Detroit Tigers: Who will be the Opening Day Second Baseman?

DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 18: Dixon Machado #49 of the Detroit Tigers gets the game winning single in the twelfth inning and celebrate as he rounds the bases during the game against the Kansas City Royals on September 18, 2015 at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the Royals 5-4. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 18: Dixon Machado #49 of the Detroit Tigers gets the game winning single in the twelfth inning and celebrate as he rounds the bases during the game against the Kansas City Royals on September 18, 2015 at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the Royals 5-4. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images) /
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With the Tigers rebuilding, it was presumed Detroit would mostly steer clear of the veteran free agent market. So far that has rung true (minus innings-eater Mike Fiers and speedy center fielder Leonys Martin), but if the Tigers want to look outside the organization for second base help, it could be had in the form of veteran free agents Brandon Phillips or Neil Walker.

Now 36, Phillips has seen his defense slip a little over the last couple of years. He can still hit though, posting a .285 average and 34 doubles with the Braves and Angels in 2017.

Despite his age, Phillips’ 2017 numbers compare favorably with Kinsler’s. Phillips hit nearly 50 points higher, and despite drawing only 21 walks, was still slightly better by both wOBA (.316 to .313) and wRC+ (93 to 91). While those numbers are below league average, they’re easier to swallow when the player isn’t making $11 million, as Kinsler was last year.

The brother-in-law of former Tigers fan favorite Don Kelly, Walker entered the offseason reportedly searching for a four-year deal. With no takers to this point, Detroit could offer a short-term deal for Walker to try and regain some of the value he lost in a down 2017 campaign.

Walker is a switch-hitter with a career .272/.341/.437 slash line and eight straight double-digit homer seasons. While he’s the best hitter of the bunch we’ve highlighted, he lacks the defensive skills of Machado.

Next: A fantasy baseball guide to your Tigers

The Verdict

Ultimately, Machado is the guy at second. The thought of a veteran who can bring more offense to the table is intriguing, but Machado is much better defensively. It also isn’t completely out of the question for his offense to spike a little if given the chance to play everyday. The job is his to lose.