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Gibson, Morris join Tigers broadcasting team

Shepard, a fixture in Detroit sports scene, to work as play-by-play man
MLB.com @beckjason

DETROIT -- While the Tigers continue their youth movement on the field, they'll go with a veteran lineup on the microphone that includes familiar faces in the broadcast booth. FOX Sports Detroit will turn to Hall of Famer Jack Morris to team with Kirk Gibson as analysts on Tigers telecasts alongside play-by-play man Matt Shepard, whose late-season audition led to the full-time job.

The trio was officially introduced on Tuesday morning along with former Tigers Craig Monroe and Dan Petry, who will serve as pre- and post-game analysts. The network begins its 2019 slate with a Spring Training broadcast on Thursday, March 14, against the Red Sox at Joker Marchant Stadium.

DETROIT -- While the Tigers continue their youth movement on the field, they'll go with a veteran lineup on the microphone that includes familiar faces in the broadcast booth. FOX Sports Detroit will turn to Hall of Famer Jack Morris to team with Kirk Gibson as analysts on Tigers telecasts alongside play-by-play man Matt Shepard, whose late-season audition led to the full-time job.

The trio was officially introduced on Tuesday morning along with former Tigers Craig Monroe and Dan Petry, who will serve as pre- and post-game analysts. The network begins its 2019 slate with a Spring Training broadcast on Thursday, March 14, against the Red Sox at Joker Marchant Stadium.

"Tigers baseball has a long, rich history of excellence on the field and in the broadcast booth," FSD general manager Greg Hammaren said in a Tuesday morning conference call introducing the trio. "With our announcement, fans will be treated to an authentic, experienced and fun broadcast. …

"Matt has earned this opportunity and represents the authentic aspect. Jack and Kirk represent the experience and the fun."

Said Shepard: "Our broadcast team, you're going to have a lot of laughs, and you're going to learn a lot. Hopefully fans will enjoy the broadcasts. There's going to be a lot of storytelling."

The trio replaces Mario Impemba and Rod Allen, whose 16-year stretch together made them the second-longest-running TV duo in baseball before a press-box altercation following a September game in Chicago ended their run.

Tweet from @FOXSportsDet: Hall of Famer Jack Morris on @tigers fans. Morris returns as an analyst on FOX Sports Detroit. #Tigers pic.twitter.com/YPq4nFyRE8

The homecoming for Morris, who has worked with MLB.com the past few years, is far from his first stint on Tigers broadcasts, but it's his first as a regular. He began working on Tigers telecasts in 2003, when he teamed with Frank Beckmann on select over-the-air telecasts in Detroit. He joined the Twins' broadcast team a few years later to stay closer to his Minnesota home, first on the radio side before moving over to FOX Sports North in '13.

Morris, 63, joined FOX Sports Detroit on select telecasts in 2015, splitting his time between the Tigers and Twins over the course of the season. He worked occasionally on Tigers broadcasts the last few years and spent a good share of time around the club last year as part of his Hall of Fame induction. He developed a friendship with Matthew Boyd on the team's Winter Caravan last offseason, and Boyd credited Morris with encouraging the aggressive approach to pitching that helped Boyd emerge as an effective starter.

"I'm excited," Morris said. "I couldn't be happier about where my baseball career has taken me and where it's going to be taking me down the road. For me to be coming back to Detroit, it's special."

While Christin Stewart and Spencer Turnbull made an impression on Tigers fans with late-season auditions on the field, Shepard and Gibson did the same on air, stepping in as the everyday duo following the incident in Chicago. Gibson, a Tigers analyst on FOX Sports Detroit from 1998-2002, returned to the booth in '15 after his run as the D-backs' manager, doing a select number of games while Allen was off or in the studio for pregame and postgame coverage.

"I've known Shep for many years, listening to him," Gibson said. "He's basically born and raised in the Detroit area as I was -- the first thing I noticed is that he's as crazy as I am about his work. Shep is a relentless idea guy. He loves the game, and he has passion, and he cares about the people and the fans."

Though Gibson, 61, revealed his battle with Parkinson's disease that year, he has maintained a regular schedule while maintaining his health. A monthlong stretch of everyday broadcasts posed a challenge down the stretch, but Gibson took the same mentality to the schedule that he did as an everyday player. With Morris in the fold, Gibson is expected to go back to his previous schedule of select series and games.

But as special as the opportunity is for the former Tigers, it may be more so for Shepard, who grew up a Tigers fan in the Detroit area and has been part of the network's coverage for years.

"Matt's roots here in Michigan had a large influence on our decision," Hammaren said. "The fact that he not only knows the fan base, but is the fan base, represented a lot of what we were looking for in our future play-by-play man."

Tweet from @FOXSportsDet: "I've wanted to do this since I was 10 years old," said @ShepMatt, who was named play-by-play announcer for @tigers telecasts on FOX Sports Detroit. #Tigers pic.twitter.com/ta6KTP4CGs

Shepard, 53, became a fixture on the Detroit sports scene long before his Tigers play-by-play turn, doing everything from college football and basketball to Pistons games and Lions preseason broadcasts. He also filled in for Impemba on Tigers telecasts earlier in the season. Add in studio work all over FSD's broadcasts and a morning radio show on WDFN and other stations across Michigan, and Shepard has a well-earned reputation for his tireless work ethic. He has been the radio play-by-play voice of University of Michigan basketball for more than a decade, along with Eastern Michigan University football.

Shepard was honored with the Ty Tyson Award for Excellence in Sports Broadcasting by Detroit Sports Media last summer. He's a two-time Michigan Sportscaster of the Year as selected by the Michigan Sports Broadcasters Association, and a two-time Michigan Sports Emmy Award winner.

The Tigers job is the pinnacle.

"It means everything to me," Shepard said. "This is the greatest honor I've ever had in my broadcasting career, by far. When [FSD executive producer Jeff Byle] offered me the job, we hugged. It was emotional. I cried."

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

Detroit Tigers

How MLB.com writers voted in HOF balloting

MLB.com

Six MLB.com writers were among those eligible to cast ballots in the 2019 Hall of Fame vote conducted by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

• Complete Hall of Fame coverage

Six MLB.com writers were among those eligible to cast ballots in the 2019 Hall of Fame vote conducted by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

• Complete Hall of Fame coverage

As many as four candidates -- and possibly more -- could be elected, according to the public ballots amassed online. Here's a look at how the six voted, and at the bottom you can see what the totals look like among this group:

T.R. Sullivan
1. Barry Bonds
2. Roger Clemens
3. Roy Halladay
4. Edgar Martinez
5. Fred McGriff
6. Mike Mussina
7. Mariano Rivera
8. Billy Wagner
9. Larry Walker
10. Michael Young

There are many offensive players who could/should be elected based on their career numbers. I strongly believe McGriff is unfairly overlooked because he was one of the last great hitters before the offensive explosion of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Mussina also thrived as a starting pitcher in the American League right in the thick of that era. It should not have taken him this long to be elected. I'm not big on comparables, but Wagner was every good as a reliever as Rivera or Trevor Hoffman.

Mark Feinsand
1. Barry Bonds
2. Roger Clemens
3. Roy Halladay
4. Edgar Martinez
5. Mike Mussina
6. Manny Ramirez
7. Mariano Rivera
8. Curt Schilling
9. Gary Sheffield
10. Omar Vizquel

Three of the players I voted for a year ago -- Vladimir Guerrero, Chipper Jones and Jim Thome -- were inducted into the Hall, so the holdovers (Bonds, Clemens, Edgar, Mussina, Manny, Schilling and Sheffield) took up the first seven spots on my ballot.

That left me with up to three open spots to fill. Rivera was an obvious choice for one of them in his first time on the ballot, as was Halladay, who, despite a modest win total (203), was one of the most dominant pitchers of his generation. Although I delved into their statistics to confirm what I already knew, these two were no-brainers.

