Tigers
Illitch Companies

The Tigers went 23-35 in 2020, finishing last in the American League Central for the third time in four years. But their rebuilding effort picked up pace with the arrival of top prospects Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, Isaac Paredes and Daz Cameron. Also the continued development of Willi Castro and the breakout of cleanup hitter Jeimer Candelario.

Following the retirement of Ron Gardenhire, the Tigers have tapped AJ Hinch as their next manager. This is a message that they are serious about moving forward toward contention making 2021 critical in their progress.

“Obviously, we’ve got a lot of work to do,” Hinch said at his introductory press conference. “We got a lot of things to do between now and when a team is put on the field and in Spring Training and into April, but the good times are coming. And we’ve got to go put in the work to make sure that happens because this fan base, this ownership group, this front office and these players, they deserve it.”

Hitting

In 2020, the Tigers benefited from the additions of Jonathan Schoop at second base and CJ Cron at first base. These two veteran run producers who provided a much-needed combination of power and experience to what was generally a younger, free-swinging lineup. But both experienced season-ending injuries and showed that the youth movement isn’t quite there yet.

Victor Martinez, in 2014, was the last time the Tigers signed an everyday player in free agency. But look for them to try to re-sign Schoop, who enjoyed his best offensive season since 2017. Cron is harder to address due to recovery from knee surgery that is ahead.

Detroit could also use another run producer in the outfield corners, where Cameron Maybin struggled before being traded to the Cubs.

Catcher

Ever since James McCann departed two years ago the Tigers have had a hard time replacing him. Last season Austin Romine was the veteran stability behind the plate, but he faded down the stretch offensively to a .238 average, .582 OPS, and a 47-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Top catching prospect Jake Rogers (the Tigers’ No. 12 overall prospect per MLB Pipeline) spent the entire season at the alternate site allowing for development in 2020. Could the tigers reunite with James McCann? He is one of the top catching free agents this offseason.

Pitching Depth

With top prospects and returning starters, the Tigers have enough to fill their rotation internally. Al Avila, general manager, has always considered the need of depth important to prepare for injuries. The jump from this year’s 60-game season back to a standard schedule will mean a major innings jump unless Detroit has even more options to share the load.

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