Detroit Tigers Free Agents: 5 ways to spend $50 million

Tigers general manager Al Avila answers questions during a press conference at Comerica Park.
Tigers general manager Al Avila answers questions during a press conference at Comerica Park. /
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Detroit Tigers Free Agency Option 3: Marcus Stroman, Chris Taylor, and Mark Canha

Detroit Tigers
Marcus Stroman throws a pitch against the Philadelphia Phillies. Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports /

Marcus Stroman is the headliner here, but this class is mostly about positional flexibility. As an undersized pitcher without truly electric stuff, Stroman has been defying the odds even since college. He’s not a true ace, but few pitchers have been more consistent and reliable over the last six years. He did miss part of 2018 with shoulder woes, and a torn calf muscle kept him out in 2020, but in every other season his numbers are like clockwork: 180+ innings, low walks and homers, lots of ground balls, an ERA in the mid-3s, and a WAR of 3-4. He’s still just 30, and he could be a perfect veteran presence for Detroit’s young rotation.

Chris Taylor and Mark Canha, meanwhile, don’t necessarily fit any specific needs for Detroit. But A.J. Hinch is one of the best managers in baseball when it comes to mixing and matching his lineups to put players in the best position to succeed. They both offer solid power, speed, and on-base production, and tremendous defensive versatility. Taylor has played more than 250 games at shortstop, another 120 at second base, and nearly 200 apiece in center field and left field. He might not excel at any one of those positions, but his ability to move around could help Hinch keep young players like Akil Baddoo, Riley Greene, and Ryan Kreidler in favorable matchups.

Mark Canha is, in some ways, a more versatile version of Robbie Grossman. Over the past three seasons he has batted .250 with a 13.3% walk rate, a 21.1% strikeout rate, 48 home runs, and 19 steals, good for a wRC+ of 129. He fits best in an outfield corner, but in the last three years he has also seen more than 80 starts in center field, and another 20 or so at first base. All that adds up to an fWAR of 8.6, which is roughly the same a Kris Bryant over the same time period.