Schoop back to Detroit on 1-year deal

February 5th, 2021

will be returning to Detroit in 2021.

The Tigers re-signed free-agent second baseman Schoop to a one-year contract, the club announced on Friday. Financial terms were not disclosed, but a source told's Jason Beck the deal is worth $4.5 million. To make room on the 40-man roster, the Tigers designated outfielder Travis Demeritte for assignment.

The decision to bring Schoop back marks the first time the club re-signed an everyday player in free agency since Victor Martinez after the 2014 season. Although it was a shortened season (made even shorter by a season-ending wrist injury in September), Schoop enjoyed his best offensive year since his All-Star season in 2017. In 44 games, he hit .278 with a .799 OPS (115 OPS+), eight homers and 23 RBIs.

"Jonathan made a tremendous impression on us last year, and we’re looking forward to having him back with the ballclub for the 2021 season,” general manager Al Avila said in a statement. “Not only were we impressed by the on-field results, but also his leadership and relentless desire to be in the lineup day-in and day-out. It’s hard for a one-year free agent to have a real positive impact on a clubhouse’s culture, but he certainly achieved that last season, and we’re looking forward to that continuing."

One of Detroit’s biggest needs heading into the offseason was adding an impact hitter, which Schoop proved he could be after his hot start to the 2020 season. But not only did the 29-year-old produce with his bat, Schoop also provided solid defense, finishing as an American League Gold Glove finalist for second base in 2020 after posting a Major League-leading and career-high .994 fielding percentage. Barring any injuries, it's likely Schoop would return to his starting role at second base this year.

"I’m thankful for the opportunity to rejoin the Tigers for the 2021 season,” Schoop said. "We have a really good group here -- we started to build something special last year and are going to take it to the next level in 2021. This year I can't wait to experience first-hand the energy that the wonderful Tigers' fans bring to Comerica Park."

One of the motivating factors for Schoop to return to Detroit was the addition of the club’s new manager, A.J. Hinch, who has often expressed this winter how much he enjoys having infielders who play multiple positions. Though Schoop has played 805 of his 844 career games at second base, he may be open to expanding his versatility.

“I’m excited to play for A.J.,” Schoop said. “He and I have already had great conversations about allowing me to showcase my defensive versatility a bit more this year. And Scott Coolbaugh was my hitting coach in Baltimore during my 2017 All-Star season. He is a great hitting coach and communicator and knows how much damage I can do at the plate.”

Schoop becomes the Tigers' fourth prominent signing of the offseason, following the club's recent decision to sign catcher Wilson Ramos to a one-year, $2 million deal at the end of January.

Demeritte played in 66 games for Detroit over the last two seasons, hitting .217 with a .608 OPS, three home runs, 14 RBIs and 17 walks. The outfielder came to Detroit at the Trade Deadline in 2019 in the deal that sent Shane Greene to Atlanta. In 96 games with the Braves’ Triple-A affiliate in ’19, Demeritte batted .286 with a .944 OPS, 20 homers and 73 RBIs.