Tigers To Sign Gio Urshela

MLB Trade Rumors

The Tigers have agreed to a one-year deal with free agent infielder Gio Urshela, reports Jeff Passan of ESPN. The Rep 1 client will be guaranteed $1.5MM on the contract, which is pending a physical. Jon Heyman of the New York Post adds that the deal contains incentives which can further boost Urshela’s earnings.

It’s the second straight day with a veteran infielder agreeing to a $1.5MM free agent deal that falls well shy of what most pundits expected entering the offseason. Urshela’s deal matches the $1.5MM deal that Amed Rosario inked with the Rays this week. Detroit president of baseball operations Scott Harris recently suggested his club wasn’t likely to sign any “everyday-type” hitters to big league deals, citing a desire to commit to the wave of young prospects bubbling up to the majors. However, at this price point, Urshela was likely too enticing an opportunity for a team without a clear answer at third base.

Prior to this agreement, the Tigers looked to be preparing to begin the season with a platoon of Zach McKinstry and either Andy Ibanez or Matt Vierling at the hot corner. That pair would presumably hold things own until 2022 first-round pick Jace Jung worked his way to the big leagues. Urshela, however, gives the Tigers a viable everyday option at third base while Jung finishes off his development — or at the very least provides a strong right-handed bat to complement with the lefty-swinging McKinstry.

Beyond the fit at third base, Urshela provides insurance in other ways. He’s played some shortstop in the big leagues, including 71 innings with the Angels in 2023, and could step in for Javier Baez at times. He also gives Detroit a veteran to be leaned upon in the event that top prospect Colt Keith, who signed a six-year extension before making his MLB debut and is expected to open the year as the Tigers’ second baseman, struggles early on. Urshela could handle second base himself or take up a more prominent role at the hot corner, with McKinstry sliding over to second base should Keith ultimately be determined to be in need of some more time in the minors.

More to come.

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