Detroit — Given the track record of Tigers president Scott Harris, you had to know he had more moves up his sleeve. Even if they don’t immediately appear to make sense.
The Tigers Monday acquired light-hitting utility infielder Zach McKinstry from the Cubs for minor-league right-hander Carlos Guzman.
McKinstry, the former Central Michigan University standout, is out of minor-league options so presumably, the Tigers plan to carry him on their Opening Day roster.
Subsequent to the trade, the Tigers announced that non-roster infielder Cesar Hernandez was reassigned to minor-league camp and Zack Short was optioned to Triple-A Toledo. Outfielder Akil Baddoo was also optioned to Toledo.
With those moves, the Tigers’ 13 position players appear to be set.
Catchers: Eric Haase, Jake Rogers.
Infielders/utility players: Miguel Cabrera (DH), Spencer Torkelson (1B), Jonathan Schoop (2B), Javier Baez (SS), Nick Maton (UT), Ryan Kreidler (UT), McKinstry (UT). Tyler Nevin (3B, 1B) will start the season on the injured list.
Outfielders: Riley Greene, Austin Meadows, Matt Vierling, Kerry Carpenter.
Unless Harris makes more moves, the final roster decisions will involve the bullpen. Lefties Tyler Holton and Chasen Shreve and right-handers Trey Wingenter, Garrett Hill and Beau Brieske are in the mix for three spots.
Lefty Jace Fry and right-handers Trevor Rosenthal and Matt Wisler were reassigned to minor-league camp on Monday.
The Tigers, who are in Lakeland ahead of the season-opener in Tampa Thursday, were off Monday. The roster doesn’t have to be submitted to the league until noon Thursday.
The left-handed-hitting McKinstry, 27, came up through the Dodgers organization and was extremely productive over three seasons in Triple-A, slashing .323/.401/.550 with a .951 OPS in 114 games. But, that productivity hasn’t yet translated to the big leagues.
In 121 games, including 74 with the Dodgers, he’s slashed .208/.269/.384 with a 29% strikeout rate and a 7% walk rate.
Defensively, he’s played second base, shortstop, third base and right and left field. He’s a minus-3 defensive runs saved overall.
The battle between Carpenter and Baddoo was an intriguing one all spring. Hinch made it clear that carrying four left-handed hitting outfielders would be problematic, and Greene and Meadows were locks to make the club.
Both had productive springs. It came down to Carpenter’s power and run-producing ability over Baddoo’s speed and superior defensive abilities. The majority of Carpenter’s at-bats could come as the designated hitter. He and Cabrera are likely to share that role.
In Guzman, the Cubs are getting a 24-year-old starting pitcher who went 9-6 with a 4.16 ERA at High-A West Michigan last season. He also pitched in two games at Double-A Erie.
The Tigers cleared room on their 40-man roster for McKinstry by recalling right-handed pitcher Freddy Pacheco and then placing him on the 60-day injured list. Pacheco is recovering from Tommy John surgery.