Good news everyone, Chris Ilitch has made his first foray into extension-land, backing his words that the Tigers were going to spend money this offseason. Today the Tigers announced they’d re-signed fan favorite second baseman Jonathan Schoop to a two year deal worth 7.5 million a season with an opt out in 2022 (much to the chagrin of a VERY vocal minority that wanted him traded for a 40 FV prospect).
Schoop, 29, was likely days away from getting DFA’d in May after hitting a paltry .180/218/243 for a .461 OPS from opening day to May 8th. He has now found himself as the focal point of the Detroit offense. Schoop is a key cog in the rebuild machine as he’s brought his statline up to a cool .289/.333/.468 for an .801 OPS, with 18 homers and a nice 2.6 bWAR.
Since May 10th, Schoop has torn the absolute cover off the ball, hitting .328/.374/.549 for an incredible .923 OPS. This move allows the Tigers to let Paredes cook in Toledo for another season and let him develop instead of thrusting him into the lineup and counting on him to be an immediate producer for the ballclub.
All in all, this is tidy work from Avila. Mutual interest from Schoop wanting to stay and Avila wanting him back likely kept the VAUNTED Scott Boras from capitalizing on Schoop’s blistering last three months of baseball and is hopefully a sign of things to come from Chris Ilitch’s wallet and into our hearts.
Oh now I know writing this article is going to be very fun given how Tigers Twitter reacted to the drafting of Jackson Jobe, so why don’t we get right into it. This might’ve been the best start to a Tigers draft that we’ve seen in a very long time. In drafting Madden and Jobe, the Tigers have seemingly selected two frontline starters that can help the team compete for years to come.
Jackson Jobe, 3rd overall
The controversial pick, the pick that’ll have Tigers Twitter ranting and raving about for the foreseeable future just like a certain Tigers writer has done for last three years about Mize and Kelenic.
Prep shortstop Marcelo Mayer was available for the Tigers at three. Mayer would’ve filled an organizational role that the Tigers desperately needed, and they still passed on him to get the guy they felt most comfortable with. This is where the disconnect is, with scouts and experts raving about the Jobe selection while Twitter goes on about how much this pick sucks and how Jobe is an abject failure from a lame duck GM. The actual scouts that work in baseball for a living did nothing but rave about how talented Jobe is and how this pick was utterly fantastic, crediting the Tigers for sticking to their guns and listening to the scouting and analytics departments about Jobe.
To quote what a scout told me about Jobe: “I love Jackson Jobe. He’s the best prep arm I’ve ever scouted but taking prep arms that high is historically, objectively risky. That’s just the facts… but Jobe is the arm in this class who could be SPECIAL.”
This is pretty in line with the scouting report we got in this tweet from Brian Sakowski:
3. Tigers: Jackson Jobe, RHP, Okla. HS. Top prep arm in the class, potentially 80-grade slider, into upper 90’s this spring, CB/CH both project above average, spin data is absurd, case to be made this is the highest pure upside pick in the class. #DetroitRoots#PGDraft
Jobe features a potential 70 fastball and a 3200 RPM slider that’s a potential 80 (the max on the 20/80 scale), and two above average pitches in his change and curve, 55 on that scale. The wide array of pitches make his arsenal an absolutely elite and eclectic mix, a mix that will keep hitters from being able to sit on certain pitches because the others in his arsenal lag far behind. With an underslot value for Jobe at that, it was the perfect fit for them and helped set up their next pick.
This isn’t a make or break pick and the Tigers have had great success with prep pitchers, more specifically in flipping them, and his profile is completely different than Beau Burrows’ was. Jobe is a window extender, possibly. They’ve really pushed their elite talents through the farm to the show fast in the past when they’ve felt it necessary, with Porcello and Turner both within two years of draft, but if they slow play it he could be to the Tigers what Dustin May and Walker Buehler are to the Dodgers: window extenders.
