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2016 Detroit Tigers Player Previews and Roster Projection

With spring training underway, it’s time to once again take a look at the players that are projected to start the season on the Opening Day roster, and those that will be competing for a spot. And check back frequently as individual player previews will be added to each member expected to make the club.

Catcher/Designated Hitter

 

Locked In:

C James McCann

DH Victor Martinez

 

Good Chance:

C Jarrod Saltalamacchia

 

Outside Shot:

C Bryan Holaday

 

After a solid debut season from McCann, the Tigers let Alex Avila walk via free agency and plan to hand most-day catching duties to McCann. To provide some experience and a veteran presence (along with more pop off the bench), the Tigers added Saltalamacchia on a one-year deal. While Saltalamacchia isn’t the player he once was, he’s a good bet to occupy the backup spot, sending Holaday back to Toledo. Martinez if healthy could serve as the club’s emergency catcher, but the Tigers are paying him for his bat, and will do everything possible to ensure he stays healthy and can produce at the plate, so it’s unlikely he’ll see time behind the dish.

 

Infielders:

 

Locked In:

1B Miguel Cabrera

2B Ian Kinsler

SS Jose Iglesias

3B Nick Castellanos

 

Good Chance:

IF Andrew Romine

UT Mike Aviles

 

Outside Shot:

SS Dixon Machado

 

There aren’t many questions in the Tigers infield, as barring an injury, the group that the Tigers used most often in 2015 will remain the same for 2016, with Cabrera, Kinsler, Castellanos and Iglesias going around the horn. The question marks only exist on who will handle backup duties, and if the Tigers will keep one backup infielder or two. Aviles brings the ability to play around the diamond as well as the outfield, but Romine was stronger offensively and defensively last season. Machado is likely close to big league ready, but it’s unlikely the Tigers would keep him on the big league roster just to sit on the bench most days.

 

Outfielders:

Locked In:

LF Justin Upton

CF Cameron Maybin

CF Anthony Gose

RF J.D. Martinez

 

Good Chance:

N/A

 

Outside Shot:

LF Tyler Collins

RF Steven Moya

OF John Mayberry Jr.

 

This is the lone position where a starting spot is up for grabs, as Maybin and Gose will battle for center fielder duties this spring, though it’s likely both will see their fair share of time in center, in addition to providing backup spot duty in the corners. While most teams usually carry five outfielders, the Tigers already will have an everyday designated hitter, and with J.D. Martinez along with Upton locked into playing every day, there might not be much of a need for two backup outfielders. That takes Collins, who at the beginning of the calendar year was a good bet to receive extensive playing time in a platoon, into a position where he’s on the outside looking in for a job. Moya and Mayberry Jr. both will at least get at-bats during the spring, but would need a mammoth showing to force their way onto the roster.

 

 

Rotation

 

Locked In:

RHP Justin Verlander

RHP Anibal Sanchez

RHP Jordan Zimmermann

RHP Mike Pelfrey

 

Good Chance:

LHP Daniel Norris

 

Outside Shot:

LHP Matt Boyd

RHP Buck Farmer

RHP Shane Greene

 

With two free agent additions to go with long-time rotation members Verlander and Sanchez, four spots in the rotation are locked in, and Norris will have every opportunity to earn the fifth and final spot, given his lofty prospect status when he was acquired and strong finish down the stretch. If Norris falters, or if an injury happens, Boyd, Farmer and Greene could all get a chance to fill in the gap.

 

 

Bullpen

 

Locked In:

RHP Francisco Rodriguez

RHP Mark Lowe

Justin Wilson

RHP Alex Wilson

LHP Blaine Hardy

 

Good Chance:

N/A

 

Outside Shot:

LHP Matt Boyd

RHP Buck Farmer

RHP Shane Greene

RHP Bruce Rondon

RHP Drew VerHagen

RHP Angel Nesbitt

LHP Kyle Ryan

 

Like the rotation, the Tigers made some significant investments in the back of the bullpen, and when you combine the three new additions with the two lone members of the bullpen that were solid last year in Alex Wilson and Hardy, and you’re already down to two open spots among a bevy of competitors. Of the two open spots, one will be dedicated to a long reliever which could fall to someone like VerHagen or Greene. Rondon meanwhile was the club’s closer at one point last season, but will need to prove he’s ready mentally for the big league game to earn a spot, and even that will start off as middle innings reliever, should he out-pitch the rest of the competition.


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