The Detroit Tigers finally have their third baseman

Chicago Cubs v Los Angeles Angels
Chicago Cubs v Los Angeles Angels / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages

We've talked all offseason about how the Detroit Tigers needed to find a third baseman by any means necessary. They couldn't just role with Matt Vierling, Andy Ibanez, and Zach McKinstry. They needed someone with a pulse offensively.

Well, it took them well into spring training, but they finally got a third baseman. ESPN's Jeff Passan has reported that the Tigers have signed Gio Urshela to a one-year. $1.5 million contract. They did it. They finally found someone to play the hot corner.

Now, I know some Tigers fans will be disappointed that this isn't a splash signing. But hear me out on this: this is a a solid signing. Urshela is 32, but he didn't have his breakout season until 2019 with the Yankees. Some of that was due to the juiced ball that season, but he's had a couple solid seasons since then. In 2022 with the Twins, he hit .285 with 13 homers, a 119 wRC+ and a 2.4 fWAR. That's some pretty good production at the hot corner.

Now, last season wasn't so hot for him. He did hit .299, but the power dipped considerably. He was also injured quite a bit last season, being limited to just 62 games for the Angels last year. But assuming he's healthy, this has the potential to be an absolute bargain for Detroit.

It was hard for Urshela to gain any traction at the plate last year because of the injuries. Again, if he's healthy, he should bounce back.

Urshela is a high-contact guy. He doesn't walk a whole lot, but he doesn't strike out much either. He also hits lefties very well, as Passan alluded to in his report. He hit .373 against lefties last season and has hit .290 against them in his career.

Defensivley, he's been a bit up and down. The metrics have hated him throughout his career with the exception of the shortened 2020 season. In 2022, he had -5 outs above average (OAA) at third base. However, he had 4 defensive runs saved (DRS) that season. Last year, those numbers were 0 and 6, respectively. He may not have very good range, but he'll make some nice plays over there.

So what does this mean for the Tigers roster? Well, I would imagine that Urshela is this team's Opening Day third baseman. It wouldn't make sense for them to sign him to a major league deal and then not give him that chance. He'll also get a lot of at-bats against southpaws, which we alluded to earlier.

This means Matt Vierling likely takes more of a backseat utility role, which is exactly what his role should be. The same goes for Ibanez and McKinstry. Those three in small doses? Fine. But too much of any of them is not good for this team.

This also makes Justyn-Henry Malloy's path to the Opening Day roster that much tougher. His chances were already pretty low to begin with. But now, he's almost certainly going to start the year in Toledo.

It's so nice to see the Tigers FINALLY sign someone to play third base. We've waited two offseasons for them to properly replace Jeimer Candelario. Urshela may not be sexy, but he should be good enough to get the job done.

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