We’re now two weeks away from Opening Day at Comerica Park, meaning we’re now at a point where questions gravitate towards the Opening Day roster. Not surprisingly, a lot of those questions revolve around Rule 5 pick Akil Baddoo and his bid to make the Tigers outfield.
If Baddoo makes the team, which looks like it’s gonna happen at this point, do you think he will mostly be an everyday player?
While Baddoo's strong Spring Training so far has made the case that he can hold his own in the Majors without being overwhelmed, being an everyday player is another matter. He still faces a huge jump to regular-season MLB play, where teams build scouting reports on hitters and try to exploit tendencies. If Baddoo makes the team, he'll be a backup outfielder, and manager A.J. Hinch will try to find opportunities to play him where he might have some positive results. One plus is that Baddoo’s baserunning and outfield skills could earn him late-game opportunities as a defensive replacement and pinch-runner.
Will they take 5 outfielders up north to start the season?
It’s possible. To do that, they would have to go with one utility infielder, which could leave Niko Goodrum backing up at four infield positions (though Miguel Cabrera can play first base).
To keep Baddoo, is Isaac Paredes optioned, or is something more drastic likely -- i.e. Goodrum, Victor Reyes, JaCoby Jones?
The roster is a puzzle. If Paredes makes the team, he would most likely have to be a second utility infielder unless Renato Núñez somehow doesn’t make the team. If the Tigers carry two utility infielders, they almost surely cannot carry five outfielders. In that scenario, a four-man outfield with Baddoo in it would have to come at the expense of either Reyes or Jones. As for the likelihood of each move, we’re still two weeks away from Opening Day.
With Baddoo performing we’ve heard a lot about Reyes and Jones being options to go to Toledo if they go with four outfielders, but is Mazara also an option to either go to Triple-A or be cut (not sure where he stands with options)?
Nomar Mazara signed with the Tigers as a six-year free agent and has no Minor League options left. He would have to accept an outright assignment, which is not happening.
Do the Tigers have any Rule 5 players out there that might come back to us? Are they good?
Right-hander Will Vest made a strong impression early in Mariners camp but had a really rough week of outings earlier this month, giving up seven earned runs on eight hits over three innings in as many outings. The hard-throwing converted infielder has bounced back over the past week, but it looks like his quest to make the Mariners bullpen could come down to the final days. Colleague Daniel Kramer’s latest Opening Day roster projection has Vest on the outside looking in.
If Vest doesn’t make the Mariners, he’d go on waivers, where another team could claim him under the same Rule 5 structure. If he went unclaimed, the Mariners could then offer him back to the Tigers for $50,000 (half the price the Mariners paid to draft him) or try to work out a trade to obtain his full rights, minor-league options and all. Given the Tigers’ constant need for pitching and thinning right-handed relief depth, the Tigers would probably prefer to take him back.
What are the chances Ian Krol makes the team out of camp? Does he have an opt-out clause? How many of the NRI invitees have an opt-out clause?
Krol would have an intriguing case to crack the Tigers bullpen in a lot of other years, but his strong spring so far comes in the same year the Tigers have a lot of left-handed pitchers performing well in camp, including fellow non-roster invite Derek Holland. Krol is more likely to open the season at Triple-A Toledo, but could be near the front of the line for a call-up.
When will Hinch announce Matthew Boyd as the starter on Opening Day? #yeahBOYD
If you count out the days from Boyd’s next start on Saturday, he could start Opening Day with two days’ extra rest somewhere along the line. But we don’t know when Spencer Turnbull’s next start is scheduled. His turn on regular rest would’ve been Friday, but Casey Mize is starting that game on an extra day’s rest. So, in short, don’t assume anything yet, other than Hinch hopefully announces his Opening Day starter soon.