Detroit Tigers: 1 contract extension to make and 1 to avoid

May 16, 2023; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Tigers center fielder Riley Greene (31) celebrates his
May 16, 2023; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Tigers center fielder Riley Greene (31) celebrates his / Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
2 of 3

Extension to make: Riley Greene

This is a pretty straightforward and easy decision here as Riley Greene is far and away the most talented and currently promising young player on the Tigers’ roster. Before he went down with a stress fracture in his left fibula, Riley was slashing .296/.362/.443 with a 127 wRC+. He is one of those rare talents that can do pretty much anything on a baseball field and has the hit tool to make all of it play.

Realistically, there are few other options for the Tigers to consider here. Spencer Torkelson has the prospect pedigree and name recognition certainly, but he has struggled to be a league-average hitter in the big leagues ever since his promotion despite all of that talent. Zach McKinstry and Jake Rogers are good to great defensively, but don’t bring a lot to the table offensively. As for Detroit’s young pitchers, well…we will talk about them here in a minute.

Giving Greene an extension absolutely comes with some risk. Locking in a guy with less than a full season of big league plate appearances under his belt for what would be some pretty significant money (and that is assuming he would be interested) could easily backfire if he takes a step back and doesn’t produce.

That said, this is a risk that the Tigers at least need to try and take. An extension with Greene this early on would likely only give the team a year or two of extra team control. However, it would also lock in his salary for his arbitration years which is a pretty big deal. Arbitration for players who perform well is not getting any cheaper and getting some cost-certainty for those years has a lot of value when it comes to roster planning.

It does take two to tango here and Greene may think that hitting free agency at 28 years old with his skillset could line him up for a huge payday and he may very well be right. However, getting a big chunk of money guaranteed to him this early in his career also has a ton of value and his recent injury may help remind him that nothing is certain until deals are signed.