Tigers option C Jake Rogers, IF Isaac Paredes to Triple-A

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Thursday afternoon, the Detroit Tigers announced that catcher Jake Rogers and infielder Isaac Paredes had been optioned to Triple-A Toledo to begin the 2021 season. Both Rogers and Paredes were embroiled in camp battles for backup positions on the Tigers’ major-league roster, but will evidently have to wait for their turn in Comerica Park.

Paredes is the more well-regarded player of the two, making his MLB debut last season at only 21 years old. Major league pitching wasn’t kind to him, and he hit only .220/.278/.290 in 21 games. The surface numbers don’t tell the whole story, though. As a youngster at the highest level of competition, he demonstrated his impeccable eye for the strike zone and distinct tools on both sides of the ball.

Unfortunately for Paredes, he’s caught in the crossfire of a strange infield logjam. Although very little is locked in for the Tigers, they have to find places for a huge cast of characters, including Jeimer Candelario, Niko Goodrum, Willi Castro, Renato Nuñez, Harold Castro, and Paredes. Being that the clearest path to a roster spot for Paredes was to move Candelario to first base, this move was likely motivated by the desire to keep Nuñez in the organization as the first baseman.

That being said, there’s still a good chance that Paredes plays in Detroit at some point the 2021 season. He was being given a real chance to claim the jab as a backup infielder, with the team trying him out at second base to expand his skillset. Any combination of poor performance by players on the eventual Opening Day roster, lights out work by Paredes in Toledo, or injury will land him back on the Tigers.

As for veteran infielder Greg Garcia, manager A.J. Hinch said on Thursday that the club has also informed Garcia that he won’t make the final Opening Day roster. Garcia has an upcoming opt-out that allows him to pursue options elsewhere. Still, demand for him won’t be high and it’s possible Garcia ends up in Toledo to begin the year.

The news that Jake Rogers will not be with the team is a little more concerning. His standing within the organization is about as clear as mud, especially after he was not called upon to take over for the underperforming Grayson Greiner as the backup last season. True, his first go-around against MLB pitching was ugly. On the other hand, that’s usually been the case in his first stint at any level and the sample size was too small to mean much anyway. Rogers spent much of the last year working on his swing and approach with private hitting instructor Doug Latta, but was unable to show any progress at the plate this spring. The fact that a second coaching staff prefers Greiner to Rogers at this point doesn’t bode very well for the latter’s future.

It’s still a hard pill to swallow that the most polished player included in the Justin Verlander trade can’t find a way to get major league at-bats. It’s not time to abandon ship yet — his elite defensive prowess will demand at least a little attention for a long time — but he’s knocking on the door of 26 years old and needs to prove himself soon.

The Tigers have apparently prioritized Greiner as the backup, with only the distant possibility of Dustin Garneau being added to 40-man roster as the only thing standing between him and another season in the majors. However, there’s little track record on his part to believe that he’ll hang onto that job by more than a fingernail. Any indication of improvement to Rogers’ game this season is still likely to lead to a change, especially as he approaches the point of aging out of prospect status.

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