DETROIT -- The Tigers played the non-tender free-agent market into prospect depth a year ago by signing Mike Fiers, helping him rebuild his game, then trading him to a contending team this past summer. If they want to try to repeat the maneuver, they'll have no shortage of candidates --
DETROIT -- The Tigers played the non-tender free-agent market into prospect depth a year ago by signing Mike Fiers, helping him rebuild his game, then trading him to a contending team this past summer. If they want to try to repeat the maneuver, they'll have no shortage of candidates -- including Fiers.
Last Friday's deadline for teams to offer contracts to arbitration-eligible players resulted in a flood of guys thrust onto the free-agent market. The Tigers non-tendered catcher James McCann and reliever Alex Wilson, and they could well end up re-signing one or both if they don't find a deal to their liking from other clubs. But Detroit's more likely move is to find a non-tendered player or two it perceives as undervalued and try to build them back up.
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That player might not be a high-profile name. Jonathan Schoop, for instance, went from a 32-homer All-Star 2017 season in Baltimore to a non-tender in Milwaukee following a miserable '18 stretch run with the Brewers. But Schoop shouldn't have a shortage of interest from clubs -- rebuilding and resurging alike -- and might find a better venue for his power than Comerica Park, despite his three home runs in 49 career at-bats there.
Here's a look at some non-tendered players who could fit the Tigers' needs -- think shortstop, starting pitching and catching -- while also providing some rebound potential:
Timothy Beckham, INF
The Tigers have cast a wide search for a veteran, defensive-minded shortstop to hold down their starting job next season while prospects Willi Castro and Sergio Alcantara get another year of seasoning. Beckham, the top overall pick in the 2008 Draft, turns 29 years old in January and is two-plus months younger than fellow free agent Freddy Galvis, but he offers two seasons of club control to whichever team signs him.
Beckham seemingly realized his potential in 2017, batting .278 with 22 homers and a .782 OPS between the Rays and Orioles. But an early-season groin strain derailed his '18 campaign, costing him two months. He regained shortstop duties following Manny Machado's trade to the Dodgers, but he posted a negative-3 Defensive Runs Saved and minus-6 Ultimate Zone Rating in just over a quarter-season there while regressing offensively. It would be a risky signing, but one with upside.
Richard Parker, RHP
The Tigers are looking for relief help after non-tendering Wilson last week. Parker could be a very good fit after posting a 2.90 ERA, 3.55 FIP and 156 strikeouts in 133 2/3 innings over the past two seasons in the Angels' bullpen. The 33-year-old still has two years of club control.
Ronald Torreyes, INF
Torreyes was a utility man in the Yankees' infield for parts of the past three seasons, and he was primarily a second baseman on his way up the Minor Leagues. If the Tigers wanted to go for versatility with a middle-infield signing, however, the 26-year-old Torreyes could be an option. His 576 Major League at-bats since 2015 resulted in a .281 average, 30 doubles and a .685 OPS. The Yankees traded him last week to the Cubs, who non-tendered him two days later.
Shelby Miller, RHP
The Tigers have a rough history with injury bouncebacks (remember Joel Hanrahan a few years ago). They also need innings as much as anything from a starter, and Miller has just 38 innings over the past two seasons thanks to elbow surgery and ensuing inflammation. Before the injuries, however, he was a workhorse, delivering 205 1/3 innings and a 3.02 ERA in a 17-loss season for the Braves in 2015. At 28 years old, he has age on his side -- if not his health -- and his velocity in what little work he had this past season was around normal. The risk would be big, but so would the upside, at least short term.
Matthew Shoemaker, RHP
Not only is Shoemaker a local, having played at Trenton High School and Eastern Michigan University, but he also still makes an offseason home in the area, works out here in the winter and helps fellow Detroiter Anthony Bass host a baseball camp at Wayne State University each January. He famously came back from a fractured skull in 2017, but forearm surgeries limited him to 21 starts over the past two seasons. With career 8.1 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 rates to go with a 3.93 FIP, matching his career 3.93 ERA, the 32-year-old is a solid pitcher when healthy.
Chris Herrmann, C/OF
Gardenhire loves catchers who can play multiple positions, and he knows Herrmann, who played his first four seasons with the Twins and another for the D-backs in 2017 when Gardenhire was their bench coach. The 31-year-old could give Detroit a left-handed hitter to use behind the plate, at first base, in the corner outfield or in pinch-hitting situations.
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.