Detroit Tigers: 5 roster battles to watch in spring training
4. Backup catcher
It sounds like Eric Haase is finally going to get his chance to be the starting catcher for the Detroit Tigers in 2023, and he's earned it. He proved that the 2021 season wasn't a fluke after a slow start last year.
But what we won't know is who will back him up. The obvious pick here would be Jake Rogers, but he's coming off Tommy John surgery and the Tigers might want to give him some at-bats in Toledo to start the year. That leaves us with a few options.
The first is Donny Sands, who was also acquired in the Gregory Soto trade. He's 26 years old and has hit well at every level of the minors. He's a real option.
The next is Marco Feliciano, who was claimed off waivers from Milwaukee. He's a bit younger at 24 and has a bit more upside. Then there's Michael Papierski, who was actually Scott Harris' first waiver claim as the Tigers president of baseball operations. He was claimed from Cincinnati back in November. He's also 26 and has shown good plate discipline in the minors.
A dark horse here who be prospect Dillon Dingler, but I wouldn't count on that. He was invited to spring training, but he would need a massive spring to crack the big league team. This is a pretty big year for him.
There's also the possibility the Tigers carry three catchers again like they did last season, but I just don't see how they can do that. They have a ton of utility guys that will probably get some playing time. Why waste a spot on a third catcher that probably won't play a lot?
If I had to choose between anybody not named Jake Rogers to win the backup job, it would probably be Sands. I think Harris acquired him for a reason. He's going to get playing time in Detroit this year, and it might be sooner than you think.