| Detroit Free Press
Detroit Tigers GM Al Avila on free agency: ‘We’ll see where it takes us’
Detroit Tigers general manager Al Avila stopped by The Corner Ballpark on Friday, Dec. 11, 2020, and spoke about his approach to the offseason.
Evan Petzold, Detroit Free Press
The Detroit Tigers have signed outfielder Robbie Grossman to a two-year, $10 million contract.
To make room for Grossman on the 40-man roster, outfielder Troy Stokes Jr. was designated for assignment.
“Robbie is a proven Major League hitter and will bring consistent, competitive at-bats to our lineup,” Tigers general manager Al Avila said in a released statement. “His name quickly came up when our front office began planning potential offseason additions, and all of us are looking forward to having his veteran presence both on the field and in the clubhouse.”
Grossman, 31, played 51 games for the Oakland Athletics in 2020. He hit .241 with eight home runs, 23 RBIs and eight steals. In the 2019 season, he had a .240 batting average, six homers and 38 RBIs with nine steals in 138 games.
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Grossman, a switch-hitter, is the second MLB player signed by the Tigers this winter. On Dec. 23, right-hander Jose Urena agreed to a one-year, $3.25 million deal. The Tigers also snagged lefty reliever Ian Krol and catcher Dustin Garneau on minor-league contracts.
“I’ve been fortunate to play for some great franchises during my career, and I couldn’t be happier to add the Tigers to that list,” Grossman said. “I’ve been in Detroit a number of times as a visiting player, and know how passionate the city and its fans are for Tigers baseball. I’m very excited to get to work with my coaches and teammates, and help bring winning baseball back to the Motor City.”
This is the first multi-year signing the Tigers have made since the 2015-16 offseason, when they signed Jordan Zimmermann, Mike Pelfrey, Mark Lowe and Justin Upton. Since then, the organization has opted for short-term solutions for the team’s ailing lineup.
But the Tigers are beginning to focus on the near-future. They entered the offseason with two starting pitchers and an impact bat as their top priorities. After locking down Urena to help the rotation, Avila shifted his attention to finding a corner outfielder.
Grossman doesn’t give the Tigers as much power as some of the outfielders who were non-tendered in December, namely Kyle Schwarber, Adam Duvall, Nomar Mazara and, before he signed with the Texas Rangers, David Dahl.
However, Grossman is crafty at getting on-base, boasting a career .350 on-base percentage with 345 walks compared to 574 strikeouts. For the Minnesota Twins in 2018, he finished the season with a .273 batting average in 129 games.
Grossman joins an outfield that will primarily feature JaCoby Jones, Victor Reyes, Daz Cameron and Rule 5 pick Akil Baddoo during the 2021 season. He has played 414 games in left field, 146 in right field and 39 in center field throughout his career.
To start the season, expect Grossman as the everyday left fielder, accompanied by Jones in center and Reyes or Cameron in right.
The eight-year MLB veteran is a career .252 hitter across stints with the Houston Astros (2013-15), Twins (2016-18) and A’s (2019-20). He played for new Tigers manager AJ Hinch with the Astros in 2015.
Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.