| The Detroit News
Detroit — It may not be the name fans were hoping for, but with the signing of 31-year-old, switch-hitting outfielder Robbie Grossman, the Tigers got the kind of proficient bat they’ve lacked in recent years.
The Tigers and the former Oakland Athletic Grossman reached an agreement Tuesday on a two-year, $10 million contract, sources confirmed to The Detroit News. The Tigers have yet to announce the signing, presumably waiting for the results of medical examinations.
The stat line might not wow you — .252/.350/.380 with a 101 OPS-plus over eight big-league seasons – but look closer. His career .350 on-base average is impressive enough, certainly. The only Tigers who came close to that on-base proficiency last season were Willi Castro and Jeimer Candelario.
But over his last two years in Oakland he began changing his approach at the plate. He began to pull the ball more, which helped him raise his slugging percentage 134 points last season, up to .482. In just 192 plate appearances, he hit eight home runs, knocked in 23 runs, scored 23 runs and had a career-best 130 OPS-plus.
He was 5 for 24 with two doubles in the postseason last year.
The Tigers the last three seasons have been at or near the bottom of the American League in fewest walks and most strikeouts. Grossman is the antithesis of that. Over his career, he’s posted a 20.9 percent strikeout rate and a 12.6% walk rate.
Defensively, he has made marked improvement. With the Twins in 2016, he posted a minus-20 defensive runs saved. But the last two years with the A’s, he was a plus-1, playing mostly in left field. That’s likely where he will see most of his time with the Tigers, too.
The Tigers haven’t signed a player to a multi-year deal since the winter of 2016 when they signed Jordan Zimmermann, Justin Upton, Mike Pelfrey and Mark Lowe. According to The Athletic, which was first to report the deal, Grossman can also earn up to $500,000 in each year in incentives.
Grossman broke into the big leagues with the Astros and played for new Tigers manager AJ Hinch in 2015.
The Tigers have made so secret of their desire to add some offensive punch to their outfield this offseason. Presumably, Grossman will go to spring training as the starting left fielder, with JaCoby Jones in center and Victor Reyes in right.
And it’s possible the Tigers aren’t done shopping for outfield help.
The signing of Grossman further puts Christin Stewart’s future with the Tigers in peril, especially since utility players Harold Castro and Niko Goodrum can be used as extra outfielders and general manager Al Avila and Hinch have talked about taking a long look at prospect Daz Cameron.
Additionally, the Tigers used the third pick in the Rule 5 draft to select outfielder Akil Baddoo.
Grossman is the second free agent the Tigers have signed to a major-league contract this offseason. Last month they signed starting pitcher Jose Urena for one year at $3.25 million.