OK, Tigers. You Now Have A Baseball President Of Ops, Now What’s Next?
As you probably have heard by now, the Detroit Tigers named San Francisco Giants General Manager Scott Harris (pictured with Giants manager, and former Tiger Gabe Kapler) as their new President of Baseball Operations. He takes over for the fired Al Avila.
It was officially announced on Monday afternoon, and a formal press conference introducing him will come on Tuesday afternoon at Comerica Park.
So, what's the laundry list of things that the young Mr. Harris (he's only 36 years old) has to deal with as he begins his tenure in the Motor City?
For the purpose of this article, we'll keep this within the bounds of player relations/contracts and not with any front office personnel/philosophy.
Let's start with the obvious issues that he inherited:
THE CABRERA, RODRIGUEZ, AND BAEZ CONTRACTS
These are a problem that have been talked about all season long. Everybody knows about what's left on Miguel Cabrera's contract (2023 is guaranteed at $32 million, plus an $8 million buyout for 2024). But the Eduardo Rodriguez and Javier Baez deals are just as big.
Rodriguez is just finishing the first year of a five-year deal worth $77 million. He missed a lot of time earlier this year due to "personal reasons" He's 3-5 in 72 1/3 innings pitched with a 4.35 ERA. In other words, not very good. He's slated to make $14 million next season.
As for Baez, he's hit .242 with 14 home runs and 58 RBI and a team-leading 134 strikeouts. Not very good. But his 26 fielding errors are more than alarming. Yes, you're going to have more fielding errors at shortstop because of the amount of ground balls hit to that area of the field. but 26 is waaaay too many. Baez is finishing up the first year of a six-year deal worth $140 million. He's set to make $22 million next season.
Now, both ERod and Baez can opt out of their long-term deals after next season. At this point, the Tigers hope that happens.
SCHOOP AND CHAFIN OPTING IN
Both Jonathan Schoop and Andrew Chafin have player options to return next season. Schoop's is for $7.5 million, Chafin's is for $6.5 million.
Schoop has been hurt for a portion of the year, but he's been terrible. He's hitting .200 with 10 home runs and 36 RBI. What looked like a bargain last year (when he signed a two-year extension), has turned into a minor albatross.
As for Chafin, he's been decent. 1-3 with a 3.06 ERA with 50 innings pitched in 56 appearances.
I expect both to exercise their player options and to return in 2023.
WHO PLAYS CATCHER?
Tucker Barnhart is a free agent after the season. And while he's been excellent defensively, offensively he's been bad. .214 with only one home run. Eric Haase is the defender that Barnhart is, but is a better hitter. Former top prospect Jake Rogers has missed the entire year due to Tommy John surgery. And their top catching prospect, Dillon Dingler, has seen his progress stunted by injuries. This is a major question mark for Scott Harris this offseason.
WHO'S HEALTHY AMONG THE STARTING PITCHERS?
They will get Spencer Turnbull back next spring as he spent this season recovering from Tommy John surgery. Eduardo Rodriguez and Matt Manning will likely be a part of the rotation. But will their best pitcher, Tarik Skubal, be ready for Opening Day?
And with former number 1 overall pick Casey Mize out for most, if not all, of 2023 due to Tommy John surgery, who gets the fifth spot? Beau Briske? Drew Hutchison? Tyler Alexander? Spring training will determine much of this.
Lots of issues for Mr. Harris to deal with this offseason. as you can see. And with an impatient fan base, he'll need to make positive changes almost immediately. People have been stunned at the lack of offense all season long. Will most of the injured players returning make a difference? A big offseason awaits for the Tigers and for Scott Harris.