Video: Roy Halladay's case for the Hall of Fame

The final spot was a little more difficult. After a first examination of the 26 players, I narrowed down my choice to Todd Helton, Andruw Jones, Jeff Kent, Fred McGriff, Andy Pettitte, Scott Rolen, Vizquel, Larry Walker and Vernon Wells. (OK, Wells wasn't really on my list, but he was one of my favorite players I ever covered, so I considered using my last spot for him for about 30 seconds.)

Although I probably would have voted for five or six of these players had the ballot been open-ended and without the 10-man limit, my choice ultimately came down to two: Pettitte and Vizquel.

Pettitte is viewed by many as a borderline candidate, a take I can't argue with. While his candidacy might be seen differently by voters, I think he belongs in the conversation. (Based on my voting history, I'm obviously not holding his HGH admission against him.) Having seen similar players such as Jorge Posada, Kenny Lofton and Johan Santana fall off the ballot in their first years, I considered voting for Pettitte in an effort to help him get the requisite 5 percent for him to be on the ballot again next year.

Ultimately, Vizquel's excellence in the field (he took home 11 Gold Gloves and is in the conversation as the best defensive shortstop ever) won out. He might not have been an offensive force, but Vizquel was far from an automatic out, finishing his career with 2,877 hits. Pettitte had a great career and will likely be in the mix for my vote again next year, but my belief that Vizquel should be in the Hall outweighed my hopes of seeing Pettitte remain on the ballot.

Jeffrey Flanagan
1. Barry Bonds
2. Roger Clemens
3. Roy Halladay
4. Andruw Jones
5. Edgar Martinez
6. Mike Mussina
7. Manny Ramirez
8. Mariano Rivera
9. Curt Schilling
10. Larry Walker

It was difficult leaving off McGriff and Rolen, but we only get 10 spots, which is why I've always favored a binary system -- simply yes or no to each candidate. As for the PED issue, my stance hasn't really changed: If what they did (or didn't) do is so egregious, the Hall of Fame should take those players off the ballot. Don't make us be the morality judges.

Video: MLB Network debates Bonds, Clemens' merits for HOF

Richard Justice
1. Barry Bonds
2. Roger Clemens
3. Roy Halladay
4. Edgar Martinez
5. Mike Mussina
6. Mariano Rivera
7. Scott Rolen
8. Curt Schilling
9. Billy Wagner
10. Larry Walker

Easy calls on nine of the 10. All belong in the Hall. As for Wagner, he's one of greatest closers ever, and if they're part of the game (same for DHs), the best of them should be in the Hall. I didn't like leaving off Andruw Jones, Todd Helton, Jeff Kent, Omar Vizquel, Andy Pettitte, Manny Ramirez and Gary Sheffield, who at least deserve to be in the conversation longer.

Jon Paul Morosi
1. Barry Bonds
2. Roger Clemens
3. Roy Halladay
4. Edgar Martinez
5. Fred McGriff
6. Mike Mussina
7. Mariano Rivera
8. Scott Rolen
9. Curt Schilling
10. Larry Walker

I voted for Bonds and Clemens, as I have every year. For now, at least, my policy regarding players tied to PED use remains unchanged: I do not vote for players suspended under MLB's drug policy from 2005 to present, but I support the best all-around players from the complicated era that preceded it.

Rivera is one of the clearest first-ballot Hall of Famers in history, and Halladay's dominant peak (in a hitter-friendly ballpark, against AL East competition) makes him worthy of the Hall. McGriff, overlooked for far too long, hit more home runs -- with a better adjusted OPS -- than first-ballot Hall of Famers Dave Winfield and Carl Yastrzemski; McGriff is eminently qualified for Cooperstown.

My toughest decision came among Rolen, Vizquel and Sheffield for the last of my 10 spots. I opted for Rolen, given the overall quality of his career, at a position underrepresented in the Hall. Rolen is one of only three third basemen in history with at least seven Gold Gloves and seven All-Star appearances. The others are Brooks Robinson and Mike Schmidt.

Video: MLB Network on Edgar Martinez's case for the HOF

Chris Haft
1. Barry Bonds
2. Roger Clemens
3. Roy Halladay
4. Jeff Kent
5. Edgar Martinez
6. Mike Mussina
7. Mariano Rivera
8. Curt Schilling
9. Omar Vizquel
10. Larry Walker

Rivera's career forestalls debate. And if you feel free to vote for closers, you should feel free to vote for other specialists, such as Martinez the designated hitter. I dismounted my moral high horse regarding Bonds and Clemens two or three years ago. I needed some persuasion to vote for Walker; by contrast, I remained stubbornly loyal to Kent. Mussina embodied consistency; Schilling dominated the postseason and Halladay finished 98 games above .500 in just 390 starts. As for Vizquel, I pity those who can't or won't comprehend his excellence.

Vote totals of the 6 MLB.com writers

With 75 percent of the vote needed for entry to the Hall, Bonds, Martinez, Rivera, Mussina, Clemens, Halladay, Schilling and Walker received enough support -- the first six appearing on all six ballots, and the other two appearing on five of six ballots (83 percent) -- from MLB.com writers.

Barry Bonds -- 6 votes
Roger Clemens -- 6
Roy Halladay -- 6
Edgar Martinez -- 6
Mike Mussina -- 6
Mariano Rivera -- 6
Curt Schilling -- 5
Larry Walker -- 5
Fred McGriff -- 2
Manny Ramirez -- 2
Scott Rolen -- 2
Omar Vizquel -- 2
Billy Wagner -- 2
Andruw Jones -- 1
Jeff Kent -- 1
Gary Sheffield -- 1
Michael Young -- 1

Mize among MLB's best RHP prospects

MLB.com @JimCallisMLB

MLB Pipeline will unveil its 2019 Top 100 Prospects list with a one-hour show on MLB Network and MLB.com on Saturday, Jan. 26, at 8 p.m. ET. Leading up to the release, we look at baseball's top 10 prospects at each position.

When it comes to right-handed pitching prospects -- well, pitching prospects who throw with either hand -- there's Forrest Whitley and then there's everyone else.

MLB Pipeline will unveil its 2019 Top 100 Prospects list with a one-hour show on MLB Network and MLB.com on Saturday, Jan. 26, at 8 p.m. ET. Leading up to the release, we look at baseball's top 10 prospects at each position.

When it comes to right-handed pitching prospects -- well, pitching prospects who throw with either hand -- there's Forrest Whitley and then there's everyone else.

The Astros' 2016 first-round pick has rated as the best pitching prospect in the Minors since the start of last season and, naturally, headlines MLB Pipeline's rankings of the best righty prospects at the start of 2019. He's one of six repeaters from our list of top 10 right-handers a year ago. Of the others, Shohei Ohtani and Walker Buehler graduated to the big leagues, while Alex Reyes (Cardinals) and Triston McKenzie (Indians) just missed the Top 10.

Video: Top Prospects: Forest Whitley, RHP, Astros

Though prep right-handers are considered the riskiest demographic in the Draft, it's interesting to note that six members of our Top 10 were selected out of high school: Whitley, Michael Kopech (White Sox), Mitch Keller (Pirates), Dylan Cease (White Sox), Mike Soroka (Braves) and Hunter Greene (Reds). A seventh, Sixto Sanchez (Phillies), signed at age 16 out of the Dominican Republic.

