5 Detroit Tigers who could benefit from Opening Day roster expansion
The Detroit Tigers will have two more roster spots through May 1st. What will this mean for several players who could benefit from this?
According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, Major League Baseball and the MLBPA have come to terms to expand the rosters from 26 to 28 through May 1st. The Detroit Tigers will have the ability to carry two additional players for their Opening Day roster.
This should not be something new. In the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, the roster was expanded with a taxi-squad for the safety of the players. For 2022, it makes total sense of why rosters need to expand. Front office personal and coaches agree that the short spring training is not enough time to get pitchers stretched out.
If you have noticed that a lot of minor league arms that are highly regarded would normally see more innings in spring training. But because innings are limited, pitchers like Beau Brieske, the Detroit Tigers Minor League Pitcher of the Year and Joey Wentz, having been quickly dispatched back to minor league camp.
With the injury to right-hander Kyle Funkhouser, the Tigers are looking closely at several arms that could fit the void. For this 28-man roster expansion, this will favor Detroit as there will be no “cap” on the number of pitchers a team may carry. After May 1st, the Tigers will be able to just carry 13 pitchers on their roster.
So how does this change effect the Detroit Tigers Opening Day roster and who stands to benefit the most from the additional roster spots beyond just pitchers?
The Detroit Tigers outfield is getting crowded
If you look at the current outfield depth situation according to FanGraphs, the Tigers have Robbie Grossman, Akil Baddoo and Victor Reyes as the projected starting lineup against right-handers. However, we have been seeing Riley Greene start a vast majority of games this spring.
Both A.J. Hinch and Al Avila have said if Greene and Spencer Torkelson are good enough to head up to Detroit, they will. Eric Haase will see time in left-field and Harold Castro. Castro will continue to play all over the diamond.
So that leaves Victor Reyes, Daz Cameron and Derek Hill, all on the 40-man roster. Greene will be added to take the place of either Jake Rogers or Spencer Turnbull, since they are both on the 40-man roster if he makes the team.
Hill has primarily been playing centerfield since arriving in Detroit. He has shown an impressive glove and his speed makes him a plus on the bench. He hit lefties at a .302 clip in just 65 plate appearances so far in his young career and when healthy, he can cover a lot of ground at Comerica Park. He is a disruptive player when he is on base.
The advantage that Reyes has is that he is a switch hitter and can play all three positions in the outfield. While he saw his barrel rate go up last season, he had his highest strikeout rate of his career (25%) and lowest walk rate (3.6) but still struggles against off-speed pitching. The biggest thing he has to do is start turning all the ground balls he hits into extra bases. He was above the league average at 51% last season with the average being 49%.
Reyes has value on this team because he can switch and with Harold Castro being the only other bat off the bench who plays the outfield that can hit left-handed, Reyes may stick around for that purpose.
However, Greene has had a good spring and you can say yes, spring training stats do not matter but he is one of the better left-handed hitting prospects the Tigers have had in sometime. Same with Daz Cameron, who has yet to have consistent at-bats on the major league level. He has power in his bat and so far, seems better to play in the corners. He, too, like Greene, has had a good spring training so far. Tough decision forth coming but this may allow Detroit to see what they have in Cameron and Hill more.