Chris McCosky | The Detroit News
Lakeland, Fla. – The Tigers have added another left-handed bat, signing veteran corner outfielder Nomar Mazara for one year at $1.75 million, a deal confirmed by The News Thursday night.
It’s an intriguing get for the Tigers. He’s coming off the worst season of his career, hitting .228 with one home run and 15 RBIs in 42 games with the White Sox. But in the four seasons before that, with Texas, he hit 20, 20, 20 and 19 home runs and averaged 77 RBIs.
He’s a high strikeout, low-walk hitter, but he’s just entering his age-26 season – hardly a finished product.
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The Tigers, who have been at or near the bottom of the American League in just about every offensive category the last two seasons, especially against right-handed pitching, can certainly use another productive left-handed hitter. Over his career, Mazara has slashed .267/.333/.448 with a .781 OPS against right-handers.
He is a subpar outfielder (minus-22 in defensive runs saved), however, and in that way profiles similar to Christin Stewart – though Stewart has yet to hit consistently at the big-league level. Stewart was already facing long odds to make the roster this spring – and this signing perhaps makes them longer.
Mazara has played mostly right field in Texas and Chicago, but that might be a bad fit at spacious Comerica Park. It is conceivable the Tigers envision some type of platoon with Mazara and Victor Reyes.
The signing of Mazara could impact the viability of keeping Rule 5 draftee Akil Baddoo – another left-handed hitting outfielder, who has yet to play above High-A. The signing of Mazara would also indicate the Tigers’ preference to keep prospect Daz Cameron at Triple-A Toledo a little longer.
As it stands now, the Tigers outfield features Robbie Grossman (who may now switch to right field), JaCoby Jones (center), Reyes (who can play all three outfield positions) and Mazara. Also on the 40-man roster are Stewart, Baddoo, Cameron and Derek Hill.
Utility player Harold Castro, another left-handed bat, has also played all three outfield positions, but with minor league options left, he also could end up starting at Toledo.
No doubt the working motto for this competition is: those who hit will stay. The Tigers are expected to announce the corresponding roster move for Mazara on Friday.