rate.

A dependable defender across the infield, Colon owns solid defensive metrics at all three non-first base positions.

Christin Colon lifetime defensive metrics in the Majors

Second Base: 478 innings, +8 DRS, 15.6 UZR/150.

Shortstop: 238.1 innings, +3 DRS, 4.6 UZR/150.

Third Base: 154.1 innings, +3 DRS, 3.5 UZR/150.

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Like Rutledge, he could hypothetically provide value as the Detroit Tigers front office waits for the next wave of prospects.