The Detroit Tigers have been one of the most active teams on the free agent market this offseason. Marquee signings include Kenta Maeda, Andrew Chafin, and most recently Jack Flaherty, all of whom will be able to make an immediate impact on the team at the big league level. However, the Tigers have also signed 11 players, mostly pitchers, to minor league contracts to give them more depth options in the farm system.
A former Tiger was also just signed to a minor league deal, but not with Detroit. Niko Goodrum, who spent four seasons with the Tigers before being DFA'ed in 2021, signed with the division rival Minnesota Twins on Dec. 14, marking a return to MLB after a short stint in the KBO and a return to the team that drafted him.
Tigers lose once-promising player Niko Goodrum to division-rival Twins in free agency
After only appearing in 11 games for the Twins in 2017, Goodrum was outrighted and elected free agency, then signed a minor league deal with the Tigers. He stood out in spring training in 2018 and made it onto Detroit's Opening Day roster, before going on to play in 131 games for the Tigers that year. He batted .245/.315/.432 with 16 home runs and 53 RBI in a surprising and promising rookie campaign that won him the Detroit Tigers Rookie of the Year award.
He put up similar numbers in 112 games in 2019, but experienced a sharp decline in 2020 and 2021. His playing time lessened due to injuries and poor performance before he was outrighted again, elected free agency, and signed a minor league deal with the Astros for 2022. After 15 rough games at the major league level in Houston that resulted in a .116/.156/.163 line, the Astros released him and he was picked up by the Red Sox in December 2022. He never cracked Boston's major league roster, which led him to the KBO, which leads us to now.
The Twins might see something in Goodrum that they'll be able to rehabilitate in their farm system, but this seems like a rival signing that will be easy for the Tigers to let go. If Goodrum is able to make the comeback of the century by breaking back into the majors and causing some trouble for the Tigers as they try to win the division, it might be a different story, but for now all we can do is wish him the best of luck.