Detroit Tigers lack of infield depth is worrisome going into 2024.
The Detroit Tigers lack infield depth. If the team is going to head into 2024 with their current roster, things could get ugly. Listen, as a love of all things MACtion myself, I want to give Zach McKinstry my vote of confidence as a former MAC standout with Central Michigan.
But assuming that McKinstry can come out and be an everyday middle infielder for the Detroit Tigers in 2024 is a bit over the line. The 28-year-old utility man has a chance to stick with Detroit and be the same type of player he was in 2023, but expecting him to grind out 162 games as a second baseman is a bit concerning.
Not to mention, Matt Vierling being the starting third baseman in 2024 should raise some eyebrows. But, instead of addressing the need, the Tigers are opting to role with Vierling and see if he can be serviceable at third base. Even if all goes well and Vierling finds a way to carve out a role at the hot corner, there will be a need for a better option in the near future.
The point is, that the team is running on stopgaps in two infield positions, and the lack of depth beyond the stopgaps is concerning. Even if the Tigers did not intend to come out and compete in 2024, something has to be done moving forward. Sure, there's room to elevate prospects, but the lack of depth may cause some to make jumps earlier than anticipated.
Detroit has lock-down pieces in Javier Báez and Spencer Torkelson. Báez, due to his lengthy contract, and Torkelson, one of their premier future talents, has started to come into his own as a big leaguer. But Vierling and McKinstry are liabilities. They serve a role with this Tigers team and are needed, but they are liabilities; let's not beat around the bush.
Beyond those two, the bench has a couple of options. Tyler Nevin returns, Andy Ibañez is still around, and Nick Maton may earn himself another try with the big-league club. But all three of those options, again, are temporary fixes but not long-term options. Beyond that, the attention shifts to the minors.
In the minors, there are few options on the 40-man roster that the team can call upon. Andre Lipcius could draw some reps at third base, and Wenceel Perez is still trying to prove he deserves big-league looks. Ryan Kreidler is also still on the 40-man and will likely serve as the quad-A guy for this upcoming season.
That leaves Jace Jung and Colt Keith in the spotlight, but neither player is on the 40-man roster. Detroit's got some options, but the lack of sustainable depth without burning 40-man roster spots is concerning. Heading into 2024 there are holes, big ones.
Personally, I believe in Scott Harris and have nearly written off 2024, but things need to start trending in the right direction this year. The lack of depth on the infield and overall on this team, worries me. Outside of the bullpen, depth may be an issue in 2024.