Tigers’ expected roster cleanse could impact which prospects get Rule 5 protection

Detroit News

Detroit — While we are busy adding things to the new general manager’s to-do list, even though there remains no timetable to the actual hiring of a new GM — he or she can thank us later — the Tigers this offseason will be facing some potentially thorny questions regarding which prospects to protect from the Rule 5 draft.

Of course, having a new person in charge changes the dynamics of these decisions greatly. The new boss won’t have drafted any of these players, presumably. The person won’t have the same history with these players that former GM Al Avila and his staff had.

The process may be a little colder, more analytical. And that may not be the worst way to go about it.

To protect a prospect from the Rule 5 draft, teams have to put them on the 40-man roster. That means players will have to be lopped off the 40-man roster to clear space.

The Tigers’ roster is at full capacity right now and after the season all the players currently on the 60-day injured list will have to be put back on the 40-man.

That includes Spencer Turnbull, Tarik Skubal, Casey Mize, Alex Faedo, Kyle Funkhouser, Jake Rogers and Beau Brieske.

Players on the 10-day and 15-day IL, like Michael Pineda, Rony Garcia and Austin Meadows, will also have to be put back on the roster.

Crowded house.

It will be thinned organically when players on one-year deals or non-tender candidates come off at the end of the season. That group includes, potentially, pitchers Drew Hutchison, Bryan Garcia, Daniel Norris and Pineda, third baseman Jeimer Candelario and catcher Tucker Barnhart.

But the list of prospects you’d expect to be at least under discussion for protection is sizeable. Here’s an attempt to prioritize/handicap that list.

To be protected

IF Ryan Kreidler: Ranked No. 7 in the system, Kreidler would have already made his big-league debut this season had it not been for a hand injury. His best position is shortstop, but to make the Tigers next year, it will likely have to be at third base or second base. There is a chance he will be called up in September.

RHP Reese Olson: Ranked No. 9, he’s posted 138 strikeouts with 31 walks in 98 innings at Double-A Erie. He’s had his ups and downs, for sure, but the Tigers see him as someone who could certainly be in the plans at some point next season.

On the bubble

OF Parker Meadows: He’s played his way into consideration, slashing .262/.339/.477 with a .816 OPS, mostly at Erie this season. He’s pounded 18 home runs, too. At 22, he seems to just now be hitting his stride after four seasons in the organization.

RHP Austin Bergner: He’s 25 years old and just got to Triple-A Toledo last month after a strong 19-start showing at Erie. He misses bats (nine strikeouts per nine innings at both levels) with a riding four-seamer (93-96 mph), a plus changeup and a vastly improved slider.

IF Wenceel Perez: Tough call here. He’s been in the organization since he was 17 and he will be 23 in October. His defense alternates between superb and sloppy, but his bat finally came around this year. He’s posted a career-best .914 OPS at Erie. But he’s one year away from being a minor-league free agent. Does that make him more likely to be protected or less?

RHP Sawyer Gipson-Long: Acquired from Minnesota for Michael Fulmer, he’s given up seven runs in 13⅓ innings in three starts at Erie. He’ll be going into his age-25 season next year. When the trade was made, the Tigers figured he might be two years away from contributing at the big-league level. Not sure a new set of eyes will agree.

Not protected

IF Andre Lipcius: He’s 24 and just reached Triple-A. He does a lot of things very well and nothing especially great.

OF Eric De La Rosa: After an encouraging spring, his bat just hasn’t taken off. He’ll be 26 next season, too.

RHP Zack Hess: He’s missed the entire season after Tommy John surgery.

Schoop on IL

Jonathan Schoop despises missing ballgames, but when he showed up for treatment on the off day Monday and his right ankle was more swollen than it was Sunday, he knew he was going on the injured list.

“I knew I wouldn’t be able to play today or tomorrow so they needed to get somebody up here,” Schoop said. “It was swollen everywhere. It’s better today but we had to make a decision.”

Manager AJ Hinch said he expects Schoop will be able to play again this season, but he wasn’t giving out any timetables.

“I’m so done talking about IL-stint predictions,” he said. “I’ve been struggling with that all year. I will stay away from this one. He’s moving around OK and we’d like him to play again. I don’t think he will be out for the year.

“But the accumulation of the unknown has driven me to being very nonspecific.”

If he’s out just the 10 days, Schoop would miss just six games.

Short back up

Zack Short has been up and down several times this season but he’s only gotten three big-league at-bats.

He was likely to surpass that Tuesday, getting the start at second base.

In 15 games (68 plate appearances) at Toledo this month, Short is slashing .289/.456/.481 with a .937 OPS and two home runs. He’s earned this call-up.

“It’s funny, after I was up on the taxi squad and stayed around over the All-Star break, something just clicked,” he said. “I’ve been feeling really good. I’m just going to ride it out for as long as I can.”

Short is among several players whose future with the organization is in question. He can be a minor-league free agent this offseason, which puts a little more juice on this latest opportunity.

“It’s huge,” he said. “Anytime you have an opportunity, even if it’s for a day, it’s a showcase for moving forward for next year — whether it’s here or someplace else. You just don’t ever know who is watching. My parents instilled that in me my whole life. You never know who is sitting back there. You never know whose eyes are on you.”

Personnel dept.

Hinch said before the game that it was looking doubtful that Rogers would be able to return this season.

“I don’t see that being probable,” Hinch said. “He hasn’t progressed to the point where we feel he’s ready to be fully active as a player. He’s just not fully cleared.”

Rogers is working his way back after Tommy John surgery.

cmccosky@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @cmccosky

Giants at Tigers

First pitch: 1:10 p.m. Wednesday, Comerica Park, Detroit

TV/radio: BSD, MLBN/97.1

SCOUTING REPORT

RHP Logan Webb (11-6, 3.08), Giants: This will be his major league-leading 26th start and he’s already posted 17 quality starts. Steady as a rock. He pitches to mostly soft contact with a slider (.206 opponent average, 31% whiff rate) and changeup (.201) off a 92-mph sinker. Hitters have trouble getting the ball in the air against him, as evidenced by his 58% ground ball rate.

RHP Matt Manning (0-1, 2.81), Tigers: He put it all together last Friday night against the Angels. He had a firm and lively heater which sat at 94.6 mph and hit 97, and he was effectively varying location and speed with his slider. He allowed a run and three hits with six strikeouts over seven innings.

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