Catchers: James McCann and John Hicks
I don’t expect major changes behind the dish. McCann is arb eligible with an expected salary around $3.5M. While some think he could be non-tendered, I don’t think the team saw enough from Hicks or Grayson Greiner to be the full-time guy behind the plate.
I think Hicks will play some first base, but will serve primarily as the team’s backup catcher. If he does well or if Greiner looks good in Toledo, McCann could be trade bait for catcher-needy teams.
First Base: Logan Morrison
I profiled Morrison, along with Luis Valbuena and Lucas Duda, as free agent first base options Detroit could go after this offseason. Morrison had an ugly 2018, hitting just .186 with 15 home runs, but he blasted 38 round-trippers in 2017. I think there’s some rebound value here, and Detroit could use another pure left-handed hitter in their lineup. Morrison is a solid fielder as well – and makes an intriguing trade candidate if he can rebound in the first half next season.
Second Base: Niko Goodrum
Goodrum was a revelation for the Tigers last season, coming to the team as a low-key minor league free agent and hitting a tidy .245/.315/.432 with 16 home runs, 12 stolen bases and excellent positional versatility. However, he was at his best at the keystone, and I think he goes into 2019 as Detroit’s starting second baseman.
Shortstop: Jose Iglesias
I don’t think Iggy’s time away from the Tigers will last very long. There are plenty of reasons for Detroit to bring him back, most notably the lack of internal options to replace him and the limited need for a starting shortstop around the league. I think Iggy will end up back in Detroit on a one or two-year deal, serving as a nice stopgap for potential successors in Sergio Alcantara, Willi Castro or even Wenceel Perez.
Third Base: Jeimer Candelario
Candelario cemented himself as Detroit’s starting third baseman of the future, earning 619 plate appearances and hitting 19 home runs with a .224 average. He fell off toward the end of the season, but the Candy Man will be a big part of the Detroit Tigers in 2019.
Utility: Ronny Rodriguez
However, I think they’ll stick with Rodriguez, as Lugo could use some extra time in Triple-A. Rodriguez did not look good in the big leagues last season, but his positional versatility and strong hitting in Triple-A could make him a solid utility guy next year.