Detroit Tigers: Three More Potential Free Agent Fits

December 28, 2016

Oct 5, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers vice president Al Avila prior to game three of the 2014 ALDS baseball playoff game against the Baltimore Orioles at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Detroit Tigers fans have seen the team make relatively minor moves this offseason. However, the team signed its first Major League free agent last week in Alex Avila. Here are three free agent fits.

Detroit Tigers general manager Al Avila has made just a few significant moves since the 2016 season ended.

The general manager traded Cameron Maybin to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to save money. In return, Detroit netted hard-throwing pitcher Victor Alcantara.


Additionally, Alex Avila returned to the organization on a one-year contract.

In an offseason in which the team has brought in plenty of minor league free agents, bringing back the veteran catcher represented Detroit’s first Major League free agent signing of the offseason.

Will the Tigers sign any more players to Major League deals? That remains to be seen.

However, if the Tigers do sign a Major League free agent, it probably won’t be one of the bigger names left on the free agent market.

Despite that, it wouldn’t be a total shock to see the team add a complimentary piece or a buy-low free agent—although that’s purely speculative.

Here are three free agents remaining on the market who could be a fit with the Detroit Tigers during the 2017 season.

Jun 20, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Seattle Mariners first baseman Adam Lind (26) receives congratulations from teammates after he hits a two run home run in the fifth inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Adam LindPosition: First Baseman/Designated HitterAge: 332016 Stat of Note: .192 ISO

The Detroit Tigers don’t exactly need a starting first baseman or designated hitter, but Adam Lind could provide decent value as a bench bat.

In 126 games with the Seattle Mariners, Lind didn’t exactly light the world on fire in some statistical categories.

All told, he batted .239 with a .286 on-base percentage during his time in the Pacific Northwest. The slugger also added 58 RBI, 48 runs scored, 20 home runs and 17 doubles.

This represented a significant drop off for the former Brewer, who hit .291 with a .364 on-base percentage in his previous three seasons.

However, despite the down year, there’s still plenty to like about Lind as a bench bat.

As a Mariner, the veteran still turned in a 92 wRC+ and a .192 ISO that represented the fourth-highest mark of his career.

Potential Fit with the Detroit Tigers

Despite adding Alex Avila, the Tigers could still use some pop off the bench.

Currently, Tyler Collins and Steven Moya represent the team’s best pinch-hitting options. While both players have solid potential, they have yet to put it all together at the Major League level.

Lind could serve as the team’s primary pinch hitter as well as an occasional option at first base and designated hitter. This would allow Detroit to keep Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez more fresh over the course of the season.


Trevor PlouffePosition: Infielder/OutfielderAge: 302016 Stat of Note: 91 wRC+

Another potential bench bat for the Detroit Tigers, Trevor Plouffe would be an interesting candidate to play a super-sub role.

The former Minnesota Twin has experience at all four infield positions, not to mention some brief playing time in the outfield corners.

Potential Fit with the Detroit Tigers

While most utility players are more glove-first options for managers, Plouffe would give Brad Ausmus a player capable of providing some pop at multiple positions.

Since the beginning of the 2012 season, the former first-round pick has averaged 64 RBI, 56 runs scored, 26 doubles, 17 home runs and two triples per year.

Plouffe isn’t the same as Romine in terms of being a strong defender at multiple positions. However, his defensive flexibility brings plenty of value to the table.

In terms of a potential role with the Tigers, the infielder could be an extremely valuable bench cog. Similar to Lind, he would be one of the first bats off the bench in a late-game scenario. What’s more, he could serve as the top backup to Nick Castellanos, Ian Kinsler, Miguel Cabrera and Jose Iglesias.

The veteran’s defensive versatility would also give Ausmus much more flexibility during games.

Aug 3, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Joe Smith (30) pitches against the Miami Marlins during the eighth inning at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Joe SmithPosition: Relief PitcherAge: 322016 Stat of Note: 8.5 Swinging Strike Percentage

Since entering the Majors in 2007, Joe Smith has done nothing but throw quality innings.

The reliever has pitched to a 2.93 ERA and a 3.65 FIP in 570.2 innings spread over 10 seasons pitching at the game’s highest level. Those 10 years included stints with the New York Mets, Cleveland, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Chicago Cubs.

All told, the veteran relief pitcher hast struck out 7.5 batters per nine innings while surrendering just 0.6 walks per nine frames.

In 52 innings split between the Halos and the World Series champs, the 32-year-old logged a 3.46 ERA. He also punched out 6.9 batters per nine innings while walking just 18 total hitters.

Potential Fit with the Detroit Tigers

The Tigers already have plenty of relief options, but adding a proven commodity like the former Met to the mix would certainly improve the team’s bullpen.

Smith could provide consistent innings for Detroit, taking the pressure off the likes of Shane Greene, Mark Lowe and Bruce Rondon.

All things considered, the right-hander probably isn’t a candidate to close games, but he could develop into one of Detroit’s top setup men in building a bridge to Francisco Rodriguez.

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