Predicting the Detroit Tigers Opening Day roster following the first round of roster cuts
We're about halfway through spring training, and some of the roster battles for the Detroit Tigers are starting to take shape. We're seeing some of these battles starting to clear up a bit. Guys are beginning to separate themselves. Some guys are also starting to play themselves out a spot.
This will be the second of three Detroit Tigers Opening Day roster projections. We're starting to get a good idea as to who will be making this team. Let's get started.
Catchers: Eric Haase, Jake Rogers
I still don't see three catchers as a possibility, but the two who are expected to make the roster have both gotten off to great starts. Haase is hitting bombs to dead center and crushing mistake pitches, which is exactly what you want to see from him.
Rogers hasn't had an at-bat since June 2021, but he hasn't missed a beat. He's already homered three times this spring, which leads the team. He's been crushing every thing in sight. He does not look like somebody who's coming off Tommy John surgery. You truly love to see it.
If they both keep hitting, the Detroit Tigers should be fine at the catcher position in 2023.
Infielders: Spencer Torkelson, Jonathan Schoop, Javier Baez, Nick Maton, Cesar Hernandez, Zack Short
Things changed a bit here from our first projection. I've speculated that Tork may not make the roster, but I don't think that's in the Tigers plans at the moment. Plus, he's taken some better swings as of late.
Schoop (Netherlands) and Baez (Puerto Rico) are both playing in the WBC for the next couple of weeks, as is Andy Ibanez (Cuba), who is also competing for a spot. I had him winning the utiilty infielder spot the first time around, but this time I went with Cesar Hernandez.
Hernandez has swung the bat well so far this spring. He's getting a long first-hand look with Ibanez in the WBC. That is going to serve him well if he keeps hitting.
I don't have Ryan Kreidler again because he hasn't hit very well in spring training. That's going to be his ticket on to the roster, and he hasn't done it. I also don't have Andre Lipcius making the team. As much as I would love to see him head to Tampa with the team on March 30, I don't think he's done quite enough yet.
There's also Tyler Nevin, who likely only makes the team if Tork struggles or an injury occurs. Additionally, it was reported today that he has an oblique injury and is schedules for an MRI. Oblique injuries can linger for a while. If they really wanted to keep him they could just stash him on the injured list.
Finally, let's get to the elephant in the room: Zack Short. I know Tigers fans are sick of seeing him here, but the fact of the matter is that he's played pretty well so far this spring and others have not. He would not play very much anyway.
It would be better for somebody like Lipcius to get everyday ABs in Toledo than for him the play sparingly in the big leagues. There's still time for him to force the issue, but this is what I'm going with for now.
Outfielders: Riley Greene, Austin Meadows, Matt Vierling, Akil Baddoo
Nothing changes here. Greene has been on fire over the past week or so. He looks really good and poised for a breakout season.
Meadows has had some good swings and some bad swings so far this spring. I think he'll get better as the spring goes on.
Vierling has also swung a good bat. He's hit a couple homers already and has hit the ball hard consistently. He also covers a ton of ground in the outfield.
Nobody has really separated themselves for that fourth outfield spot, so I'm going with Baddoo for now. He has that speed element that nobody else has.
I don't have Parker Meadows making the team just yet. I need to see more. He could very well make the third roster projection if he's still in camp and still hitting. But for now, he starts the year in Toledo.
Designated hitter: Miguel Cabrera
Miggy making it should be a surprise to no one. Kerry Carpenter not making it may be a surprise to some. I've had him pegged to platoon at DH with Miggy since the end of last season. Sadly, he just hasn't hit well enough in spring training so far for me to give him a spot on the roster. It's been a lot of swings and misses for Carpenter so far.
With Carpenter off the roster, that would open up the DH spot for A.J. Hinch to get more bats in the lineup, but also to get players off their feet. I could easily see guys like Austin Meadows and Eric Haase getting time at DH this year.
It could also allow the Tigers to carry an extra arm, carry an another infiedler, or the aforementioned third catcher. Not having two DHs give the Tigers a bit of flexibility.