Detroit Tigers sign C.J. Cron, Jonathan Schoop to upgrade infield

(Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Tigers have made two additions to their infield for 2019, signing former Minnesota Twins C.J. Cron and Jonathan Schoop.

The Detroit Tigers made two significant additions to their infield for 2020 on Saturday, signing two veterans, first baseman C.J. Cron and second baseman Jonathan Schoop, to one-year deals for $6.1 million each.

Cron, 29, became a free agent after the Minnesota Twins non-tendered him earlier this offseason. In 2019, Cron hit 24 doubles and 25 home runs while driving in a career-high 78. He had hit 30 home runs with the Tamps Bay Rays in 2018. He’s not one to take many walks, as his OBP was just .311 this past season. He’s also posted a negative defensive WAR every year of his career.

Still, Cron figures to be an upgrade for an offense that struggled mightily in 2019. He should get the bulk of the playing time at first base and provide some pop for a team that didn’t see a player hit more than 15 home runs in 2019. Furthermore, the Tigers didn’t have to overpay for Cron, as had projected that Cron would make $7.7 million in 2020.

Schoop, 28, also comes over as a free agent from the defending American League Central Champion Twins. 2019 was not his best year, but he still put up a respectable .777 OPS while hitting 23 doubles and 23 home runs and driving in 59. On defense, Schoop’s range factor slipped significantly at second base from 2018, while his fielding percentage was also below the league average.

Still, as with Cron, Schoop figures to be a big upgrade for the Tigers’ offense. Just two years ago, he was an All-Star with the Baltimore Orioles and finished 12th in AL MVP voting, as he hit 32 home runs and drove in 105 while batting .293. He posted a 5.2 WAR that year; last year, that number was 1.6.

While Cron and Schoop aren’t superstars, they are exactly the kind of free agent signings that the Tigers figured to be interested in making this offseason. We know the team won’t be ready to contend in 2020, but after winning just 47 games in 2019 they needed to make some additions that will at least make them marginally better.

It’s also possible that the Tigers could flip one or both of these players for prospects at the trade deadline should they have good first halves. In any case, give credit to the Tigers’ front office credit for trying to make the roster more competitive for 2020. It will be interesting to see if any additional moves follow, particularly for the outfield.

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