Evan Petzold | Detroit Free Press
The source requested anonymity because the team has not yet announced the move.
Mazara, 25, played 42 games for the Chicago White Sox in 2020. A left-handed hitter, he logged a .228 batting average with one home run and 15 RBIs. In 2019 with the Texas Rangers, he hit .268 with 19 homers and 66 RBIs.
He was non-tendered by the White Sox in December, a year after the White Sox acquired him from the Rangers for 24-year-old minor-league outfielder Steele Walker.
Mazara is the fifth significant signing by the Tigers this winter, following right-handed pitcher Jose Urena (one year, $3.25 million), outfielder Robbie Grossman (two years, $10 million), catcher Wilson Ramos (one year, $2 million) and second baseman Jonathan Schoop (one year, $4.5 million).
Across five big-league seasons, Mazara has played for the Rangers (2016-19) and White Sox (2020). In 579 career games, he owns a .258 batting average, 80 homers and 323 RBIs. He has defensive experience in right field (460 games) and left field (87 games).
Before adding Mazara, manager AJ Hinch said he thought the starting outfield was locked in, with Grossman in left field, JaCoby Jones in center field and Victor Reyes in right field.
“That’s something that will make everybody sit up straight because we have a lot of numbers in that outfield,” Hinch said Jan. 26 about picking up an outfielder from the free-agent market. “Maybe an opportunity is out there. We’re not afraid to upgrade, and we’ll do it very methodically.”
Sixteen days later, the Tigers found an upgrade.
While Mazara will compete with Reyes for the starting gig in right field, he isn’t a guarantee to beat him out. It should produce a healthy position battle in spring training, beginning with the team’s first full-squad workout Feb. 22 in Lakeland, Florida.
Regardless of who starts on Opening Day, the Mazara signing adds another outfielder to the mix, meaning the competition for the fourth outfielder job increases. Others vying for a roster spot include Daz Cameron, Christin Stewart, Derek Hill and Akil Baddoo.
The most likely scenario: Grossman in right, Jones in center and Mazara/Reyes in right, with the loser of the starting battle as the fourth outfielder coming off the bench. Last year, Reyes hit .277 with four homers and 14 RBIs in 57 games.
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This situation almost guarantees Cameron, ranked by MLB Pipeline as the team’s No. 7 prospect, will start the season in Triple-A Toledo. Cameron, 24, went 11-for-57 (.193) across 17 games in his debut season in 2020.
Expect Stewart or Hill — assuming the Tigers cut an outfielder — to be designated for assignment to make room for Mazara on the 40-man roster. For the Tigers to keep Baddoo, a Rule 5 draft pick, he has to stay on the active roster for the entire season or be offered back to the Minnesota Twins.
If the organization already knows it won’t keep Baddoo around for the full 162-game season but wants to keep Stewart and Hill, the 22-year-old could be removed from the 40-man and returned to the Twins. He hasn’t played above High-A and underwent Tommy John surgery in May 2019.