Detroit Tigers sign Alexi Amarista to minor league deal

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 25: Alexi Amarista
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 25: Alexi Amarista /

The Detroit Tigers have added to their stable of utility infielders, signing veteran Alexi Amarista to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training.

The Detroit Tigers have continued to stock up on middle infielders this offseason. After losing Andrew Romine to waivers and trading Ian Kinsler, the Tigers have now signed four middle infielders to minor league deals.

The newest addition is seven-year veteran Alexi Amarista, whom the Tigers signed to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training.

Amarista debuted with the Angels in 2011. He was traded to the Padres in May of 2012 for reliever Ernesto Frieri.

Amarista then spent the next five seasons in San Diego. He was their primary center fielder in 2013 and their starting shortstop in both 2014 and 2015. Across those five seasons, Amarista slashed .233/.279/.323 with 18 home runs and 38 stolen bases.

He signed with the Rockies in 2017 and hit .238 in 168 at-bats. He played second, short, third and all three outfield positions.

Overall, Amarista is a .231 career hitter with a 64 wRC+. He has played every position on the diamond except catcher and first base.

Amarista’s role in Detroit

With Jose Iglesias entrenched at shortstop and Dixon Machado expected to be the starter at second base, the Tigers only have bench roles available.

We spoke about the competition for Detroit’s utility infielder role a few weeks ago. We stated that veteran Pete Kozma has the upper hand, but a trio of youngsters (Ronny Rodriguez, Niko Goodrum and Kody Eaves) will compete for the position as well.

Amarista’s signing brings another name into the mix.

The veteran has extensive experience all across the diamond, something that will give him an advantage heading into spring training. He could fill an Andrew Romine role as a utility infielder AND a backup outfielder. Kozma and the rookies do not have as much experience in the outfield, something that the Tigers will consider when looking at who to keep on the roster.

His experience and versatility are nice, but Amarista has his red flags as well.

For starters, Amarista is not a good hitter. While his 64 wRC+ is tied with Machado’s 2017 mark, his inability to draw a walk has kept his on-base percentage below .300 in every season of his big league career. Utility infielders are rarely good hitters, but at 28 Amarista has little room to grow.

Defensively, while Amarista has a lot of versatility, he does not post good metrics at any position. Amarista has posted a negative UZR at every position except third base and left field in his career. His career mark at second base is -5.1 and shortstop is -4.4.

Next: Competition brewing for utility infield role

Amarista is a defensively versatile player who offers little offense and little defense. His experience and ability to play the outfield should give him a leg up on the competition. However, Kozma, Rodriguez and Goodrum all still have a chance to beat him out in camp and take the role.