Spring training is only about a month away. In just about 30 days time, we'll be getting the sights and sounds of baseball. The Detroit Tigers are set to have some pretty interesting roster battles this spring.
There are at least four starting pitchers vying for two, possibly three spots. There will also be competitive battles for third base, utilityman, and the bullpen. Scott Harris has said that he wants competition this spring, and it sure looks like he's going to get it.
But just because a player earns a spot on the Opening Day roster, doesn't guarentee that he'll keep it all season long. For example, Nick Maton won the third base job out of camp last season, but was in Triple-A by the All-Star break. Spencer Torkelson was also sent down at the All-Star break in 2022. This roster will likely be a revolving door once again in 2024.
So today, we're going to go through four players who will in a a spot on the 2024 Opening Day roster, but won't survive the season. Some of these will be pretty obvious, but others will be just a gut feeling. Let us begin.
McKinstry seems like a pretty good bet to make the team, much to my personal dismay. After a red-hot six week stretch from mid-April through the end of May, he was looking like a beast of a leadoff hitter. Then he came crashing back down to earth, and never recovered.
While he has many shortcomings at the plate — like an inability to lay off sliders at his feet — McKinstry is quite athletic, having great baserunning skiils. He also played solid defense at many positions, including the outfield. He actually has a pretty good arm.
He's a scrappy player, and A.J. Hinch likes scrappy players. Thus, he'll probably win a roster spot out of camp. However, at some point, a need for more offensive firepower will probably push him off the team.
The Tigers have guys like Justyn-Henry Malloy and Eddys Leonard, who both have huge defensive question marks, but have shown the ability to hit consistently at the Triple-A level. Even if they aren't big-league regulars, they could still carve out a nice role for themselves as bench bats.
The Tigers have to get offense from somewhere. It probably isn't going to come from Zach McKinstry. He'll make the initial 26-man roster, but he's not going to survive the 2024 season.