The Detroit Tigers can’t have Jonathan Schoop on the roster again in 2023
When the Detroit Tigers signed Jonathan Schoop to a two-year, $15 million extension before the end of last season, it seemed like a good move at the time. Schoop had been a steady 2-2.5 WAR player who can hit for power, and at second base, that’s really all you need.
But 2022 has been by far the worst season of Schoop’s career. The 30-year-old is currently the worst qualified hitter in all of baseball in terms of wRC+. He pretty much only hits singles these days. His $7.5 million salary isn’t much in the grand scheme of things, but surely they can get more bang for their buck than that.
The Detroit Tigers have a slew of young guys that will get more playing time in 2023, such as Ryan Kreidler and Andre Lipcius. They can’t keep an aging second baseman who can’t hit on the roster, blocking a spot for somebody who can actually be useful.
That’s not to say Schoop hasn’t been valuable this year. His defense at second base has been elite, as he still leads the league in Statcast outs above average. As a result, he still has a 1.2 fWAR this season.
Then there’s the issue of Javier Baez and a potential move to second base. The Tigers haven’t said anything about it, but it would be a benefit to both Baez and the team in the long term if he moved to the right side of the infield. If Schoop is still on the roster next year, that obviously makes it harder to make that move.
The biggest hurdle to this actually happening is Chris Ilitch. Would he be content with eating the rest of the money that’s owed to Schoop so the Tigers can use that extra roster spot on someone else? After all, it’s only $7.5 million. It would be a lot easier to swallow Schoop’s money than swallow, say, the rest of Miguel Cabrera’s contract.
Of course, Schoop could also opt out after this season, but that seems highly unlikely. Why would he opt out after the season he’s had? He did switch agents again earlier this year, so he’s no longer a Scott Boras client. Perhaps he sees the writing on the wall, but that’s pure speculation.
If the Tigers do decide to keep Schoop around for next season, he could end up playing a utility role. He plays a solid first base, and has the arm to play third. But his bat just isn’t good enough to get everyday at-bats anymore.
I liked the Jonathan Schoop signing at the time. I thought it made a lot of sense given his play the previous two seasons, and it was a relatively cheap signing. But it simply hasn’t worked out. Schoop may be an elite defender, but his terrible bat makes him not worth a roster spot in 2023. The Detroit Tigers need to move on from him this offseason.