| The Detroit News
Detroit — The Tigers got their second baseman — and it’s their old second baseman.
Jonathan Schoop is returning to the Tigers on a one-year contract, the team announced Friday night. The deal is worth $4.5 million, according to a source familiar with the ballclub’s decisions. The move was first reported by The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.
Schoop, 29, will play for the same team for a second consecutive year for the first time since he was with his original team, the Baltimore Orioles. He was with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2018 and Minnesota Twins in 2019, before joining the Tigers in 2020 on a $6.1-million deal that was reduced by the shortened season.
“Jonathan made a tremendous impression on us last year, and we’re looking forward to having him back,” Tigers general manager Al Avila said in a statement. “Not only were we impressed by the on-field results, but also his leadership and relentless desire to be in the lineup day-in and day-out.
“It’s hard for a one-year free agent to have a real positive impact on a clubhouse’s culture, but he certainly achieved that last season, and we’re looking forward to that continuing.”
Along with C.J. Cron, Schoop was a pleasant addition on a bargain deal, with eight home runs and 23 RBIs in 44 games. Schoop’s defense was considered better than average for the positions, according to multiple advanced metrics.
Schoop took a pitch off the wrist in mid-September and was shut down the rest of the season.
Schoop, a right-handed hitter, played his first five-plus seasons in the big leagues with the Orioles, with highs of 32 home runs, 105 RBIs and an OPS of .841, all in 2017. New Tigers hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh was Schoop’s hitting coach in Baltimore in 2017, when he made the American League All-Star team. School finished 12th in the AL MVP voting that season.
At second base, he is expected to work side by side with shortstops Willi Castro and Niko Goodrum.
“I’m thankful for the opportunity to rejoin the Tigers for the 2021 season,” Schoop said in a statement, adding the Tigers new coaching staff, led by manager AJ Hinch, made a big impact on him deciding to return to Detroit. “We have a really good group here — we started to build something special last year and are going to take it to the next level in 2021.”
To make room on the 40-man roster, outfielder Travis Demeritte was designated for assignment.
This marks the Tigers’ fourth move of the offseason that figures to directly affect the big-league roster, after signing outfielder Robbie Grossman (two years, $10 million), right-hander Jose Urena (one year, $3.5 million), and catcher Wilson Ramos (one year, $2 million).
Avila, at Chris Ilitch’s directive, has continued to avoid spending big on the free-agent market, even as the long rebuild is nearing what many in the front office consider to be the back end.
The Tigers payroll is expected to be around $80 million for 2021, with only two contracts — Miguel Cabrera and Grossman — extended beyond this season.
Tigers pitchers and catchers are scheduled to hold their first workout in Lakeland, Florida, on Feb. 17, even as there continues to be debate between the league and the players association on if the season will be starting on time or pushed back a month.