Tigers fans will hate which player has Miguel Cabrera’s locker for 2024

Detroit Tigers v Seattle Mariners
Detroit Tigers v Seattle Mariners / Rob Leiter/GettyImages

Detroit Tigers fans are indulging in some deserved optimism this offseason, for what feels like the first time in years. A lot has already been said about the promise of the young core and the veteran additions in the outfield and on the mound, who will be able to be mentors as well as on-field assets. The Tigers are gearing up to spring training with an eye toward gunning for the top of the AL Central during the season.

However, we do tend to forget (intentionally, no doubt) about Javier Báez. Báez should already be what Mark Canha was brought in to be for the Tigers; a leader on the field and in the clubhouse as the team's richest player, one of their oldest, and a World Series winner with the Cubs. Instead, we sort of pretend he doesn't exist, and we talk about the potential for the team's success without talking about the black hole that Báez represents in the lineup while management makes excuses for him.

He got to spring training early and has reportedly been working out all offseason in Puerto Rico, so it's possible that we'll see some improvements in 2024, but he has a very long way to go to work himself back into the good graces of fans. Chris McCosky of The Detroit News dropped a tidbit on Wednesday that probably won't work in his favor in that department: Báez has moved into Miguel Cabrera's old spring training locker in Lakeland (subscription required).

Javier Báez has taken Miguel Cabrera's old locker at Detroit Tigers' clubhouse in Lakeland

Baseball is a sport that filled with superstition, tradition, and hierarchy, all of which contribute to a bad taste that little piece of Báez news has probably left in your mouth. Báez should be all of the things that Miggy was to the team. He was signed to be the Guy as Cabrera got older and his playing time become more scarce, and he's become a complete non-issue for opposing pitchers instead and a laughingstock throughout the league. Naysayers could argue that a locker is just a locker, but it's a symbol of Miggy's presence in the clubhouse, which has now been taken over by one of the worst hitters on the team who hasn't been anything close to a leader (to outsiders' eyes).

It could've been Spencer Torkelson, Cabrera's successor at first base who lent him his glove during Miggy's last game so he could play first one last time. Torkelson only missed three games in 2023 and is a centerpiece of the Tigers' lineup. Even Canha, a brand new Tiger, moving into the locker would've been easier to accept.

All that's left to say about Báez is that everyone is still waiting for him to be good, but expectation is basically absent at this point.