Top 10 Prospects by Position

The Top 10 (ETA)
1. Forrest Whitley, Astros (2019)
2. Casey Mize, Tigers (2020)
3. Michael Kopech, White Sox (2020)
4. Mitch Keller, Pirates (2019)
5. Dylan Cease, White Sox (2019)
6. Mike Soroka, Braves (2019)
7. Sixto Sanchez, Phillies (2020)
8. Brent Honeywell, Rays (2019)
9. Kyle Wright, Braves (2019)
10. Hunter Greene, Reds (2021)
Complete list »

Top Tools

Best Fastball: Kopech, Greene (80)
Kopech often climbs above 100 mph with late running action on his fastball, while Greene reached triple digits more easily than any high school pitcher ever and hit 103 during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game last July. Both ended the 2018 season on the shelf with elbow injuries, however, with Kopech requiring Tommy John surgery and Greene getting shut down with a sprain before returning to the mound in mid-December.

Video: Top Prospects: Hunter Greene, RHP, Reds

Best Curveball: Cease (65)
Cease was MLB Pipeline's 2018 Pitcher of the Year after going 12-2 with a 2.40 ERA and ranking fifth in the Minors in opponent average (.189) and eighth in strikeout rate (11.6 per nine innings). He has a hammer curveball with depth and power, and hitters can't try to sit on it because he can blow them away with a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and reaches triple digits.

Video: Top Prospects: Dylan Cease, RHP, White Sox

Best Slider: Kopech (65)
Like his fellow White Sox pitching prospect Cease, Kopech backs up an electric fastball with a nasty breaking pitch. He gets two-plane break on a slider that sits in the mid-80s and approaches 90 mph, a big reason why he has averaged 11.6 strikeouts per nine innings in pro ball.

Video: Top Prospects: Michael Kopech, RHP, White Sox

Best Changeup: Whitley (65)
Whitley can miss bats with four different pitches, including a devastating changeup with fade and depth that plays extremely well off his 93-98 mph fastball. It has helped him dominate left-handers as a pro, limiting them to a .196/.284/.275 line in three pro seasons.

Best Other Pitch: Mize (70)
Mize was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 Draft and signed for $7.5 million, the second-largest bonus in Draft history. One of the attributes that made him so coveted by pro teams was his mid-80s splitter, which dives at the plate and serves as his changeup.

Video: Top Prospects: Casey Mize, RHP, Tigers

Best Control: Mize, Soroka, Sanchez, Honeywell (60)
Soroka has exceedingly advanced control and command for a young pitcher, which helped him reach the big leagues at age 20 last May. Mize also scores well in both categories, leading NCAA Division I with a 12.1 K/BB ratio in 2017 and ranking fifth with a 9.8 mark in 2018.

Video: Top Prospects: Mike Soroka, RHP, Braves

Superlatives

Highest Ceiling: Whitley
Whitley has a 93-98 mph fastball with natural life, a pair of high-spin breaking pitches and a dastardly changeup. He's one of just five high school first-rounders this millennium to advance to Double-A during his first full pro season, joining a select group that also includes Zack Greinke, Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw and Dylan Bundy. He still needs to upgrade his command but looks like a future Cy Young Award winner.

Highest Floor: Mize
Mize had the best combination of stuff and polish in the 2018 Draft and the same is arguably true in the Minors. Besides his unhittable splitter, he also throws a 92-97 mph fastball with running life and a plus mid-80s slider that he can transform into a cutter when he wants.

Rookie of the Year Candidate: Soroka
Only two of these right-handers have had success in Triple-A, and one of them is Honeywell, who missed all of 2018 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. That leaves Soroka, who had his moments with the Braves before getting shut down with shoulder soreness in mid-June. He's healthy again and the most talented of the youngsters who'll compete for the fifth spot in Atlanta's rotation.

Highest Riser: Cease
With the exception of Mize, who was a junior at Auburn, all of the other nine righties on this list entered last season as Top 100 Prospects. Cease ranked lowest among them at No. 61, in part because he had worked just 162 innings in three years after having Tommy John surgery coming out of high school, but he eased concerns about his durability with his spectacular 2018 performance.

Humblest Beginning: Sanchez
Of the nine drafted pitchers on this list, the lowest selection and bonus belong to Honeywell -- and he was a supplemental second-rounder who signed for $800,000. By contrast, the Phillies stumbled upon Sanchez when he was throwing batting practice at a workout for Cuban catcher Lednier Ricardo in 2014 and snapped him up for $35,000.

Video: Top Prospects: Sixto Sanchez, RHP, Phillies

Most To Prove: Honeywell
Honeywell seemed like a lock for the Rays rotation after a strong 2017 season, during which he was MVP of the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game and helped Durham win the Triple-A national championship. Then he blew out his elbow while throwing batting practice early last spring, requiring Tommy John surgery in February that cost him all of 2018.

Video: Top Prospects: Brent Honeywell, RHP, Rays

Keep An Eye On: Luis Patino, Padres
As if baseball's best farm system wasn't already overflowing with talented right-handers, the Padres have another one in Patino, signed for $120,000 out of Colombia in 2014. He has a mid-90s fastball that peaks at 99 mph, a pair of power breaking balls in his slider and curveball and a developing yet promising changeup.

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

Stewart looking to build off callup with Tigers

No. 6 prospect impressed with potent bat, strong defense in left field
MLB.com @beckjason

Christin Stewart began 2018 in Minor League camp, without an invitation to Spring Training with the Major League club. He ended the year batting second in the Tigers' lineup for much of the stretch run as a September callup.

The 25-year-old outfielder finally had a chance to take it all in this offseason.

Christin Stewart began 2018 in Minor League camp, without an invitation to Spring Training with the Major League club. He ended the year batting second in the Tigers' lineup for much of the stretch run as a September callup.

The 25-year-old outfielder finally had a chance to take it all in this offseason.

"I reflected a little bit after the season, took a little time to decompress," Stewart said during last week's MLB Rookie Career Development Program. "I just thought back to how far I've come from the Draft in 2015. Made a stop at every single level, even the [Rookie-level] GCL."

Stewart, ranked as the club's No. 6 prospect by MLB Pipeline, made all of those stops over his three and a half seasons since the Tigers used their compensation pick at the end of the first round on him in the 2015 MLB Draft. The deliberate path up the club's farm system was a patient approach by the organization to make sure he went through struggles and learned from them at each step, both at the plate and in the field. That included last summer at Triple-A Toledo, where he cooled off from his hot start before experiencing a midseason resurgence.

Stewart looked like a polished, mature hitter when he finally got the call last September, batting .267 (16-for-60) with two home runs, 10 RBIs and nearly as many walks (10) as strikeouts (13).

The first of those hits was a single in his first Major League start Sept. 10 against former Tigers ace Justin Verlander.

"It was pretty cool," Stewart admitted. "That's a guy that I kind of wanted to hit off of, but he was with the Tigers at the time. I never had the chance to face him [in camp]. But hey, my first start, faced him and got a knock, so that's pretty cool."

Stewart also handled left field relatively well, answering some questions about his defense.

"Just looking back on how far I've come, because I didn't really play outfield until I got to college, and that was only three years," Stewart said. "Just everybody with the Tigers, all the rovers, all the coaches that helped me along the way, it's been great."

Now that Stewart has reached the big leagues, with a regular role in left field as his to win in Spring Training next month, he isn't done learning.

"There's a ton of parts to my game I try to get better at each year, each offseason, stuff that I can tweak during the season if it starts feeling any different," Stewart said. "I've made adjustments. I've tried to drop my strikeout rate, get some more walks here and there, even though I've walked a good bit, get my RBIs up, just trying to do all the team stuff, just trying to improve all my offensive game."

The Rookie Career Development Program has been a partnership between Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association since 1992, designed to help future Major Leaguers avoid the pitfalls that prevent some from focusing on their game. Players interact with each other and with former big leaguers on such topics as dealing with the media, handling situations in the clubhouse, drugs in baseball, inclusion and financial planning.

