Detroit Tigers: Guessing the 60-Man Roster

WEST PALM BEACH, FL - MARCH 09: Manager Ron Gardenhire #15 of the Detroit Tigers in action against the Houston Astros during a spring training baseball game at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on March 9, 2020 in West Palm Beach, Florida. The Astros defeated the Tigers 2-1. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
WEST PALM BEACH, FL - MARCH 09: Manager Ron Gardenhire #15 of the Detroit Tigers in action against the Houston Astros during a spring training baseball game at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on March 9, 2020 in West Palm Beach, Florida. The Astros defeated the Tigers 2-1. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /
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Al Avila has till noon on Sunday to submit the 60-man roster. Let’s make some predictions on who will be on the 60-man Detroit Tigers roster.

This 2020 season will go down as one of the strangest ones of all time with taxi squads becoming a term that was introduced in the baseball lexicon and  a Tigers player, and a staff person tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.  Al Avila has been busy with finalizing draft signings and talking to his staff about the roster as the Detroit Tigers head towards a July 1st spring training start in Detroit, the first time “spring training” has been held in Detroit in over 100 years.

Spring training was back in March but we may have forgotten the hot week by Travis Demeritte in which he had two multi-homer games,  the injury of Issac Paredes in camp, limiting to how much he was seen in camp or that the newest Detroit Tiger, Shao-Ching Chiang was throwing 97-98 MPH.

So let’s factor in a bit of what we saw in March, add the 2020 MLB Draft in the mix, and introduce the 60-man roster predictions. It’s important to remember that the Tigers used 53 players in 2019 so drive up I-75 could be frequent for players. Also, another factor to remember.  Players will not earn service time if they are on the taxi squad.  As I put the various groups down, I will state my case on why some names may end up on this roster. The ones in bold are not on the roster.

Pitchers:

  • Starters:  Matthew Boyd, Spencer Turnbull, Ivan Nova, Jordan Zimmermann, Daniel Norris, Michael Fulmer, Tyler Alexander,  Casey Mize, Matt Manning, Tarik Skubal, Alex Faedo, Shao-Ching Chiang, Dario Agrazal.  Total number of starters: 13

Why is Chiang starting versus out of the bullpen? According to Ron Gardenhire back in the spring, they had no defined role for Chiang. He has been always a starter when he pitched in the Indians system. You could see Chiang and Agrazal get starts before Mize, Manning, or Skubal simply because of not starting the service time clock. For now, let Chiang get starter reps.

  • Relievers: Joe Jimenez, Buck Farmer, Bryan Garcia, Rony Garcia, Gregory Soto, Jose Cisnero, David McKay, John Schreiber, Anthony Castro, Franklin Perez, Kyle Funkhouser, Beau Burrows, Nick Ramirez, Zack Godley. Total number of relievers: 14

While I am a fan of lefties, I feel the upside of Zack Godley over Hector Santiago is with age and better secondary pitches. We can continue to see Perez get healthy and evaluate the new roles of Burrows and Funkhouser.

Infielders:

Miguel Cabrera,  C.J. Cron, Jonathan Schoop, Niko Goodrum, Jeimer Candelario, Harold Castro, Jordy Mercer, Frank Schwindel, Willi Castro, Dawel Lugo, Isaac Paredes, Daniel Pinero, Kody Clemens, Sergio Alcantara, Spencer Torkelson, Kennys Vargas. The total amount of infielders: 16

I went with Vargas over Brandon Dixon because of Vargas’s familiarity with Gardenhire. Dixon and Vargas are both power first bats that strike out a ton. While Dixon has the ability to play anywhere, an NL team may come calling with the new universal DH rule and he could be a short term solution to a team. The Tigers were intrigued by Vargas after he left Japan in the winter so why not kick the tires around.  Pinero’s versatility in spring training helped his cause as a Tigers prospect.

Catchers:

Austin Romine, Eric Haase, Grayson Greiner, Jake Rogers, Cooper Johnson.  Total number of catchers: 5

We saw seven catchers in camp of which, three were new faces in Jhon Nunez, (acquired when Matt Hall was sent to Boston)  Eric Haase and Austin Romine. It was projected that Rogers would start in Toledo and Nunez would be in Erie, leaving the backup battle to Haase and Greiner. I believe if the minor league season was going on, Dillon Dingler would have started in West Michigan but I would give the nod to Cooper Johnson over Dingler.

Johnson got some time in camp, walked at West Michigan at a 14% clip, and had a good BABIP of .344. He certainly will not see the major league level anytime soon and still has to hit in the higher levels.  But you can’t ignore his receiving skills, which were praised by Baseball America in 2019.

"If Johnson can just hit .230 in pro ball, he’ll play for a very long time. And even if he hits .210 he still might be a future big leaguer, simply because scouts are that confident in Johnson’s excellent glovework behind the plate. Johnson is one of the best receivers in college baseball."

Outfielders

Christin Stewart, Victor Reyes, JaCoby Jones, Cameron Maybin, Travis Demeritte, Derek Hill, Troy Stokes, Jr, Daz Cameron, Jorge Bonifacio, Riley Greene, Jose Azocar, Danny Woodrow.  Total number of outfielders: 12

I was debating about a free agent signing (cough, cough Yasel Puig) over Troy Stokes Jr but just judging by the lack of moment of unsigned free agents, not sure if Detroit will spend money. In turn, if that was to happen, then more than likely,  Demeritte would start down in Toledo.

If there are any serious injuries, I would think the first to get called up would be Bonifacio because of his time in Kansas City. This could be a point of weakness for Detroit because if you look at who they would have to call up, none of the players have major league experience. The Detroit Tigers should look into signing a veteran if they are going to attempt to compete in this shortened schedule. Otherwise, there are two University of Vanderbilt pitchers to chose from next season.