The Detroit Tigers might have an opportunity to reunite with a couple of familiar faces in 2021
The season is officially over with the Los Angeles Dodgers claiming World Series victory, meaning the attention officially shifts to the 2021 season for the Detroit Tigers and the rest of the league. The Tigers are coming off a season in which they finished with the third-worst record in the league; so if the goal is ‘building up’ at this point as Avila has alluded to, some key additions will be necessary.
There are many unknowns. Not only are the Detroit Tigers likely to be fiscally conservative after a strange shortened season, but there is still a chance that a 2021 season does not happen altogether. For these reasons, adding significant free agents during the offseason, while encouraged and welcomed, feels unrealistic. Add to that we haven’t seen ownership make a splash since the passing of Mike Illitch and these options may be a pipedream.
However, if the Detroit Tigers do decide to dip into the wallet and get aggressive during a time in which teams are likely to be pulling back, there are opportunities for the club to add a pair of pieces that they remain familiar with.
RHP Shane Greene
Since getting traded to the Atlanta Braves, Shane Greene continued to offer quality innings for an Atlanta bullpen which desperately needed support. In 2019 between the Tigers and Braves, Greene pitched to a 2.30 ERA and offered a 2.60 ERA in 2020 with Atlanta; although his strikeouts per nine innings dipped from 9.2 in 2019 to 6.8 in 2020.
Greene’s fastball velocity also ranks in the 16th percentile among relievers and batters hit an astounding .667 off his four-seamer in 2020 according to Baseball Savant; however, that number is a 2 for 3 clip as Greene relies heavily on his Sinker/Cutter combination; which, along with his slider, all feature above-average horizontal movement.
Although Greene may not be the closer he was for the Tigers in 2019, he still could provide veteran, valuable innings for a Tiger relief corps that features a couple of exciting but young arms.
Nick Castellanos, OF
Castellanos was traded to the Cubs before signing with the Cincinnati Reds in the offseason. Although the former Tigers outfielder signed a 4 year, $64 million deal with the Reds last offseason, he does has an opt-out clause he could exercise. Not to mention, he pimps home runs off Trevor Bauer. What is not to love?
I find it hard to believe, given the uncertainties of a 2021 season, that Castellanos would test the free-agent waters once again, but there is a chance he could be looking for work in 2021. Castellanos hit 14 home runs across 60 games last season but played below replacement level in part thanks to his pedestrian .225 batting average and his continued subpar defensive efforts in right field.
Some remain steadfast that ridding Castellanos was a blessing, to which I must say has some validity to it. As much as the offense has been missed, his defense has never graded anywhere near average in right. However, for the Tigers, the options in the outfield remain slim internally. Christin Stewart was demoted, the club did not seem sold on Travis Demeritte, Jorge Bonafacio was designated for assignment, JaCoby Jones has struggled to stay healthy, and Daz Cameron just got his first taste of the major leagues late last year. Castellanos, despite his hot and cold nature, would provide an upgrade to a right-field spot in which Cameron and Bonafacio supplied a combined overall bWAR of -1.1 in 2020.
It remains unclear what the Detroit Tigers’ offseason figures to look like. However, if they intend to stay the course with their rebuild and attempt to win more games in 2021, Shane Greene and Nick Castellanos would both help the team achieve that goal. They are not likely the finishing pieces to a World Series contender, but they will nevertheless provide stability and reliability to a team that could use some short-term reinforcements.