Detroit Tigers prospect Dixon Machado is out of minor league options. Can he crack the 25-man roster as a utility man in 2017?
As Spring Training of 2017 continues to progress, the Detroit Tigers have a couple of position battles that will be interesting to keep an eye on. Among the most notable are center field and the final spot in the rotation.
There may also be a spot on the bench that is up for grabs, according to the Detroit Free Press. Three of the bench spots figure to go to No. 2 catcher Alex Avila, an extra outfielder (who may be part of a center field platoon) and infielder/outfielder Andrew Romine, per the Detroit Free Press. The fourth spot remains undecided.
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One of the players who is competing for a potential bench spot is 25-year-old infielder Dixon Machado. Over the offseason, some wondered if the Tigers might entertain the thought of trading Jose Iglesias. If Iglesias would have been traded, it would have possibly opened up shortstop for Machado.
However, Machado, who is out of options, still has a chance to make the team as a utility player. Machado has spent parts of the past two seasons with the Tigers, hitting .218/.307/.256 over 32 games. He has hit just .246/.323/.317 in his minor league career, but has shown improvement at the plate in recent seasons.
Though there have been concerns about his bat, many have long felt that Machado has a big-league caliber glove. Going into the 2016 season, Machado ranked eighth on Baseball America’s list of the Tigers’ top 10 prospects.
During his time in professional baseball, Machado has primarily been a middle infielder. However, the Detroit Free Press recently reported that Machado displayed his versatility by making a start at third base, which could bolster his odds of snagging a roster spot. He also showed that he can handle the position and play it well.
When it comes to the final spot on the bench, another player who remains in the mix is Steven Moya. Like Machado, Moya is also out of minor league options and could risk being lost on waivers should he not make the team. As a corner outfielder, Moya is blocked from a starting spot by Justin Upton and J.D. Martinez. The Tigers already have a designated hitter as well in Victor Martinez.
It is also worth noting that Moya is known for his power. Over a combined 128 games with the Tigers and Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens last season, Moya hit a combined 25 home runs. In 2014, he hit 35 home runs for the Double-A Erie SeaWolves.
The Tigers also have a player who is similar to Machado in Romine, who functions as a utility man. It should be interesting to see if the Tigers opt for power or defense when choosing who will earn the final bench spot.