With reports swirling around that the MLB season will happen one way or another, baseball and sports fans alike are jumping for joy that sports will happen in 2020. However, Tiger’s fans may not have that excitement for very long, as our eyes lie on the future instead of the now. Despite this, some free agency moves and potential call-ups indicate that the upcoming season may not be all doom and gloom. So, let’s take a look at how the Tigers will evolve, change and perform in 2020.
More Win-Now Players?
The past 3 seasons, the Tigers have finished dead last twice and in the bottom five once. As such, fans are going into this season with very low expectations for the team. That is not good for business and General Manager Al Avila knows that. With all the flack he has been taking in recent memory, he finally had a good offseason despite the Tigers being as far removed from playoff contention as possible. So, let’s break down some of the moves and how this changes the 2020 outlook.
Schoop is coming over from AL Central rival Minnesota Twins. He has recorded 5 consecutive 100+ hit seasons, including 182 hits in 2017. He’s coming off of a season where he batted for .256 in 121 games. In those games, he recorded 59 RBI’s and 23 HR’s. Still young at only 27 years old, Schoop brings instant offense at a consistent clip. He won’t be a show stopper, but the experience he has will be invaluable on a young Tigers roster.
As mentioned prior, he’s only 27 years old. With the youth movement being so prevalent in Detroit, Schoop may come on as a leader rather than a temporary option. If the hits keep coming in 2020, Schoop is going to help the Tigers win more games.
Schoop signed a 1-yr/$6.1 Million contract with the Detroit Tigers.
Another export from Minnesota, Cron figures to be an important veteran and scorer on the Tigers. With Cabrera struggling with injuries in his old age, it’ll be very tough for him to play offense and defense. He’ll likely finish his career as a Designated Hitter, which leaves a hole at First Base.
Enter C.J. Cron.
Cron is 30 years old and has been a consistent offensive performer the past couple seasons. He recorded 70+ RBI’s the past two seasons plus a 30 HR season in 2018. He’s only dipped below a batting average of .250 once in his career (.248 in 2017), making a name as one of the most consistent players in the league. Like Schoop, he won’t be in the headlines, but these two will bring an offensive presence the Tigers have desperately needed.
Romine was a longtime Yankees backup catcher, but Tigers fans may remember him after Miguel Cabrera delivered a big right hand to him back in 2017. The Tigers figure to move forward with Jake Rogers as their starting Catcher, but Romine will bring reliability when they give Rogers the day off. He’s coming off a season where he batted .281 and recorded 35 RBI’s and 8 HR’s. He signed a 1-year/$4.1 Million deal with Detroit.
The Tigers traded away some cash to acquire Minor League player Eric Haase from another divisional rival in the Cleveland Indians. Haase has slowly been clawing his way up the ladder in the Minor League, finally reaching the Majors for the first time in 2018 after 7 years in the minors. He will likely return to the minors in 2020, but if Romine or Rogers get hurt, he could see some action.
Longtime White Sox starter Ivan Nova signed with the Tigers as a back end starter for the beginning of the season. With Matt Manning and Casey Mize both looking to become starters by years end, Nova will likely last a short time in Detroit, but will contribute to the win-now attitude Avila is trying to create. He signed a 1-year/$1.5 Million deal with Detroit.
Overall, the Tigers have added tons of veteran help to complement the rising stars that will play a pivotal role in the franchise’s success going forward.
With the First Overall Pick…
For the second time in three years, the Tigers will be selecting first overall in the MLB Amateur Draft. Since 2016, the Tigers have been loading up with young talent in their pitching staff. With players like Matt Manning (2016, 9th overall), Alex Faedo (2017, 18th overall) and their number one prospect Case Mize (2018, 1st overall). Last year, they began to turn their attention back to batters, selecting Outfielder Riley Greene out of high school 5th overall.
Despite Georgia’s RHP Emerson Hancock being the top product of this class, the Tigers aren’t looking for anymore pitching help. It appears they are poised to go one of two ways:
It appears that unless a Curveball is thrown, the Tigers are all but certain to select the Commodores’ Shortstop first overall. Martin is the complete package as a five-tool hitter. He brings good speed with a powerful bat. He has the ability to consistently hit 20-25+ HR’s a season. However, his biggest weapon is the ability to get the ball in play. He is consistently hitting the ball into all parts of the field and had a strikeout rate of 6.6% in his collegiate career. Plus, he is a versatile defender and figures to be the best pure-hitter from this draft class.
