Tigers To Option Parker Meadows, Select Ryan Vilade

MLB Trade Rumors

The Tigers plan to option center fielder Parker Meadows to Triple-A Toledo before tomorrow’s matchup with the Guardians, reports Evan Petzold of the Detroit Free-Press. Detroit will promote Ryan Vilade to take the active roster spot, Petzold adds (on X). The Tigers will need to open a spot on the 40-man roster but can do so by transferring Sawyer Gipson-Long to the 60-day injured list.

While Detroit is out to a respectable 18-17 start, they’re riding a four-game losing skid after this evening’s loss in Cleveland. Their decent overall results are largely a credit of the pitching staff. The Tigers entered play Monday ranked 22nd in MLB in scoring. They’re 24th in on-base percentage and 25th in slugging.

It has been a very top-heavy group. While Riley GreeneMark CanhaKerry Carpenter, Matt Vierling and (in a smaller sample) Wenceel Pérez have hit well, Detroit has gotten almost nothing beyond the top half of their lineup. That’s particularly true at the up-the-middle positions. The catching duo of Carson Kelly and Jake Rogers and the middle infield tandem of Javier Báez and Colt Keith haven’t produced.

Meadows, who has started 26 of 35 games in center field, is off to perhaps the coldest start of all. He has punched out 32 times in 85 plate appearances. Meadows is hitting .096/.224/.219 with a pair of home runs. To his credit, he hasn’t carried those offensive struggles with him into the outfield. Public metrics have rated him among the sport’s best defensive players through the season’s first few weeks. Yet the Tigers clearly need some level of offensive contributions from the bottom of the order.

Plugging Pérez into the lineup is one way to try to inject more life into the offense, though it’ll surely involve a defensive downgrade. It seems that’s a trade-off the Tigers are willing to embrace. Manager A.J. Hinch had penciled Pérez into center field for four straight games at the end of last week. Meadows has gotten the start for the last two games while Pérez battled an illness. The rookie came off the bench to hit for Meadows in the sixth inning of tonight’s game.

Pérez, 24, has started his MLB career with a .296/.387/.556 slash over 62 plate appearances. While he’s not likely to continue hitting at that elite clip, the switch-hitter had a solid .274/.368/.417 showing between the top two minor league levels in 2023. At the very least, he’s currently in a much better groove at the plate than Meadows has been.

Meadows entered the season with 42 days of MLB service. He needs to spend 130 days on the MLB roster or injured list to surpass the one-year threshold in 2024. Meadows has spent 40 days in the majors this year. If he stays in Toledo for around two months, his path to free agency would be pushed back until the 2030-31 offseason.

Vilade, 25, has three games of MLB experience. A former second-round pick of the Rockies, he was once a prospect of some regard in the Colorado system. Vilade stalled out in the upper minors, though, and he only received a cup of coffee at Coors Field in 2021. He spent the 2023 season in Triple-A with the Pirates after being claimed off waivers. Vilade hit .271/.370/.382 with Pittsburgh’s top affiliate but didn’t get a big league look.

The right-handed hitter signed a minor league deal with the Tigers in November. He’s out to a big start in Toledo, hitting .333/.398/.551 with three homers and eight doubles. Vilade has also swiped eight bases in nine tries. He’s striking out at a 27.3% clip, which is a concern, but the overall production was enough to snag a roster spot. Vilade has bounced all over the diamond for the Mud Hens, starting multiple games at second base, third base, designated hitter and in all three outfield positions. He can work as a bat-first utility piece off the bench.

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