While the demotion hardly writes the 23-year-old Baddoo out of GM Al Avila’s long-term plans, it does speak to the marked contrast between the outfielder’s start to the 2022 season, in which he’s slashed a meager .140/.218/.220, and the hot start to his 2021 rookie campaign, during which he logged a .271/.352/.462 triple-slash before fading down the stretch. Derek Hill, who’s slashed .250/.273/.281 this year in limited action, is the likeliest candidate to take Baddoo’s spot in center, at least in the short term. Cody Stavenhagen of The Athletic notes that utility-man Willi Castro is also likely to see time there, though he’s only logged a handful of big-league innings as an outfielder — and all of them in left.
Though Baddoo is hardly the only culprit, he and second baseman Jonathan Schoop have been particularly unproductive for a Detroit squad that’s clearly underperforming expectations. After doling out $238MM in guaranteed money in free agency (to shortstop Javier Baez, starters Eduardo Rodriguez and Michael Pineda, and reliever Andrew Chafin) and acquiring catcher Tucker Barnhart and outfielder Austin Meadows via trade (from the Reds and Rays, respectively), the Tigers have limped along to a collective 80 wRC+ (ahead of only the Royals, Red Sox, A’s, and Reds) that’s seen them fall nine games off the pace in AL Central.
Given the lack of outfield depth in Detroit — and particularly the shortage of options in center — it’s unlikely Baddoo will remain in the minors for long if he can regain his stroke in Toledo. Should he fail to find his form, however, he does run the risk of being overtaken by consensus top-ten prospect Riley Greene, who’s been sidelined by a fractured right foot but is expected to return to action around the end of May — and could well prove himself ready for the majors not long thereafter.
In what will be his second stint with the club this season, Garcia, owner of a career 6.39 ERA (6.42 FIP) across 31 big-league innings, will slot in at the back end of the Detroit bullpen. The righty was effective in limited action before he was optioned to Triple-A ahead of the late-April return of Chafin from injury, notching 6 1/3 innings of 2.84 ERA ball.