Torkelson instinctively finds himself on base one way or another. He was the third player in Pac-12 history to record 20+ HR’s in back-to-back seasons. He recorded a very impressive .351/.446/.707 line in his sophomore season. He drove in 66 runs and smacked 23 home runs. He is a powerful hitter who can naturally draw walks at a good rate (18.8% in college). He is a solid defender too, but he is limited to first base at the next level. Torkelson could be a surprise pick if the Tigers want to find Miguel Cabrera’s successor, but it’s the unlikely pick as of now.
Prediction: The Tiger’s will select Vanderbilt SS Austin Martin first overall.
Projected Starting Roster
Catchers: Jake Rogers, Austin Romine
First Basemen: C.J. Cron, Miguel Cabrera (DH)
Second Basemen: Johnathan Schoop
Third Basemen: Jeimer Candelario
Shortstop: Niko Goodrum
Utility: Harold Castro, Jordy Mercer
Outfield: JaCoby Jones, Cameron Maybin, Christin Stewart, Travis Demeritte, Victor Reyes
Starting Pitchers: Matt Boyd, Jordan Zimmerman, Spencer Turnbull, Ivan Nova, Daniel Norris
Relief Pitchers: Zack Godley, Buck Farmer, Gregory Soto, Rony Garcia (Rule 5 pick), Bryan Garcia
Closing Pitcher: Joe Jimenez
C: Jake Rogers, Austin Romine, Eric Haase, Grayson Greiner
1B: C.J. Cron, Miguel Cabrera
2B: Johnathan Schoop, Harold Castro
3B: Jeimer Candelario, Dawel Lugo,
SS: Niko Goodrum, Jordey Mercer, Willi Castro, Issac Paredes
OF: Christin Stewart, Jacoby Jones, Cameron Maybin, Victor Reyes, Travis Demeritte, Jorge Bonifacio, Daz Cameron, Derek Hill
Pitchers: Matt Boyd, Jordan Zimmerman, Spencer Turnbull, Ivan Nova, Daniel Norris, Zack Godley, Joe Jimenez, Buck Farmer, Jose Cisnero, Bryan Garcia, Gregory Soto, Tyler Alexander, Rony Garcia, Alex Wilson, Matt Hall, David McKay, Kyle Funkhouser, Beau Burrows
Making the Opening 40-Man Roster:
C Jake Rogers
SS Issac Paredes
SS Willi Castro
OF Daz Cameron
RHP Beau Burrows
RHP Bryan Garcia
RHP Rony Garcia
RHP Kyle Funkhouser
OF Derek Hill
RHP Casey Mize
RHP Matt Manning
RHP Anthony Castro
RHP Wladmir Pinto
Unlikely, but Possible:
LHP Tarik Skubal
LHP Joey Wentz
RHP Alex Faedo
2B Kody Clemens
RHP Elvin Rodriguez
Total Stretches, Very Unlikely:
RHP Zack Hess
OF Riley Greene
OF Parker Meadows
RHP Franklin Perez
OF Bryant Packard
RHP Paul Richan
Overall, the Tigers figure to finally start the trend upwards in 2020. While they are still a couple, or even a few years away from contention, the instant production from Schoop and Cron along with solid veteran depth means that the Tigers are not necessarily playing to lose anymore.
Plus, their top prospects are on their way to the major leagues soon, by September at the very latest. Not only that but they can add their next top prospect with the top selection in this years draft. The Tigers farm will both fill up and empty top tier talent over the next few seasons. 2020 is very much the popping of the cork for Tigers fans as the rain clouds have parted and the team is back on the right track.
Prediction: The Tigers’ free agent additions will help the team score more than they have in years past. While this may help only a bit, they’ll likely see a huge push post All-Star break when their prospects come flying in. The Tigers will finish 65-97, finally finishing above the 100 loss mark. They’ll see top prospects Casey Mize and Matt Manning make the starting rotation, as well as top hitters like Issac Paredes and Daz Cameron entering the starting lineup.
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