2021 Detroit Tigers Catchers: Party Like its 2017
In my first piece here at Motor City Bengals I discussed why I believe it will be one-year deals Al Avila will be dishing out this offseason. Now let’s take a look at the needs behind the dish for the 2021 Detroit Tigers campaign.
Recapping the 2020 Detroit Tigers backstop situation, Austin Romine got off to a nice start but cooled considerably as the season progressed. His .291/.308/.417 from July and August contrasts greatly from his .157/.185/.176 September. He walked a grand total of 4 times in 135 PAs. His -.4 WAR 2020 effort took his career total to -.5,
He has basically been a replacement-level player throughout his career and replacing is what Al Avila should be looking to do if the Detroit Tigers 2021 squad is really looking to move forward as many believe the hiring of AJ Hinch signifies
Grayson Greiner, what can I say here. Well, how about he seems to be a wonderful human being. I think it’s safe to say I’ve seen enough of him in his 395 Plate Appearances across 3 seasons that I don’t want him flying aboard the team plane heading north from Lakeland unless it makes a stop in Toledo.
So who does don the tools of ignorance for 2021? You could do a lot worse than bringing back the 2017 dynamic duo of James McCann and Alex Avila.
I was ready to move on from James McCann after 2017 and fully supported the non-tender from our often much-maligned front office. Since then he has discovered how to hit, tapping into some of what we thought he could become at the plate and leaving that .581 OPS in his last season calling Detroit home in the dust. 2019’s slash line of .273/.328/.460 was followed up with .289/.360/.536 in his 31 game contribution to the 2020 sprint. Turning 31 in June, there is reason to believe that there is another prime season or two for the 2020 Gold Glove finalist to contribute.
There could be too much competition to get him on a 1-year deal. I see the Mets and Nationals as good fits just off the top of my head, but if the market is stingy as many predict and he isn’t bitter about his unceremonious departure from Detroit, a reunion might be worth exploring. Offer the most money for 2021 and see what happens. Overpaying for 1 year is not a concern.
Alex Avila would be the 2nd half of the 2017 reunion tour. He didn’t do much in his time in Minnesota, but he was limited to just 62 PAs. Having the veteran presence that can draw a walk along with providing a little lefty pop with the bat in a backup role and there isn’t much downside to him working with his old partner in crime again.
Where does this leave Jake Rogers you ask? Without having any 2020 minor league baseball to pass judgment, we can only speculate. It was quite telling with the struggles behind the plate in the month of September that Al Avila and his trusty cohorts decided not to give him a look. I’d have him starting at AAA, getting his next look when he earns the opportunity. Taking at-bats away from Avila would not be a worry when the time arises.
I don’t give this scenario a huge chance of playing out but the catcher spot absolutely needs to be addressed. Assuming they are not diving into the Realmuto pool, who I think will remain stationed in Philadelphia, this approach would be an upgrade at the position. It would also give us a reason to dust off those 2017 Detroit Tigers yearbooks for an autograph day at the ballpark.