LAKELAND, Fla. -- Riley Greene has yet to play a game in the Majors, but the Tigers just acquired an All-Star outfielder to help fill the void from his injury. Detroit acquired slugger Austin Meadows from the Rays late Monday night for infielder Isaac Paredes and a Competitive Balance Round B Draft pick.
The deal, the latest move by general manager Al Avila aimed at lifting the Tigers back into contention, bolsters Detroit’s offense after Greene fractured his right foot on a foul ball Friday. Once Greene arrives in Detroit later this season, it gives the Tigers a formidable outfield quartet to go with a bolstered infield.
Tigers get: OF Austin Meadows
Rays get: INF Isaac Paredes and Competitive Balance Round B Draft pick
Though Avila said Saturday the Tigers expected to fill their outfield void internally, he also said they’d be open to opportunities. They were actively scouring the trade market since then, looking for an outfielder who could be a longer-term piece rather than just a fill-in while Greene is out.
While the market for center fielders was thin, the Tigers got creative by adding Meadows, a corner outfielder. The 26-year-old is expected to slot into left field, while Akil Baddoo shifts to center. Victor Reyes, who was in line to be the internal fill-in center fielder, moves back to a fourth outfielder role.
While Meadows isn’t a center fielder, he is a major offensive boost, having posted 33 and 27 home runs over his past two full seasons, both including 29 doubles. Last year’s 27-homer campaign came with a career-high 106 RBIs and 59 walks. Though he hit .234 overall, he was a .299 hitter with runners in scoring position. His 19 game-winning RBIs led the Majors, while his 29 go-ahead RBIs tied for third-most.
The Rays had the outfield depth to listen to interest on Meadows, who won’t be eligible for free agency until after the 2024 season. He’ll make $4 million this season in his first year of arbitration eligibility.
Likewise, the rise of infield prospects in the Tigers' system over the last year, including Ryan Kreidler and Gage Workman, allowed the team to deal from surplus with Paredes, whom the Rays had checked on since the offseason. While the 23-year-old has shown advanced plate discipline, he had yet to hit for impact in the Majors, slashing .215/.290/.302 in 193 career plate appearances.
Paredes had been optioned to Triple-A Toledo, where he was set to be part of an infield rotation with Kreidler, Kody Clemens, Zack Short, Jack López and Josh Lester.
How the Tigers find playing time for their outfielders when Greene returns will be worth following, notably with three left-handed hitters in Meadows, Baddoo and Greene. However, the deal allows the team to exercise some patience with Greene. While the typical recovery for a non-displaced foot fracture is 6-8 weeks, that timetable is far from certain. A full recovery is recommended to avoid lingering issues, and a player needs to ramp up activity carefully to get used to running and agility work again. Greene will likely need additional time in the Minor Leagues to get up to game speed. With all that in mind, a June return is a more realistic scenario.
While the Tigers traded from their infield depth, they now have a depth of Meadows in the outfield. Austin’s brother, Parker, is the Tigers No. 20 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, and also an outfielder. He spent last season at High-A West Michigan, and made an impression in Spring Training with an improved swing and offensive approach.