No. 30 prospect Spencer Turnbull joined Stewart at the event in Miami, as did No. 10 prospect Willi Castro and No. 11 Dustin Peterson. Turnbull was also a September callup last year, while Peterson and Castro -- both acquired last summer -- head into Spring Training in strong position for in-season callups.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

Detroit Tigers, Christin Stewart

Rogers named to 2019 All-Defense Team

MLB.com @JonathanMayo

While the evaluation of prospects is still very much a subjective exercise, there is more and more data, and more people interpreting that information, to help in assessing talent. But most of that has come on the offensive side of the game.

Defensive metrics have come a long way, but there is a general consensus they provide less certainty at this point than their counterparts for hitting. So when asking scouts about the top fielding prospects in baseball, the opinions, even about the same player, can vary greatly.

While the evaluation of prospects is still very much a subjective exercise, there is more and more data, and more people interpreting that information, to help in assessing talent. But most of that has come on the offensive side of the game.

Defensive metrics have come a long way, but there is a general consensus they provide less certainty at this point than their counterparts for hitting. So when asking scouts about the top fielding prospects in baseball, the opinions, even about the same player, can vary greatly.

mlb pipeline all defense teams

Even with all of the variables, however, certain players stood out and were mentioned frequently in polls about the top defensive prospects. Braves outfielder Cristian Pache was mentioned more than any other prospect, so he lands on the All-Defense Team for the second year in a row after making the 2018 squad. He, the Nationals' Victor Robles (a three-time All-Defense selection), the Mariners' Evan White and the Tigers' Jake Rogers are all on the team for a second time.

Video: Highlights from MLB Pipeline's 2019 All-Defense Team

Catcher: Jake Rogers, Tigers
While he didn't hit in his first full season with the Tigers after coming over as part of the return from the Astros for Justin Verlander, he continued to show just how good he is behind the dish. Rogers threw out 55.6 percent of potential basestealers in the Double-A Eastern League in 2018. That brings his career mark up to 48.5 percent thanks to his arm strength, quick release and accuracy.

Rogers sets caught stealing mark

"He deserves consideration as the best defensive prospect overall," an American League pro scouting director said. "He's the best defensive catcher by a wide margin."

Top 10 Prospects by Position

First base: Evan White, Mariners
It's rare to have a first baseman mentioned as a contender for best overall defender, but White's name did come up in conversations. He is athletic with outstanding footwork, a plus arm and speed that allows him to have plus range at the position.

"It's game-changing defense at first," one AL scouting executive said. "He makes every defensive player on the field better."

Second base: Nick Madrigal, White Sox
The No. 4 overall pick in the 2018 Draft was known as the most advanced hitter in the class, but he can also flat-out play second base. He actually has the hands and actions for shortstop, and he could see some time there, though it's unclear if his arm will play from that spot. He could be a Gold Glove-caliber defender on the right side of the infield.

Madrigal gets crazy out

Third base: Ke'Bryan Hayes, Pirates
The son of Charlie Hayes, Ke'Bryan entered pro ball as a very talented defender, with great hands and a plus arm. The 2015 first-round pick got even better when he committed himself to conditioning, becoming more athletic and agile and adding plus range to his overall outstanding defensive toolset.

Shortstop: Andres Gimenez, Mets
Gimenez reached Double-A as a teenager, partially because of an advanced approach at the plate, but also because of his glovework at the premium position. He has the hands, arms, range and internal clock to play the position long-term, even if he has to slide over to second in deference to Amed Rosario.

Outfield: Cristian Pache, Braves
Pache was on the list a year ago thanks to his reputation of having plus range (thanks to his speed and tremendous instincts) to go along with a strong arm in the lower Minors. Not only did he make it to Double-A in 2018, but he really got to show off his defensive chops in front of all 30 teams in the Arizona Fall League. He is smooth and confident, and most feel he's ready for the big leagues defensively right now.

"He's a potential 70 grade defender in center field, where every aspect of his defense is an asset," another AL scouting executive said. "A true ball-hawking, gap-closing center fielder who plays with a reckless abandon to go along with a plus arm. He has a rare combination of athleticism and instincts for the position; he can really slow the game down."

Watch: MiLB Video

Outfield: Victor Robles, Nationals
While 2018 was in many ways a lost season for Robles -- he played in just 73 games between the Minors and Washington -- that did nothing to diminish his abilities in center field. If Pache has nominally become the No. 1 pick in the defensive prospect camp, no one would complain about getting Robles' plus arm and range at No. 2. "Robles is one of the more special outfielders I've seen," the AL pro scouting director said.

Video: WSH@ATL: Robles uses his legs to rob Albies

Outfield: Buddy Reed, Padres
Like the other two outfielders on this list, Reed has the somewhat rare combination of center field ability to go along with a plus arm. He racked up 12 assists in 2018 thanks to that arm and he showed off his range on a national stage, robbing his organization-mate Fernando Tatis Jr. with a spectacular catch in the Futures Game.

Video: WLD@USA: Reed wired up, makes great grab at the wall

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

Who will still be with Tigers in 2025?

MLB.com @williamfleitch

The 2013 season doesn't seem that long ago, does it? It seems like it just happened. (The passage of time is a crazy thing.) But in the world of baseball, it was a long, long time ago. How long? Look at the top 10 hitters and the top 10 pitchers in WAR in '13. Of those 10 hitters and 10 pitchers, only two players on each list (Mike Trout and Joey Votto among the hitters, Clayton Kershaw and Adam Wainwright among the pitchers) are still on the same teams they were just six years ago. That is an astounding amount of turnover, and reminds us how difficult it can be to predict the future.

Nevertheless: Let's try. Today at the Thirty, we attempt to pick the one player on each team's current 40-man roster who is most likely to still be on that roster in six years. Sticking to the current roster raises the level of difficulty. Otherwise, I could just pick Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the Blue Jays, and every other team's top prospect, and be done with it. For this list, you have to be here now and in 2025. The crazy thing about this experiment of guesses: There will be multiple, maybe double-digit, teams that have none.

The 2013 season doesn't seem that long ago, does it? It seems like it just happened. (The passage of time is a crazy thing.) But in the world of baseball, it was a long, long time ago. How long? Look at the top 10 hitters and the top 10 pitchers in WAR in '13. Of those 10 hitters and 10 pitchers, only two players on each list (Mike Trout and Joey Votto among the hitters, Clayton Kershaw and Adam Wainwright among the pitchers) are still on the same teams they were just six years ago. That is an astounding amount of turnover, and reminds us how difficult it can be to predict the future.

Nevertheless: Let's try. Today at the Thirty, we attempt to pick the one player on each team's current 40-man roster who is most likely to still be on that roster in six years. Sticking to the current roster raises the level of difficulty. Otherwise, I could just pick Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the Blue Jays, and every other team's top prospect, and be done with it. For this list, you have to be here now and in 2025. The crazy thing about this experiment of guesses: There will be multiple, maybe double-digit, teams that have none.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

EAST

Blue Jays: Danny Jansen, C
Unlike Vlad Jr. and Bo Bichette, he's already on the 40-man roster; he hit three homers in 81 at-bats last season. Like them, he's currently a top-75 prospect.

Orioles: Trey Mancini, OF
The toughest call on the board. The Orioles are starting over in every conceivable way, and there will be a lot of turnover here in the next few years. The guess here is Mancini, who is a fan favorite already and could maybe hang around long enough to be a platoon or bench bat in 2025, when he'll be only 32.

Rays: Willy Adames, SS
Attempting to guess who will be on the Rays' roster in two years, let alone six, is a fool's errand, but Adames is the centerpiece of everything the Rays are going to be trying to do over the next decade.

Red Sox: Mookie Betts, OF
He's a free agent after the 2020 season, but the Red Sox should never let a star like this get away. And he wants to stay

Video: Betts signs record deal to avoid arbitration

Yankees: Giancarlo Stanton, RF
As the guy who is signed through 2027, he's the obvious pick here. Aaron Judge hits free agency in 2023, by the way.

