The Marlins and infielder Jean Segura agreed to a two-year, $17MM deal last week, but it seems the Tigers were also interested in his services. A report from Barry Jackson and Craig Mish of the Miami Herald indicates that Detroit pursued Segura but the South Florida resident let the Marlins know he was willing to play for them, eventually leading to a deal.
Though the Tigers ultimately came up short in their Segura pursuit, it’s still worth noting that they’ve considered upgrading their lineup via free agency since they might now pivot to the remaining options. The fact that they are looking to make improvements isn’t at all surprising given how dismal the club was on offense last year. Collectively, they hit .231/.286/.346 for a wRC+ of 81, which was dead last in the majors.
To this point in the offseason, their focus has been more on the pitching side. They’ve signed Matthew Boyd and Michael Lorenzen to bolster their rotation, with their most significant move on the position player side being the acquisition of Tyler Nevin from the Orioles. Though they could hope for bounceback campaigns from players like Javier Báez, Austin Meadows and Akil Baddoo, it also makes sense that they would look for external additions.
As of right now, the Detroit infield likely projects to feature Spencer Torkelson at first, Jonathan Schoop at second and Báez at short, with third base likely falling to Ryan Kreidler. The hot corner was manned by Jeimer Candelario until he was non-tendered and signed by the Nats. Kreidler played second, third and shortstop last year and could potentially take over for Candelario, though Nevin, Zack Short, Kody Clemens, Andy Ibáñez or Andre Lipcius are on the 40-man and could factor in there as well.
Segura could have fit into the mix in a few different ways. He’s primarily been a second baseman over the past few years and could have bumped Schoop over to first, which is where he played for most of 2021. However, he put up elite defensive marks at the keystone last year, with Outs Above Average giving him an incredible +27 grade, the best among all fielders in the league. Segura is also a strong defender at second and could have given the club an excellent right side of the infield, though that likely would have involved Schoop and Torkelson taking up the first base and designated hitter slots most days, potentially nudging Miguel Cabrera out of the lineup in what is likely to be his last season.
Another possibility would have been the Tigers simply putting Segura at third base. He doesn’t have a ton of experience at that position but the Marlins seem to have enough faith in his abilities at the hot corner that they are planning on installing him there. In that scenario, Kreidler could have been moved to a utility role or back to the minors. His first 26 MLB games resulted in a batting line of just .178/.244/.233, so it could make sense to at least have backup plans in place should his struggles continue. The same goes for Torkelson, who has hit .203/.285/.319 in his first 110 major league games.
Segura is the latest in a series of infielders that have also been connected to the Tigers. The club also had reported interest in Adam Frazier who has now signed with the Orioles and Wil Myers who will be with the Reds in 2023. Brian Anderson was also listed among their targets, who is still available. Now that the Tigers have missed on Segura, Myers and Frazier, they could circle back to Anderson, or look to other free agent infielders such as Josh Harrison, Donovan Solano or Rougned Odor. None of those players will likely break the bank and the Tigers should have a bit of payroll wiggle room. They are currently at $124MM, per the calculations of Roster Resource, south of the $135MM Opening Day figure they had last year, per Cot’s Baseball Contracts.