How Detroit Tigers infielder Jonathan Schoop learned not to worry at trade deadline

Detroit Free Press

Detroit Tigers infielder Jonathan Schoop has been through this before.

He signed with the Baltimore Orioles as an amateur free agent in 2008, and 10 years later, the Orioles shipped the talented homegrown second baseman to the Milwaukee Brewers for Jonathan Villar, Luis Ortiz and Jean Carmona.

The trade went down July 31, 2018.

“They caught me off balance a little bit,” Schoop said Thursday. “I was surprised, especially when a team you’ve been with for a long time trades you. It was a struggle because your mind was all over, oh, what’s going to happen, this and that.

“It helped me with where I’m at right now and (understanding) things I can control.”

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The 29-year-old doesn’t know what’s going to happen ahead of Friday’s 4 p.m. trade deadline. He isn’t sure if the Tigers will offer him a contract extension — he has expressed interest in sticking around — or if he will finish the season with a different team.

There are plenty of uncertainties.

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But Schoop has a new approach to the trade deadline, a much different mindset compared to 2018. He now has a better understanding of the controllable situations in his life, and what the Tigers decide to do isn’t something he can impact at this point.

“I’ve matured a lot,” Schoop said. “I’m better at it. If something happens, I think I’m ready for it. I’m prepared for it because I passed through that already (in 2018). But I can’t control that. I’m not even worried about that. Just play the game and try to win.”

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Since the Orioles dealt away Schoop at the 2018 deadline, the nine-year MLB veteran has managed to avoid trades. He signed as a free agent with the Minnesota Twins for 2019 before joining the Tigers for 2020-2021.

He is currently on a one-year, $4.5 million contract.

Schoop entered Thursday’s game hitting .284 with 17 home runs, 60 RBIs, 24 walks and 86 strikeouts in 99 games. (He added a single and an RBI in the first inning Thursday against the O’s.) He owns a career .261 batting average and has played for the Orioles (2013-18), Brewers (2018), Twins (2019) and Tigers (2020-21).

“I’m having fun here,” Schoop said. “I’ve been here two years already. You get to know the guys like family. I think we have good things going on and a good group of guys. We just want to move that forward and try to win as many games as possible.

“I’m feeling really good here and having fun.”

Why Detroit Tigers manager AJ Hinch appreciates Jonathan Schoop’s response about future ]

Schoop still doesn’t enjoy discussing the 2018 trade — going from the Orioles to the Brewers — for the same reasons he might not want Tigers general manager Al Avila to trade him away in 2021: He is comfortable.

But Avila’s decision is out of his control.

“It’s difficult,” Schoop said. “I don’t want to even talk about that or remember that. Going to a different organization, you know they want you, that’s why they traded for you. You got pressure. You got to do good for them. Baseball is easier, but the life: You got to move out, find a place to stay and get to know your teammates.

“There are a lot of things that aren’t as easy as people think.”

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

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