CENTRAL

Indians: Francisco Lindor, SS
It's tough to imagine the Indians letting Lindor go … though they may have to choose between him and Jose Ramirez.

Video: Lindor gets his second career Silver Slugger Award

Royals: Salvador Perez, C
He survived the last teardown. He's their Yadier Molina -- he'll survive any future ones.

Tigers: Jeimer Candelario, 3B
He's more likely than anyone else here to be a member of the next contending Tigers team.

Twins: Max Kepler, OF
Kepler feels like the type of player the Twins would come to some sort of modest, Paul DeJong-esque extension with, doesn't he?

White Sox: Yoan Moncada, 2B
With any luck, Eloy Jimenez will be there right alongside him.

WEST

Angels: Mike Trout, OF
Put it this way: If Mike Trout isn't on the 2025 Angels, everything about that franchise is radically different than it is right now.

Video: Guardado on the latest between Angels and Trout

Astros: Jose Altuve, 2B
Alex Bregman seems like the most likely extension candidate -- Altuve's deal runs out after the 2024 season -- but the Altuve-Astros relationship feels like one that shouldn't be broken.

Athletics: Matt Chapman, 3B
The ideal extension candidate, Chapman could be the face of the franchise whenever it moves into its new digs.

Mariners: Justus Sheffield, LHP
He made his debut in September, so he's on the Mariners' 40-man, even if he might not start the season in the Majors.

Rangers: Rougned Odor, 2B
He, Elvis Andrus and Joey Gallo will be free agents following the 2022 season. Here's betting Odor is the one who sticks around, if anybody does.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

EAST

Braves: Ronald Acuna Jr.
He'll actually reach free agency after the 2024 season, if you are counting the days. (That's to say: If you're every other team in baseball.)

Video: Snitker on best lineup spot for Acuna Jr. in 2019

Marlins: Lewis Brinson, OF
Considering he remains the primary haul from their trades last offseason, Brinson will get every possible opportunity to prove himself.

Mets: Brandon Nimmo, OF
Though maybe only because first base slugging prospect Peter Alonso isn't on the 40-man yet.

Nationals: Juan Soto, OF
If the Nationals don't extend him, he'll hit the free-agent market with Acuna.

Phillies: Rhys Hoskins, 1B
This answer could very well change depending on how free agency shakes out this offseason.

CENTRAL

Brewers: Josh Hader, LHP
Yes, yes, he's a reliever, but still: He seems like one of the few relievers on earth worthy of talking long-term, under-market extension with, yes?

Cardinals: Paul DeJong, SS
The extension he signed last year gives the Cardinals team options on him in both 2024 and '25, and if he keeps playing like he has been, they'll happily pick them both up. (It's also possible the answer here is Yadier Molina, and may be through 2035.)

Cubs: Kris Bryant, 3B
This will be the most-watched are-they-gonna-extend-him-soon? story in baseball over the next couple of years.

Video: Kris Bryant is the No. 8 third baseman right now

Pirates: Mitch Keller, RHP
He's already on the 40-man, and he might be the best pitcher in an already underrated rotation by season's end.

Reds: Eugenio Suarez, 3B
He's signed through 2024, and the Reds have a club option on him for '25. Also, top prospect Nick Senzel isn't on the 40-man yet.

WEST

D-backs: Ketel Marte, SS
He's already got options for 2023 and '24, and he'll just be into his 30s when the D-backs have to make their next decision on him. Newly acquired catcher Carson Kelly could be the answer here as well.

Dodgers: Corey Seager, SS
Isn't right now the perfect time to start talking extension with Seager?

Giants: Buster Posey, C
As long as Posey is still playing, he'll be a Giant … right, Farhan?

Padres: Franmil Reyes, OF
It's tough to even imagine this kid being 30 someday.

Rockies: Nolan Arenado, 3B
They did a mega-extension with Charlie Blackmon last offseason, so they are clearly willing to go that route. Arenado is eligible for free agency next winter, so we'll find out his long-term fate pretty soon.

Video: Arenado seeks record $30 million in arbitration

Will Leitch is a columnist for MLB.com.

Healthy Miggy would be boost for Tigers

Prospect callups, injury returns can equal impact of a star free agent
MLB.com @mattkellyMLB

With so much focus on the free-agent market and trade winds, it can be easy to forget about the other players whose first games will be worth paying just as much attention to next season. The marketplace is one way for teams to improve, but sometimes the answers can be found right within a club's own roster.

Diverting from the Hot Stove for just a second, here's a mix of veterans and rookies we're looking forward to seeing just as much in 2019.

With so much focus on the free-agent market and trade winds, it can be easy to forget about the other players whose first games will be worth paying just as much attention to next season. The marketplace is one way for teams to improve, but sometimes the answers can be found right within a club's own roster.

Diverting from the Hot Stove for just a second, here's a mix of veterans and rookies we're looking forward to seeing just as much in 2019.

Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
You can be forgiven if Miggy slipped off your radar for a while; most of his 2018 highlights came in either bitter cold temperatures or dreadful rain, and a torn bicep ended his season by mid-June. But since it's been a while, it's worth a reminder that Cabrera was as lethal as ever in many ways at the plate -- even if the homers were slow to come. Here's where some of Cabrera's contact metrics stood among qualified hitters by the time he tore that bicep tendon on June 12.

• 54.6 percent hard-hit rate (6th)
• 98.1 mph average line drive/fly ball exit velocity (T-17th)
• .315 expected batting average (T-8th)

Cabrera should be back in the Tigers' Opening Day lineup, and while he'll be entering his age-36 season, Detroit is hoping Cabrera can stay on the field enough to showcase that significant talent still left in his bat.

Corey Seager, Dodgers
Here's another big name who's been off the grid for a while, especially after the incredibly deep Dodgers managed to reach the World Series even without one of their bona fide stars. A quick refresher: Seager's 134 league-adjusted OPS+ in 2016 tied for the highest by a rookie shortstop in modern history, and his '17 season was nearly as good despite some elbow issues.

Video: LAD@SF: Seager hammers 2-run homer to right

We just saw Gleyber Torres come back from Tommy John surgery and make an immediate impact for the Yankees. Fangraphs' Steamer projections are similarly optimistic about Seager -- likely due back in May -- believing he'll be somewhere between a 5- to 6-WAR player. The Dodgers might still wind up signing Bryce Harper or trading for J.T. Realmuto, but getting a healthy Seager back in the lineup would be just as impactful.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Blue Jays
There might be no better reflection of the excitement surrounding Guerrero than his Steamer projection, which places him between Aaron Judge and Nolan Arenado among the 20 or so best players by WAR in 2019. Projections are typically conservative, but that's just how much MLB's top prospect has raked in the Minors. Guerrero's OPS hasn't finished below .800 at any level, and his strikeout rate has never risen above 13.4 percent -- still nearly 10 points below the Major League average last season.

Video: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. looks to impress in the Majors

We don't know exactly when Guerrero will make his Major League debut, but his first big league at-bat figures to be one of the biggest moments on the 2019 calendar.

Eloy Jimenez, White Sox
Baseball's No. 3 prospect isn't far behind Guerrero in terms of his prodigious skill with the bat. Jimenez was promoted to Triple-A Charlotte last June and proceeded to hit .355, compile a .996 OPS and knock 12 homers in 228 plate appearances, ramping up expectations on the South Side for the White Sox biggest piece from their Jose Quintana trade with the Cubs.

"We're hoping that this young man's career for us is going to be one of those future impact guys," White Sox manager Rick Renteria told Baseball America last month. "I don't want to call him a Hall of Famer, because that's a lot to put on a kid's plate, but he has the skill set to potentially be a very, very impactful frontline Major League player."

Jimenez probably could have made it to the big leagues last September, but the White Sox outfield figures to get a lot more potent whenever he arrives this spring. Perhaps Jimenez and Guerrero could give the American League its own version of last summer's thrilling Rookie of the Year race between Ronald Acuna Jr. and Juan Soto.

