The Detroit Tigers currently have 39 players on the 40-man roster.
Two top prospects — corner outfielder/third baseman Justyn-Henry Malloy and third baseman/second baseman Colt Keith — need to be added to the 40-man roster before they can make their MLB debuts. Another up-and-coming player, right-handed pitcher Sawyer Gipson-Long, eventually needs to join the 40-man roster because he will be Rule 5 eligible in the offseason.
President of baseball operations Scott Harris, in the final stretch of his first season, quashed the speculation about using the open spot on the 40-man roster to promote one of his top prospects to the big leagues.
“I got an itchy trigger finger, so I’m going to try to fill that spot soon,” Harris said Monday morning, speaking on 97.1 The Ticket (WXYT-FM) from Oakland Hills Country Club. “It is not a call-up.”
Jim Costa, filling in for a vacationing Mike Stone on 97.1 The Ticket’s morning show with Jon Jasen, doubled down by asking directly if Malloy or Keith would be added to the 40-man roster.
“It is not one of those two guys,” Harris said.
Costa responded with a perfect one-liner.
“Sorry, Tigers Twitter,” he said.
There became an opening on the 40-man roster when infielder Isan Díaz, who played two games for the Tigers when shortstop Javier Báez was on the bereavement list, cleared waivers. Díaz was outrighted to Triple-A Toledo, but since he had been outrighted previously in his career, he chose to reject the assignment to the Mud Hens and test free agency.
Now the Tigers can add a player — presumably from outside of the organization — to the 40-man roster.
It’s the gateway to receiving an opportunity on the 26-man roster.
Right-hander Noah Syndergaard, an All-Star in 2016, was recently designated for assignment by the Cleveland Guardians; outfielder/infielder Jurickson Profar, who has a 9.8% walk rate and 16.4% strikeout rate in his 10-year MLB career, was recently released by the Colorado Rockies.
The Tigers expressed interest in Profar as a free agent in the offseason. In the 2022 season, Profar hit .243 with 15 home runs, 73 walks and 103 strikeouts over 152 games with the San Diego Padres.
Roughly 10 days ago, the Tigers signed catcher Carson Kelly — who had been designated for assignment by the Arizona Diamondbacks — for the rest of the 2023 season with a $3.5 club option for the 2024 season. (Fellow catcher Eric Haase was designated for assignment to create space for Kelly on the 40-man roster.)
Maybe Harris will strike a similar type of low-risk, high-reward deal with Syndergaard or Profar.
Time will tell what happens to the open spot on the 40-man roster, but by the end of the week, MLB rosters will expand from 26 players to 28 players. The Tigers plan to add one pitcher and one position player to the active roster.
As for the position player, there are several candidates on the current 40-man roster: Ryan Kreidler, Eddys Leonard, Andre Lipcius, Nick Maton, Tyler Nevin, Wenceel Pérez and Donny Sands. Everyone besides Sands, a catcher, has gained Triple-A experience in the infield and outfield.
But what about Malloy and Keith?
“We talked a lot about this when we called up Parker Meadows,” Harris said. “What do we need to see with those two guys and all of the other future big leaguers in Toledo? We need to get comfortable that they’re going to contribute in all facets of the game. Tiger fans have seen Parker already contribute on the bases, in the field and at the plate.
“We got to feel equally good about the rest of those guys. As I said last week, I think their bats are pretty close. I think both of them are pretty close to being able to help us at the plate. We got to make sure that we’re investing in the other facets of their game so that they’re ready to get here.”
Waiting on Manning
Tigers manager A.J. Hinch didn’t have an update on the health of right-hander Matt Manning, who is lined up to start Wednesday against the Yankees but hasn’t been officially scheduled for the start.
The 25-year-old suffered a lower back injury in his last start.
“I need to talk to him after he throws his bullpen,” Hinch said. “Save that one for tomorrow.”