The Detroit Tigers have already made a couple decent moves this offseason. They traded for OF Mark Canha in early November, and they signed SP Kenta Maeda to a two-year deal earlier this week.
There's still more work to be done, but to give readers an idea of where things stand, we figured we'd take a lot at what the Tigers 26-man roster currently looks like ahead of next week's Winter Meetings.
We will go position by position and look at who would be on the Opening Day roster if the season started today. Some positions have more questions than others. The bullpen, for example, is pretty thin at the moment.
So let's lay things out and give everyone an idea of where things stand for the Detroit Tigers as we head into the Winter Meetings.
Catcher: Jake Rogers, Carson Kelly
After the season he had, Rogers has more than earned the starting catcher spot. His defense is great, and while he doesn't hit for much average, the power is undeniable. Anytime you can get 21 home runs out of your catcher position, you take that and run with it.
I suppose there's a chance someone like Dillon Dingler could supplant Kelly as the backup catcher, but I think he's pretty safe. They took his club option for a reason. They seem to like him, and he performed well enough down the stretch last year where he's earned the backup role.
First base: Spencer Torkelson
Not much to say here. While Tork could easily stand to improve defensively, we finally got a glimpse of how good that bat could be. Hopefully we see further improvement in the regard in 2024.
Second base: Colt Keith
Keith should be the Opening Day second baseman for the Tigers in 2024. The only reason he shouldn't be is if he's injured.
He played more and more second base as the year went on in 2023 because the organization isn't as confident in his throwing arm as they used to be. With his bat, we can handle the lumps he could take defensively.
Third base: Andy Ibanez, Matt Vierling
As of right now, the Tigers *still* don't have a designated third baseman on the roster. It would probably a split between Andy Ibanez, Matt Vierling, or even Zach McKinstry. Oh boy, so exciting.
Shortstop: Javier Baez
Yeah, I'm not happy about it either. But the reality of the situation is that Javier Baez is this team's shortstop for 2024, and likely beyond. The soone fans come to terms with that, the happier they will be.
Outfield: Mark Canha (LF), Parker Meadows (CF), Kerry Carpenter (RF).
To save some time here, we're going to lump the entire outfield into one section. Canha will likely man left field for now, with Meadows in center and Carpenter in right. Eventually, things will change a bit once they get this next guy back fully healthy.
Designated hitter: Riley Greene
For now, Greene will take the Bryce Harper approach and DH until his elbow has healed enough for him to start throwing again. It won't take as a long since he's not a pitcher, but for at least the first month of the season, Greene will be the designated hitter.
Utility: Zach McKinstry, Justyn-Henry Malloy
It doesn't seem like McKinstry is going anywhere, and Malloy's bat is ready for the big leagues. They just have to find a place for him defensively.
Starting rotation: Tarik Skubal, Kenta Maeda, Casey Mize, Matt Manning, Reese Olson
This is in no particular order, this is just who the Tigers have pegged to be in the 2024 starting rotation as of right now. Unless they land as ace later this offseason, Skubal should be the Opening Day starter.
I still fully anticipate a Matt Manning trade, but for now, he still gets a spot. Hopefully, Mize is fully ready for spring training.
Bullpen: Alex Lange, Jason Foley, Tyler Holton, Will Vest, Beau Brieske, Brendan White, Miguel Diaz, Alex Faedo
Yeah, it's a grab bag full of goodies for the bullpen right now. I would say at least three of the names you see here won't actually be on the Opening Day roster in 2024.
For starters, there's only one lefty here (Holton). With A.J. Hinch's ability to mix and match, you're going to want at least two southpaws, if not three.
Looking at this bullpen as assembled currently, I might bump this up as a bigger need than finding another starter. At least they can fill out a rotation right now. This bullpen is...not great.