Video: Cassavell on the excitement around Tatis Jr.

Fernando Tatis Jr. and Luis Urias, Padres
It's not every day that a team can envision the middle of its infield fortified by two top-50 prospects, but that's the enviable situation San Diego finds itself in with MLB Pipeline's top-ranked prospects at shortstop and second base. Tatis and Urias are 20 and 21, respectively, so they'll take their lumps. But with everything pointing toward 2020 and beyond, Padres fans have to be excited to see two significant pieces of the team's future step closer toward the present.

Jimmy Nelson, Brewers
Milwaukee got within one game of its first World Series appearance since the Reagan administration, and it did so with a new-age mix of bullpenning and diamond-in-the-rough starters like Jhoulys Chacin and Wade Miley. But here's the type of ace the Brewers hope can step back into the fold this year:

Nelson's ranks among qualified NL starters, 2017

ERA: 8th
FIP: 3rd
K-BB%: 7th
WAR: 4th

Nelson became a breakout ace, but unfortunately his shoulder injury took him away much too quickly. Nelson's rehab went slower than expected last summer, but if he can break camp atop the Brewers' depth chart, he represents a huge boost to their hopes of repeating in the NL Central.

Video: Reyes on returning from elbow surgery

Alex Reyes, Cardinals
This is almost a copy-paste from last year at this time, when Cardinals fans were anxious for Reyes to return from Tommy John surgery and slot in as either a lights-out closer or electric starter. His first game back in 2018 didn't go according to plan, as his velocity dipped after three innings and he wound up needing more surgery for a torn lat. But there's still reasons to be optimistic with Reyes: He hit 97.7 mph in that May 30 start against Milwaukee, and the Brewers were late on many of their swings before his velocity dropped. If Reyes can find that easy gas again and stay on the field, this righty could boost several areas of the Cardinals' pitching staff depending on how they decide to use him.

Michael Pineda, Twins
It's hard to overlook the fact that Pineda has pitched just 89 games since he made the All-Star team as a rookie in 2011, but the big right-hander is cleared for Spring Training and has a chance for his first healthy season in years. There's a lot to unlock if Pineda can take the mound: As MLB.com's Andrew Simon pointed out, he's ranked among the game's upper echelon at missing bats and limiting walks even in his more injury-riddled times as a big leaguer.

Video: CHC@CIN: Darvish strikes out 7, limits Reds to 1 run

Yu Darvish, Cubs
Darvish's injury-riddled 2018 had ripple effects across Chicago's roster: The Cubs picked up Cole Hamels' $20 million option this offseason partly as insurance in case Darvish gets hurt again, and that might have kept them financially hamstrung for shopping sprees like the Harper sweepstakes. But a full-strength season from Darvish would be just as beneficial for the North Siders as picking up Harper. Darvish is a dominant staff leader when he's right (a reminder that he's on pace to be one of the game's all-time strikeout-per-nine innings leaders), and the Cubs need him to be that pitcher more than ever with Hamels and Jon Lester continuing to age.

Darvish says he's ready for Spring Training and 2019, and Chicago fans have roughly 101 million remaining reasons to hope he's right.

Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.

Tigers avoid arbitration with Boyd, Castellanos

Club also reaches 1-year deals with Norris, Hardy; no agreement with Fulmer
MLB.com @beckjason

DETROIT -- The Tigers could be headed to their first arbitration hearing since 2001, though they took care of a quartet of potential cases on Friday. The club reached agreements on one-year deals with right fielder Nicholas Castellanos and pitchers Matthew Boyd, Daniel Norris and Blaine Hardy.

That leaves right-hander Michael Fulmer as the lone arbitration-eligible player without a contract, as the two sides prepared to exchange salary proposals at Friday's deadline. The Tigers have not been part of the trend of "file-and-trial" teams that end negotiations once numbers are exchanged, but this could be the year that changes.

DETROIT -- The Tigers could be headed to their first arbitration hearing since 2001, though they took care of a quartet of potential cases on Friday. The club reached agreements on one-year deals with right fielder Nicholas Castellanos and pitchers Matthew Boyd, Daniel Norris and Blaine Hardy.

That leaves right-hander Michael Fulmer as the lone arbitration-eligible player without a contract, as the two sides prepared to exchange salary proposals at Friday's deadline. The Tigers have not been part of the trend of "file-and-trial" teams that end negotiations once numbers are exchanged, but this could be the year that changes.

Boyd will make $2.6 million, a source confirmed to MLB.com, after qualifying for arbitration as a Super Two-eligible player. Normally players must have three full seasons of service time to qualify for arbitration, but the top 22 percent of players in terms of service time between two and three seasons qualify as "Super Two." Boyd made the cutoff by two days after sticking in the Tigers' rotation for the entire 2018 season.

Not only did Boyd stick -- he was arguably Detroit's most effective starter, posting a 9-13 record and 4.39 ERA while allowing just 146 hits over 170 1/3 innings. His 7.714 hits per nine innings ranked 10th among qualified American League starters.

Video: Matthew Boyd on 2018 season, looking ahead to '19

Norris will make $1.275 million according to a source, after splitting last season between a swing role on the Tigers' staff and a disabled list stint due to left groin surgery. He posted an 0-5 record and 5.68 ERA in eight starts and three relief appearances, but first-time arbitration-eligible players are judged on their career numbers to date rather than just the most recent season. The 25-year-old is 12-17 with a 4.56 ERA, 4.41 FIP and 8.2 strikeouts per nine innings over parts of five seasons, including three-plus years in Detroit.

Hardy, who is arbitration-eligible for the second time, reached agreement on a one-year, $1.3 million contract. The 31-year-old lefty found a full-time role on Detroit's pitching staff after being outrighted to Triple-A Toledo in Spring Training. He ended up making 13 starts and 17 relief appearances, posting a 4-5 record and 3.56 ERA over 86 innings.

The Tigers and Castellanos avoided arbitration on the evening of deadline day for a second consecutive year, this time with a $9.95 million salary. The 26-year-old batted .298 with 23 home runs, 89 RBIs and an .854 OPS, becoming the focal point of the lineup with Miguel Cabrera out.

• Inbox: Why is Castellanos a hot trade topic?

Castellanos is in his third and final year of arbitration before he can qualify for free agency next offseason. The Tigers publicly entertained the idea of a contract extension last offseason, but that quieted this offseason as trade talks heated up.

By avoiding an arbitration hearing with Castellanos next month, the Tigers might have helped their chances of trading him, having set a salary for the season that gives potential suitors certainty on how much he'll make.

Like Boyd, Fulmer qualified for arbitration as a Super Two player, sticking in the big leagues since making his debut on April 29, 2016. He won AL Rookie of the Year Award honors that year, and Fulmer was an AL All-Star the next before a knee injury limited him to 24 starts last year, when the righty posted a 3-12 record and 4.69 ERA, holding opponents to 128 hits over 132 1/3 innings with 46 walks and 110 strikeouts.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

Detroit Tigers, Matthew Boyd, Blaine Hardy, Daniel Norris

Inbox: Why is Castellanos hot trade topic?

Beat reporter Jason Beck answers Tigers fans' questions
MLB.com @beckjason

DETROIT -- Though the weather in Michigan so far this offseason has felt like last April did, it'll eventually freeze up, leaving us longing for Opening Day. The good news is that the Tigers' first Spring Training workout is less than five weeks away. TigerFest and the Winter Caravan are just two weeks away.

Until then, let's try some Hot Stove talk.

DETROIT -- Though the weather in Michigan so far this offseason has felt like last April did, it'll eventually freeze up, leaving us longing for Opening Day. The good news is that the Tigers' first Spring Training workout is less than five weeks away. TigerFest and the Winter Caravan are just two weeks away.

