Detroit Tigers Baseball Is Coming Back!
Now that the Major League Baseball (MLB) owners and players have agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement, the 99-day MLB lockout of the players is over.
With the lockout now over, it's time to take a look at what the Detroit Tigers will look like as they head to Lakeland, Florida for spring training.
Before the lockout began in December, the Tigers signed pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez to a five-year deal worth $77 million to join their starting rotation. They also signed shortstop Javier Baez to a six-year deal worth $140 million to shore up a weak spot offensively. How good will he be defensively?? We'll see. And they brought in catcher Tucker Barnhardt in a trade with Cincinnati. He's on a one-year deal worth $7.5 million.
Some fans and observers feel the team needs to add more help before the season starts in April, stay tuned.
Of course, I'm talking about their top two positional prospects. Outfielder Riley Greene and infielder Spencer Torkelson. If they play well in the shortened spring training in Lakeland, they could both make the club and contribute immediately. And with teams now being pressured to bring up their prospects to start the season, expect them to be in Detroit on Opening Day.
Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, and the aforementioned Eduardo Rodriguez will be in the starting rotation. Spencer Turnbull would be in the rotation, but he's out for most of this season recovering from Tommy John surgery. Starters four and five will be figured out in Lakeland.
It was inconsistent last season. But Jose Cisnero, Michael Fulmer, and All-Star Gregory Soto make up the back end of the 'pen. That's not bad. But who's throwing middle relief? Tyler Alexander? Kyle Funkhouser? Others?? We'll see.
Robby Grossman will return as will last year's sensation, Rule 5 pick Akil Baddoo. Who gets the third spot?? Riley Greene? Daz Cameron? Victor Reyes? Somebody else? We'll see.
This looks pretty much set with Jeimer Candelario at 3rd, Javier Baez at shortstop, Jonathan Schoop at 2nd, and a platoon at 1st base involving Miguel Cabrera and maybe Spencer Torkelson. Oh yeah, speaking of Miggy...
The future Hall of Famer (pictured above) will dominate the early part of the season for the Tigers as he is only 13 hits away from 3,000 for his career. He got to 500 career home runs last August, and is less than 200 RBI away from 2,000 for his career. He has 2 more years guaranteed at $32 million in '22 and '23. He'll split his time at 1st base and designated hitter.
MANAGER A.J. HINCH
He enters his second year in Detroit with higher expectations to deal with. And with 12 teams in the playoffs this season (6 in the American League), fans will expect to at least contend for a Wild Card berth. Even though he is a massive upgrade over previous managers Brad Ausmus and Ron Gardenhire, will his Sabr-metrics way of managing eventually hurt his team, as it did at times last season? If he costs his team a playoff berth with a Kevin Cash-type move (remember Blake Snell in 2020?) with his starting pitcher, he'll get criticized heavily for it. Will he be able to deal with it?