The Tigers had a quiet offseason in Scott Harris’ first winter as president of baseball operations. The brand new entrance workplace head appears content material to take a season to judge the group earlier than reevaluating the place to take a position to return to playoff competitiveness in 2024 and past.
All through the lineup, the membership has gamers making an attempt to carve out long-term roles. MLBTR regarded by way of varied outfield potentialities a pair months in the past. The infield may be a bit extra settled, with the likes of Spencer Torkelson, Jonathan Schoop and Javier Báez seemingly in place for normal enjoying time. There’s a good bit of uncertainty about how supervisor A.J. Hinch will divide reps behind the dish, as Detroit allowed final yr’s major backstop Tucker Barnhart to depart in free company after a down season.
Turning to the gamers who stay in Detroit:
Jake Rogers, 27, one minor league possibility remaining
Rogers’ protection has caught the eye of evaluators for years. Prospect writers credited the Tulane product as a plus or higher defender, praising his athleticism, receiving, arm power and acumen for dealing with a pitching workers. These robust defensive evaluations have been paired with longstanding questions on how a lot he’ll contribute on the plate. That has manifested on the MLB degree, because the righty-swinging Rogers has solely a .182/.264/.378 line with ten house runs however an enormous 38% strikeout price in 73 huge league video games.
These had been cut up between 2019-21, as Rogers misplaced all of final yr rehabbing from Tommy John surgical procedure. He’s wholesome once more now and has gotten into 11 Spring Coaching contests. He hasn’t but topped greater than 40 huge league video games in any season however his defensive status might earn him an prolonged look in some unspecified time in the future.
Eric Haase, 30, zero choices remaining
Haase was arguably Detroit’s greatest offensive participant final yr, a minimum of on a price foundation. Amongst Tigers’ hitters with 200+ plate appearances, he was the one one who produced at an above-average degree by measure of wRC+. Haase hit .254/.306/.443 by way of 351 journeys to the dish. His strikeout and stroll numbers weren’t nice however he related on 14 house runs. That got here on the heels of a 22-homer displaying over simply 98 contests the prior yr.
The previous Cleveland draftee clearly brings above-average right-handed energy upside. Even with pretty modest on-base numbers, he’s a powerful offensive catcher. Haase has by no means actually established himself on the opposite facet of the ball although. Statcast has graded him as a properly below-average pitch framer and positioned him close to the underside of the league on the subject of conserving balls in entrance of him. He’s proven strong arm power however not significantly polished receiving.
Haase is athletic sufficient to take a while in left discipline. He’s logged 216 2/3 innings there over the previous two seasons and will proceed to issue into the outfield. He’s out of choices and brings some much-needed energy to the Detroit lineup, so he’ll be on the roster, although it doesn’t essentially have to come back at catcher given his defensive query marks.
Donny Sands, 26, two choices remaining
Sands, a Yankee draftee, has been within the skilled ranks for over seven years. An eighth-round pick of highschool in 2015, he’s very slowly climbed the minor league ladder. Sands didn’t advance previous the low minors till 2021. A strong displaying between the highest two minor league ranges that yr caught the eye of the Phillies, who acquired him that offseason. The appropriate-handed hitter spent virtually all of final season with Philadelphia’s Triple-A affiliate, raking at a .308/.413/.428 clip with an enormous 15.7% stroll price and strong 18.2% strikeout share over 242 plate appearances.
The Phils didn’t have a chance for Sands on the MLB degree. J.T. Realmuto is entrenched because the starter, whereas Garrett Stubbs and Rafael Marchán make for high quality depth choices. Sands solely appeared in three huge league contests — his first MLB motion — as a September call-up. This winter, the Phils packaged him with Nick Maton and Matt Vierling within the Gregory Soto deal.
Sands hasn’t gotten a have a look at huge league pitching. He’s 26 and has by no means been a high-profile prospect. Nonetheless, there’s nothing left for him to show towards minor league arms. The Tigers can hold him within the minors by way of 2024 however they may be greatest served seeing what they’ve ahead of later. Detroit has a pair of fascinating catching prospects — Dillon Dingler and Josh Crouch — who’ve reached Double-A and will play their approach onto the MLB radar by ’24. It’d behoove them to know the place Sands matches in that hierarchy earlier than these youthful gamers are in consideration for roster spots.
Andrew Knapp, 31, not on 40-man roster
Knapp signed a minor league take care of a Spring Coaching invite over the offseason. He’s a identified amount for Harris, who was a part of the Giants’ entrance workplace when the switch-hitter performed for San Francisco final season. Knapp, who had performed solely for the Phillies earlier than a nomadic 2022 marketing campaign, was additionally saved off the sphere by Realmuto at Residents Financial institution Park. He’s by no means actually produced when given intermittent huge league alternatives, hitting .209/.310/.313 over 325 video games. He’s essentially the most skilled catcher in camp however not presently on the 40-man roster.
Mario Feliciano/Michael Papierski
Feliciano and Papierski every logged temporary MLB motion in 2022. The previous appeared in two video games for the Brewers, whereas the latter bought into 39 contests between the Giants and Reds. Detroit snagged each off waivers this offseason however didn’t hold both participant on the roster. The Tigers non-tendered Papierski earlier than re-signing him to a minor league deal; Feliciano was run by way of waivers inside two weeks of being claimed. Neither hit particularly properly in Triple-A final yr. They’ll be within the group as higher degree insurance coverage however appear behind the group of Rogers, Haase, Sands and maybe Knapp on the depth chart.