Detroit Tigers free agent profile: Mitch Haniger

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 05: Mitch Haniger #17 of the Seattle Mariners celebrates his home run against the Detroit Tigers during the first inning at T-Mobile Park on October 05, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 05: Mitch Haniger #17 of the Seattle Mariners celebrates his home run against the Detroit Tigers during the first inning at T-Mobile Park on October 05, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images) /
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The Detroit Tigers are looking for a RH-hitting OF, and Mitch Haniger seems like a good fit

At this week’s GM Meetings in Las Vegas, Detroit Tigers president of baseball operations Scott Harris spoke to the media and finally laid out his plan for the offseason. One of the things he said he’s looking to add to the team is a right-handed outfield bat.

Of course, arguably the top free agent available is a right-handed outfielder in Aaron Judge, but there’s a subzero chance he ends up in Detroit. Instead, we’re going to look at a much more realistic option in former Mariners outfielder Mitch Haniger.

Haniger, who will turn 32 next month, has really solid career numbers. His slash line is .261/.335/.476 with a 122 wRC+. He has 8.9% BB rate and 23.9% K rate. His best year came in 2018, when he racked up 4.8 fWAR and a 137 wRC+. In 2021, he hit 39 homers. The guy can rake.

The biggest issue for Haniger throughout his career has been is inability to stay on the field. Some of it, however, has been quite freakish. For example, he was hit in face with a 95 mph fastball from Jacob deGrom in 2017. In 2019, he ruptured one of his testicles after fouling a ball off his groin area. Ouch. The multiple surgeries that followed caused him to miss the shortened 2020 season.

After a fantastic 2021 season, a nagging ankle injury caused him to miss 105 games in 2022. In the 57 games he did play, he slashed .246/.308/.429 with 11 home runs and a 113 wRC+.

One of Haniger’s best traits over the past few years has been his ability to barrel up the baseball. He’s had a barrel rate of at least 11% each of the last three years he’s played. The Detroit Tigers desparately need more hitters who hit the ball hard.

Defensively, he’s okay out there. He’s mostly played right field the past several years, where he’s racked up 21 defensive runs saved. However, he has -3 outs above average for his career. He’s not a total liability, as he’s got a pretty good arm, but he’s not exactly Andruw Jones out there either.

Spotrac projects Haniger to receive a four-year, $60 million deal, which seems a little high given his injury history. He seems like a guy who will have to settle for a “prove it” kind of deal. I’ve seen two years, $20 million attached to his name. That seems a bit more realistic. His agent may squeeze a player option in there as well.

Haniger seems like a real good fit for the Detroit Tigers. It would likely be a short term deal for a guy that’s performed well in the past when healthy. If Scott Harris decides to go the free agent route to find his right-handed outfielder, Haniger is probably his best bet.

Next. Tigers building depth; add Andy Ibáñez off waivers. dark

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