Until then, let's try some Hot Stove talk.

Why do the Tigers seem intent on trading Nicholas Castellanos? He is the only Tiger right now that you could depend on.
-- Jim G., Houghton Lake, Mich.

Given Castellanos' age -- he doesn't turn 27 years old until March -- you can make the case he's the one veteran Tiger young enough to still be in his prime when Detroit hopes to emerge from this rebuild in 2-3 years. And for all the young talent in the farm system, the Tigers are still searching for that young impact hitter around which to build a lineup. However, Castellanos is a year away from free agency, so those years would come at a price. He's also the one Tiger left who could reasonably bring back quality prospects in a trade, or potentially a Draft pick if the Tigers make him a qualifying offer as a free agent and he signs elsewhere.

:: Submit a question to the Tigers Inbox ::

The roster rebuild model the Tigers (and other Major League teams) are following involves not just accumulating young talent, but also providing a window for them to make a run. Part of that window involves creating the payroll space to add players to that young core when the time is right. While Castellanos isn't at his prime yet as a player and still has room to grow, he's about to hit his prime years in salary. That leaves Detroit with a decision to make, and from all indications, it is leaning against re-signing him.

Video: TOR@DET: Castellanos drills his 4th career grand slam

While the Tigers have been improving their farm system through the Draft, they have not made any splash with regard to international signings. How many dollars do you see them investing in international signings in 2019?
-- Chuck F., Yorktown Heights, N.Y.

The Tigers are allotted the same amount of money for international prospects as every other club. It used to vary based on the previous year's record but that changed a couple years ago, unfortunately for Detroit. The Tigers will spend all of that money, or close to it, but it's how they spend it that varies from other clubs. They tend to spread it out over a bunch of signings rather than go all-out for one or two prospects. Detroit was more aggressive during last July's international signing period and ended up with some top prospects, but the Tigers have had a hard time competing at the top end of the market.

One thing the Tigers haven't done that other clubs have in recent years is trade for international bonus money. If they were more involved in the top-end market, that might be different.

Tweet from @greatmurbinski: What do you project as the Tigers' starting rotation when the season starts?

If everybody's healthy, I'd expect a rotation of Michael Fulmer, Matthew Boyd, Jordan Zimmermann, Matt Moore and Tyson Ross starting out, with Daniel Norris as a potential swingman again and Spencer Turnbull for depth.

Video: Fireballing starter Fulmer could be trade bait

Tweet from @GoddTill: Are the Tigers going to add anyone at C? Martin Maldonado is still out there and he would be a huge boon to a young staff.

If the Tigers sign another catcher, it'll most likely be to a Minor League deal with a non-roster invite. Their plan is to go with Grayson Greiner and John Hicks behind the plate when the season starts.

Video: OAK@DET: Greiner catches Fowler stealing at second

Tweet from @sevrorising_: Any chance that A Wilson gets offered a contract? Miggy for 1B or DH?

The Tigers left the door open to bring Alex Wilson back on a smaller deal if he's still on the market late in the offseason. I'd be surprised if that happens. Even if Wilson doesn't get a Major League deal, he should get a chance to compete for a job in some team's camp. And Wilson indicated last month that, all things being equal, he'd like the chance to land with a potential contender.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

Detroit Tigers, Nicholas Castellanos

Tigers avoid arbitration with closer Greene

MLB.com @beckjason

DETROIT -- The Tigers began to chip away at their arbitration dealings Thursday night, reaching an agreement on a one-year contract with closer Shane Greene.

The deal is worth $4 million, according to two sources with knowledge of the agreement.

DETROIT -- The Tigers began to chip away at their arbitration dealings Thursday night, reaching an agreement on a one-year contract with closer Shane Greene.

The deal is worth $4 million, according to two sources with knowledge of the agreement.

The Tigers have five more arbitration-eligible players with which to try to negotiate deals, including right fielder Nicholas Castellanos and pitchers Blaine Hardy, Michael Fulmer, Matthew Boyd and Daniel Norris. Players and teams who don't reach agreements are scheduled to exchange salary proposals Friday afternoon, with hearings scheduled for early February.

Greene was eligible for arbitration for a second time. The 30-year-old right-hander made $1.95 million last year in his first full season as Tigers closer. Though Greene struggled to a 5.12 ERA thanks in part to allowing 12 home runs over 63 1/3 innings, he still converted 32 saves in 38 opportunities while racking up 65 strikeouts and a 3.42 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Barring a trade or injury, Greene will reprise his closer's role to open the upcoming season, manager Ron Gardenhire confirmed last month.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

Detroit Tigers, Shane Greene

Tigers' streak of 18 arb-free years in jeopardy

Detroit has not had hearing since 2001; Fulmer unsigned
MLB.com @beckjason

DETROIT -- The last time the Tigers went to an arbitration hearing, Randy Smith was the general manager. Al Avila was still in the Marlins' front office back then, as was Dave Dombrowski. The player in question was Chris Holt, a starting pitcher Detroit had just acquired from the Astros in the second Brad Ausmus trade.

That was 2001. After an arbitrator sided with the team's salary offer, Holt pitched one season in Detroit, went to Japan the next year and never pitched in the big leagues again. The Tigers, meanwhile, have stayed out of an arbitration hearing since then, an 18-year streak that encompassed Dombrowski's 14-year tenure as general manager plus the first few seasons of Avila's time as GM.

DETROIT -- The last time the Tigers went to an arbitration hearing, Randy Smith was the general manager. Al Avila was still in the Marlins' front office back then, as was Dave Dombrowski. The player in question was Chris Holt, a starting pitcher Detroit had just acquired from the Astros in the second Brad Ausmus trade.

That was 2001. After an arbitrator sided with the team's salary offer, Holt pitched one season in Detroit, went to Japan the next year and never pitched in the big leagues again. The Tigers, meanwhile, have stayed out of an arbitration hearing since then, an 18-year streak that encompassed Dombrowski's 14-year tenure as general manager plus the first few seasons of Avila's time as GM.

With a half-dozen players eligible for arbitration -- and Michael Fulmer remaining unsigned -- an uptick in arbitration hearings around the game, the Tigers on the rebuild and their longtime negotiator taking a step back from full-time duty, this could be the year that streak is in real jeopardy.

"Obviously we've had -- you can call it a record -- where we've never had to go to arbitration and all that," Avila said during last month's Winter Meetings. "We don't look at it as win and loss."

Friday afternoon marked the deadline for arbitration-eligible players and teams to exchange salary proposals. For an increasing number of teams, this also marks an unofficial deadline for negotiating a one-year deal to avoid arbitration. Known as a "file-and-trial" approach, it essentially puts club and player on a path to a hearing once numbers are exchanged, well before hearings take place in early February.

Detroit has not used this approach, which is one reason why its streak has gone on. In some past cases, team legal counsel John Westhoff used the numbers exchanged as a range with which to find a middle ground in negotiations. The Tigers were on the brink of a hearing with Justin Verlander in 2010 before reaching an agreement on a five-year, $80 million contract.

Even if the Tigers didn't see it as a win-loss scenario, they saw a benefit to signing their arbitration-eligible players without a hearing. In many cases, it brought more cost certainty to their payroll before Spring Training. It also avoided the awkwardness of disparaging a player before an arbitrator, arguing why a player isn't worth the salary he seeks.

Even during the final offseason for Max Scherzer as a Tiger, when negotiations on a long-term deal had a public ending, the two sides negotiated a one-year deal well before that. Scherzer's $15,250,000 deal that season marked the largest raise for a pitcher with five-plus seasons of service time.

"We've avoided it over the years for different reasons," Avila said. "A lot of it had to do with some players that we had that took the offers that we wanted to give them."

Avila isn't disclosing what approach they're taking to arbitration this offseason and whether it has changed, but he acknowledged it has been discussed.

