With roster cuts imminent, these Tigers could be on the bubble

Bless You Boys

Out with the old, and in with the new. It’s an annual November ritual in baseball every year. Friday, November 19 is the deadline for teams to submit their 40 man rosters including those prospects that they want to protect from the Rule 5 draft. December 1st is the deadline for teams to tender contracts to arbitration eligible players, or let them leave as free agents.

We posted the list of Rule 5 eligible players yesterday. Here is a look at the players who might be in danger of being released or non tendered to make room for others being added to the roster.

Dustin Garneau– ever since the Tigers acquired Tucker Barnhart from Cincinnati, the writing has been on the wall for Garneau, who exceeded expectations in limited action in Detroit last summer. The team is not likely to carry five catchers on the 40 man roster through the winter, nor four through the 2022 season once Jake Rogers is placed on the 60 day injured list. It would seem that Barnhart and Eric Haase have dibs on the two catcher spots on the 26 man roster, which leaves Garneau and Grayson Greiner for one spot in Toledo as a potential call up. Greiner has options remaining and Garneau does not, making him the probable odd man out.

Matthew Boyd– seems a sure bet to be non tendered unless the Tigers can come to terms with agent Scott Boras. After surgery, he is out of action for half the 2022 season or more, and the club is not going to go down the arbitration path with him. If they can’t cut a deal, he will be non tendered, still with a chance to be brought back on a minor league contract.

Nivaldo Rodriguez logged just 16 innings with the Houston Astros before being released, and his numbers in the majors suggest he is not ready, but he’s 24 years old, with a couple of options left, so he may be worth a roster spot for a while longer.

Bryan Garcia was in the mix for late inning relief work as the 2020 season came to a close, but that didn’t last long into the 2021 season. He was sent to the minors from July 7 through September 11 and finished the season with a 7.55 ERA and a team worst -0.9 fWAR in 39 innings of work.

Rony Garcia missed most of the 2021 season on the injured list, and there are probably enough others to cut ahead of him, so he should get another shot at rehabbing his arm and his value in the minor leagues. The former Rule 5 pick survived the mandatory first season and managed to pitch just 3 innings in Detroit and 19 in Toledo with elevated rates for strikeouts, walks and home runs. Still at age 23, there might be something there that led the Tigers to select him.

Zach Short is like Adam Everett without the glove. With a slash line of .141/ .239/ .282/ .521 and lacking a reliable glove, it’s hard to find much value there.

Niko Goodrum is the Tiger most likely to be non tendered with a $3 million estimate should he go to arbitration. He was penciled in at shortstop too many times to stomach and a 33 % strikeout rate saps whatever value he might have provided. He has options left, but the better option is to move on and sign a real shortstop.

Willi Castro had a terrible season both at the plate and in the field, following a stellar campaign at least hitting in 2020. The numbers were screaming regression, but what we saw in 2021 was ridiculous. His wOBA dropped from .393 to just .271. Worse yet, was his infield defense. After starting at shortstop, he was moved to second base, where he had seen minimal action in the minors. He was better, but not much. The Tigers sent him down in June, apparently burning his last option, but an injury to Isaac Paredes gave him a reprieve and he remained in the majors, preserving one more chance for him to hone his defense in Toledo and see if he can reclaim value.

Jacob Robson finally got called up during the 2021 season and made his major league debut, going 0 for 7 with four strikeouts, but he did score a run. Still, he figures to be the sixth outfielder on the depth chart and the most likely to clear waivers. If a spot is needed, say to call up Riley Greene, his spot is expendable.

Victor Reyes got off to an awful start in 2021, hitting .141 in 65 plate appearances with -0.6 fWAR and he was optioned to Toledo. After being recalled two weeks later, he was a new ballplayer, slashing .308/ .333/ .493 with a wOBA of .350 and leading all Tigers for the remainder of the season with a wRC+ of 122. He is serviceable enough in the outfield, able to play all three positions if needed, and he can be used as a runner off the bench. The Tigers probably won’t let him get in the way of giving Daz Cameron an extended tryout, but they are more likely than not to keep Reyes around for depth than to let him go.

The club has already released Drew Hutchison and Ian Krol, who would have been eligible for arbitration. Eleven players remain eligible, including several of those mentioned above.

Ultimately, the number of players that the Tigers will remove from the roster will depend upon the number of players that they add to the roster before spring training. There will be some decisions to make in advance of the Rule 5 draft and more before the non tender deadline at the beginning of December.

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