Tigers sign Schoop, Cron to matching deals

December 21st, 2019

DETROIT -- While procrastinating Tigers fans scrambled to finish their shopping ahead of the holidays, the Tigers took care of a big chunk of their remaining offseason shopping sooner than expected. First baseman and second baseman are headed to Detroit on one-year contracts, the team announced Saturday.

Both deals are worth $6.1 million, sources told MLB.com.

Cron and Schoop spent this past season with the Twins, helping Minnesota to its first American League Central title since 2010. Both hopped over to the other side of the division to help a Tigers offense that ranked last in the American League in most key categories.

“Adding Jonathan and C.J. is a step towards accomplishing our offseason goal of making the ballclub better heading into the 2020 season,” general manager Al Avila said in a statement. “We’re excited to have them join our organization, and we expect both players will inject significant power to our lineup."

Cron, who turns 30 next month, gives the Tigers the run producer they sorely lacked behind Miguel Cabrera after the club traded Nicholas Castellanos last season. It was an offseason priority for Avila, especially after signing Austin Romine to address Detroit’s catching situation. Once switch-hitter Justin Smoak signed with the Brewers on Thursday, Cron -- who was non-tendered by the Twins earlier this month -- became one of the most logical fits.

Cron pummeled Tigers pitching for seven of his 25 home runs with the Twins this past season, to go with a .253 batting average and .780 OPS for the season. He’s a pure right-handed slugger whose 1.020 OPS off left-handed pitching ranked 10th among AL hitters, and he’s still in his prime years. In the field, his plus-3 defensive runs saved tied for seventh among Major League first basemen, according to FanGraphs.

Cron also has some knowledge of the Tigers organization; his father, Chris, managed at Double-A Erie from 2011-13, leading the SeaWolves to their most recent playoff berth.

“I’m really excited to join this organization that I’ve played against for the last six seasons,” Cron said in a statement. “Wearing the Olde English ‘D’ and playing for the great baseball fans in Detroit will be an honor.”

The Tigers will be Cron’s fourth team in as many years. He’ll be eligible for free agency at season’s end.

The 28-year-old Schoop put up similar numbers to Cron, batting .256 with 23 homers, 59 RBIs and a .777 OPS in 121 games. Much of his damage came away from Target Field. He batted .266 with 16 homers and an .836 OPS in 62 games on the road.

“Heading into this offseason, Detroit was always on my radar as a team that I’d enjoy signing with,” Schoop said in a statement. “I look forward to playing every day and being a leader on this young team.”

While the Tigers aren’t done with offseason signings -- they still would like to add a veteran starter and a reliever, plus possibly a corner outfielder -- the signings likely fill out a predominantly right-handed Tigers lineup. Cron is expected to take over at first base and potentially get a day here and there at DH if Miguel Cabrera is healthy enough to play first on occasion.

Though the Tigers could still add a shortstop late this offseason depending on who’s still available, Niko Goodrum is expected to get the first shot at the starting job, barring a surprise. The switch-hitting super-utility player handled the job well in an everyday stint at midseason while Jordy Mercer was injured.

To make room on the 40-man roster, outfielder Brandon Dixon has been designated for assignment.