"I think we'll take the avenue that we feel is best for the organization when the time comes," Avila said last month. "Whether it be to keep our streak going or go [to a hearing], I couldn't tell you."

Those discussions have included Westhoff, but he stepped into an advisory role this offseason after 16 seasons as the team's baseball counsel. He'll continue to give advice, Avila said, but the bulk of the arbitration work is now being handled by baseball operations director Sam Menzin, who worked closely with Westhoff in recent years, as well as associate counsel Alan Avila and the analytics team led by Jay Sartori. Like Westhoff, Sartori has experience with negotiations from his previous job at Major League Baseball, which included collective bargaining.

The Tigers already made two arbitration moves this offseason when they non-tendered catcher James McCann and reliever Alex Wilson, cutting them loose rather than going through the process. McCann signed a one-year contract with the White Sox last month and Wilson remains a free agent.

Of the Tigers' remaining arbitration cases, the largest by far was right fielder Nicholas Castellanos as he entered his third arbitration year and final season before free agency next offseason. He made $6,050,000 last year while batting .298 (185-for-620) with 23 home runs, 89 RBIs and a .854 OPS. The Tigers and Castellanos avoided arbitration on the evening of deadline day for a second consecutive year, this time with a $9.95 million salary.

Video: DET@MIL: Castellanos belts solo homer to right-center

Shane Greene was eligible for a second time before avoiding arbitration with a one-year deal Thursday night. Greene made $1,950,000 last year, his first full season as the Tigers' closer, compiling 32 saves in 38 chances.

Reliever Blaine Hardy was also eligible for arbitration a second time before agreeing to a one-year deal Friday, along with Matthew Boyd and Daniel Norris. Hardy avoided arbitration early last offseason by signing a one-year, $795,000 deal, then posted a 4-5 record, 3.56 ERA and 3.97 FIP in 13 starts and 17 relief appearances.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

Detroit Tigers

Tigers announce start times for 2019 schedule

Single-game tickets for Spring Training go on sale Saturday
MLB.com @beckjason

DETROIT -- The Tigers' home opener on April 4 will be a matinee as usual. So will most of their home games until May.

The club has released its game times for the upcoming season, and as expected, they include a heavy dose of day games for the opening month as the Tigers try to contend with the unpredictable spring weather in Michigan.

DETROIT -- The Tigers' home opener on April 4 will be a matinee as usual. So will most of their home games until May.

The club has released its game times for the upcoming season, and as expected, they include a heavy dose of day games for the opening month as the Tigers try to contend with the unpredictable spring weather in Michigan.

Detroit will open its season with a week-long road trip to Toronto and New York before heading to Comerica Park. The Tigers will open their home slate on April 4 with a 1:10 p.m. ET game against the Royals. The next day is an open date in case of a weather postponement, followed by 1:10 starts against Kansas City on April 6-7.

Tigers' 2019 regular-season schedule

The Tigers have nine more April home games. They'll host the Indians for three consecutive 1:10 starts April 9-11, then welcome the Pirates for 6:40 starts April 16-17. Detroit's first 7:10 home game is set for April 19 against the White Sox; the other three games of that series are scheduled for 1:10.

Once the Tigers get through April, their home schedule settles into a routine, with 7:10 and 1:10 starts during the week, 4:10 and 6:10 starts on Saturdays and 1:10 matinees on Sundays. They'll resume their 6:40 starts for four weeknight games in September against the Yankees and Twins, plus a 4:10 Monday matinee to conclude a wraparound series against the Orioles on Sept. 16.

Among the holiday home games is a 1:10 Labor Day matinee against the Twins on Sept. 2.

Season ticket packages are on sale now; more information is available at tigers.com/seasons or by calling or texting 313-471-BALL. Opening Day suite packages are also currently available.

Spring Training single-game tickets on sale Saturday
For those looking to get a head start on watching Detroit in warmer weather, single-game tickets for Spring Training home games in Lakeland, Fla., go on sale at 10 a.m. ET Saturday.

Spring Training tickets will be available at tigers.com, by phone at 866-66-TIGER or in person at the ticket office at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland. Those planning to buy tickets in person on Saturday can line up Saturday morning; numbers will be handed out beginning at 7 a.m.

Tigers' 2019 Spring Training schedule

Grapefruit League home-game tickets are priced at four different levels. The Tigers' exhibition game against Southeastern University on Feb. 22 and against a Detroit prospect squad on March 25 are priced at another level.

The home slate includes three visits from the defending NL East champion Braves; two visits each from the Yankees, Phillies and Blue Jays, and a March 14 visit from the World Series champion Red Sox.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

Detroit Tigers

Ex-Tiger Wilson hired to Detroit scouting staff

MLB.com @beckjason

DETROIT -- The Tigers had a void on their Major League scouting staff to fill when legendary ex-Tiger Don Kelly left to become a coach for the Astros. Detroit might well have filled it with another veteran infielder and emergency pitcher who grew up in Pittsburgh and played in Detroit.

Josh Wilson's Tigers tenure as a player wasn't nearly as long as Kelly's, but the organization is hoping his baseball background translates into scouting just as well. He's one of three scouting hires Detroit announced Monday to bolster its staff.

DETROIT -- The Tigers had a void on their Major League scouting staff to fill when legendary ex-Tiger Don Kelly left to become a coach for the Astros. Detroit might well have filled it with another veteran infielder and emergency pitcher who grew up in Pittsburgh and played in Detroit.

Josh Wilson's Tigers tenure as a player wasn't nearly as long as Kelly's, but the organization is hoping his baseball background translates into scouting just as well. He's one of three scouting hires Detroit announced Monday to bolster its staff.

Also added to the Major League scouting staff are longtime Orioles scout and executive John Stockstill and P.J. Jones. Joey Lothrop, Steve Taylor and Matt Zmuda were hired as amateur area scouts, while former Tigers batting practice pitcher Rafael Martinez was named as the director of Latin American player development.

The Tigers also announced additions to their baseball analytics department. Josh Kragness was hired as a senior software engineer, and Beau Hordan, Aidan Kearns and Zach Wolf were hired as analysts.

Collectively, the hires continue Detroit's trend of blending scouting and analytics in an effort to build the organization around young talent. On the scouting side in particular, the latest hires are a mix of veteran experience with potential.

The 37-year-old Wilson played pro baseball for 17 years, including parts of eight seasons in the Majors, before retiring last year. His last big league stint came in 2015 with the Tigers, for whom he started eight games between shortstop, second and third base. He also pitched an inning of relief.

Video: DET@NYY: Infielder Wilson pitches 8th for Tigers

Wilson's ties with the Tigers go back to his time coming up in the Marlins farm system when Al Avila and David Chadd were in the front office there. Among Wilson's teammates was a young shortstop prospect named Miguel Cabrera. Wilson also has baseball instruction and evaluation in his family; his father Mike was the longtime baseball coach at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.

Stockstill was in the Orioles organization for 14 years in a variety of roles, including assistant general manager, director of player personnel and director of player development. He spent last year as one of Baltimore's Major League scouts.

Jones joins the Tigers scouting staff after spending last year as a video coordinator in the Cubs organization. He was an assistant coach at Washington State University before that.

Martinez's return to player development brings him back to his roots. He managed the Tigers' Dominican Summer League team for five years before moving up to manage one of their rookie-level Gulf Coast League squads in 2016.

Among the amateur scouting hires, Taylor rejoins the organization after spending the last nine years in the Marlins scouting department. He worked with Detroit from 1999 to 2007. Zmuda, a Toledo native, and Lothrop were interns in the Tigers amateur scouting department last year. Their additions allowed the Tigers to promote Justin Henry and Dave Lottsfeldt to regional crosscheckers. Henry's scouting work included top pick Casey Mize last year.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

Detroit Tigers