Detroit Tigers: Non-Tender Candidates for the 2021 Season

KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - SEPTEMBER 25: Brandon Dixon #9 of the Detroit Tigers fields a ball in the eighth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on September 25, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - SEPTEMBER 25: Brandon Dixon #9 of the Detroit Tigers fields a ball in the eighth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on September 25, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images) /

There are a few players on the Detroit Tigers’ 40-man roster that may not be tendered a contract for 2021

The club has finally started to see an influx of talent entering the major leagues. The Detroit Tigers have now had Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, Isaac Paredes, Derek Hill, and Daz Cameron all with the big league club; and while exciting, injuries have been a large part of the opportunities the prospects have seen thus far.

Because many of the moves have been made in correspondence with an injured list addition, the Tigers didn’t have to fret about any risk with a roster crunch. Moving into the offseason, several players will need to be added to the 40-man roster to avoid eligibility for the Rule 5 Draft–Alex Faedo and Matt Manning to name a couple. If they do try to protect some of their younger talent in this way, there are a few players the Detroit Tigers may opt to remove to free up space:

Dario Agrazal

Agrazal was signed from the Pittsburgh Pirates and was designed to offer some depth for starting pitching in the minor leagues (before the season was turned upside down). Unfortunately for Agrazal, the circumstances never worked in his favor. The team had sufficient pitching at the front of the season and before any shifts were able to be made, Agrazal was placed on the injured list with a forearm strain that ended up keeping him from pitching through the season.

The saving grace for Agrazal may be that the club lacks starting pitching depth beyond Toledo, so they could use an arm or two there, but the team may also opt for another avenue to fill that void or simply sign Agrazal to a minor league deal after he clears waivers.

Grayson Greiner

It was brief, but Greiner’s 2020 campaign was rough, especially offensively. The right-handed catcher hit .118 on the year with a .182 on-base clip and would eventually get swapped for Eric Haase. Greiner was never on the team for his offensive abilities, but he is also in the 19th percentile of the league for framing as well, which suggests he may struggle to steal strikes for pitchers.

Greiner remains inexpensive for the club, but with Jake Rogers likely to at least take a backup role, it would seem Greiner may be the odd-man-out in the catching room, depending on how they intend to address the starting job for 2021.

Eric Haase

Speaking of backup catchers, Haase is another player the club may use to clear a roster spot. Haase was only with the MLB club for a whopping 17 at-bats, so judging his .176 batting average or his .211 on-base numbers may be a bit unfair. However, Haase showed inconsistent throws to second as well, which can be troublesome for a position on the roster typically lauded for defensive prowess.

It seems logical that one of Greiner or Haase will be on the chopping block on the 40-man, but probably not both. With Romine presumably on his way out and the starting position in flux, the club will want an option outside of Rogers internally, regardless if they decide to sign another free agent catcher in the offseason.

Brandon Dixon

Dixon was a non-roster invitee to spring training in 2020 to begin with and was only brought up when the team decided to send down Christin Stewart to get some offensive work in, so a non-tender seems likely with Dixon once again.

Dixon led the club in home runs in 2019 with 15 and offers some versatility; being able to handle the corner outfield spots as well as first base, but as far as a 40-man spot is concerned, Dixon might be wasted space, especially if the club intends to make a handful of additions as they did last offseason.

Troy Stokes Jr

Another unfortunate product of the circumstance, Troy Stokes Jr’s season was over before it ever really started. A right-hand fracture caused a trip to the injured list and would eventually end his season with the Detroit Tigers before ever having an MLB at-bat.

Stokes was claimed off of waivers from the Milwaukee Brewers, so if the club feels they can find better help elsewhere, the opportunity cost of Stokes Jr leaving the 40-man roster remains minimal.

There is still some time before these moves need to be made, but if protecting their young talent is a priority as it should be and the club intends to make some MLB signings in the offseason, these are some options for the club. Michael Fulmer, Jorge Bonafacio, Sergio Alcantara, and Christin Stewart would represent some under-the-radar candidates for a non-tender as well.