Are Jonathan Schoop and Detroit Tigers headed for an extension? He discusses his future

Detroit Free Press

Jonathan Schoop wants to be with the Detroit Tigers moving forward in his career.

“The future is bright here, man,” Schoop said Thursday. “The future is really bright.”

Schoop, 29, has provided the surging Tigers (47-51) — who are riding a seven-game winning streak since the All-Star break — with steady veteran leadership, defensive versatility and power at the plate. He’ll likely draw interest at the trade deadline.

He signed a one-year, $4.5 million contract this offseason, bringing him back for a second season in Detroit. Schoop is hitting .287 with 17 home runs and 59 RBIs in 94 games, on pace for his best results since his 2017 All-Star season with the Baltimore Orioles.

Schoop is making a strong case to get paid, too, as his contract expires again in November. Does he want an extension from the Tigers to see the rebuild through and try for the playoffs?

“Of course you want to be part of it,” Schoop said. “You want to be a part of it because you see how it is growing. … But I can’t control those things. I cannot keep thinking about it. I have to give it my all and leave it to them, whatever they think, whatever they have planned. I just got to go out there, give my 100% and see what happens.”

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When asked Tuesday if the Tigers will offer Schoop a contract extension, general manager Al Avila said, “Well, I wouldn’t get into any of that with you guys at this point, to tell you the truth. That’s a good question.”

Avila did say, however, that Schoop has “carried the club and allowed the young guys to develop,” suggesting the Tigers might not trade the nine-year veteran at the July 30 trade deadline, placing extra importance on a growing winning culture.

But if Schoop has that much impact, shouldn’t the Tigers consider locking him into a long-term deal?

Schoop recently switched agents, hiring Scott Boras, who is known for his tough negotiating stances and big contracts — and his history with the Tigers. Boras represented Magglio Ordonez and Prince Fielder when they signed in Detroit, served as the “adviser” to high school pitchers Rick Porcello and Jacob Turner when they signed record deals for draft picks and was the agent for Max Scherzer when he left the Tigers for the Washington Nationals.

“Me and my family think it’s best for us in the future,” Schoop said. “He’s one of the best in the business. If you have the chance to go there, why not? My family sat down, and they thought it was the best option for me. I’m a big family guy, so that’s why I did it.”

The Tigers are 38-27 since May 8. Their win Thursday afternoon left them three games back from Cleveland for second place in the American League Central and 12 games behind the first-place Chicago White Sox.

They are nine games out of a spot in the wild card.

“We can play with anybody,” Schoop said. “The league knows you cannot come to the Tigers and think you’re going to have a free pass. You have to come to play because we show up to play every day. We’re going to give it our all, and we’re going to play to win.

“If you think you’re going to get a free pass, they got it wrong. They think wrong. We have a chip on our shoulder.”

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Even if making the postseason is improbable this season, the Tigers don’t appear far from contending again. Though that will likely require owner Christopher Ilitch to spend more in free agency, and further development from youngsters both in the majors and minors.

“Imagine next year,” Schoop said.

His desire to stay in Detroit is personal.

Schoop remembers being one of the young kids, just trying to stick in the big leagues. He debuted in the majors at 21 in 2013 with the Orioles, playing alongside respected veterans Adam Jones, J.J. Hardy, Matt Wieters and Nelson Cruz — as well as fellow youngster Manny Machado — during the early stages of his career

These days, Schoop is the veteran.

“It’s fun to see young guys and see how they grow,” Schoop said. “A lot of guys, like Nelson Cruz, saw me grow. They see me now and say, ‘Man, it was fun when I saw you when you were 21.’ I want to be part of that, too, so I can see some guys grow up and then see them four years from now.”

Schoop later added: “It’s fun to be what I am now because of those guys. They taught me well so I can teach the young guys well. It’s been a new challenge, but I embrace it and enjoy it.”

Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzoldRead more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter

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