Ty Madden, supplemental A, Pick 32
And to the steal of the draft, Ty Madden. What an outrageous fall for Madden, for reasons that range from signability concerns to data driven concerns that MLB Network mentioned about his fastball, though no one is completely sure. The Tigers will take this and run laughing all the way home yelling “no take backs.” Ranked #9 by MLB pipeline, he’s got a prototypical pitcher’s frame at 6’3 and 220, and is an absolute unit on the mound with a high 90’s fastball and a good slider.
Brian Sakowski has another great succinct report:
32. Tigers: Ty Madden, RHP, Texas. This’ll be an overpay, Madden was in play in the top 10 overall. FB up to 98-99 mph, slider is plus pitch that misses bats, big performance for Omaha club, good value for sure. #PGDraft
Madden may need work on a change-up but it doesn’t seem like it’s that far behind and the Tigers have shown the ability to help pitchers develop a third pitch, especially changeup (remember Michael Fulmer?) so there are a lot of encouraging signs here and a lot to like about these top two picks. Some publications have concerns that Madden may be a reliever long-term with his limited arsenal but other reports that are floating out there are very encouraged by his changeup, even with his limited use of it.
The Tigers are able to replace two elite graduating pitchers in Mize and Skubal with two incredibly elite arms, and one of them has flat out, seemingly, Cy Young-caliber potential. It’s time for Chris Fetter to work his magic in the offseason with these guys, and the rest of the Tigers coaching staff in the minors to assist him and the players and turning them into the best possible versions of themselves.
With the news of Boston’s intent to trade Andrew Benintendi, this a player the Tigers should see as a prime trade target to bolster a team, and outfield, desperately in need of an injection of talent. The Tigers are rolling into 2020 with an outfield, but what the outfield actually is nobody knows.
JaCoby Jones, a personal favorite, always seems to be on the cusp of a realization of potential until a freak injury happens, while Victor Reyes tears the cover off the ball and had a good 2020 but whether he can piece it all together in a full season remains to be seen. Newcomer Robbie Grossman and holdovers Daz Cameron and Christin Stewart round out the outfield options and I’d expect a heavy rotation of all 3 of those last options.
Could the Red Sox’s Andrew Benintendi be a good fit for the Tigers? (photo by Alexandra Simon)
This is where Benintendi can bring stability and talent to the roster. Andrew is a former top 10 pick, former top prospect in baseball, and a player that had a tumultuous 2020 during the pandemic that turned up to the season TOO in-shape, may be looking for a change of scenery according to Marlins reporter Craig Mish.
Per sources Red Sox continue to be open to moving OF Andrew Benintendi. Marlins and several other clubs are pursuing. Miami has pieces that make sense and looking for RF help. Change of scenery type move, if it happens. It could.
AJ Hinch has stated that the Tigers are looking for a players that hit righties well and Benintendi does just that. With a career OPS of 821 against righties and a wRC+ of 115, and a 10.5% walk rate against both handedness, he’s the perfect injection of offense that the Tigers need. Not an overly powerful guy, he does give you 15 to 20 homers a year with good gap power, a future table setter for Torkelson that can also drive runs in when needed. Athletic and agile with an average arm, he’s perfect to patrol one of the corners in Detroit.
Benintendi has 2 years left on his contract at an average of 5 million a year as a 26 year old, an easily affordable contract given that the Tigers are currently 30 million dollars behind in spending this year as opposed to where they were last year. What also makes this attractive is that as a player without a lot of team control and in a market where we just watched Lindor and Darvish be traded for peanuts, Benintendi should come relatively cheaply with Daz Cameron likely being the best piece going back to Boston. If Boston wants a pitcher in return, it’s just as easy to swap Cameron with Faedo and give Packard or Kody Clemens. The Tigers have a top system in the league with good depth to work from that would make a trade like this work well for both sides involved.
It’s that time of year again, the offseason, a time where we all go crazy and get mad at the Tigers for not doing what we all think is the best move, particularly pertaining to the Rule 5 draft. Happens every year, we see former top prospects that pop up as eligible and we immediately clamor for them with partial belief that while they’ve lost some sheen, the majority of what made them top prospects remain. Riley Ferrell did it to me last year and the Tigers took Reed Garrett. I was a giant fan of Ferrell out of college. Big, tall righty with a high 90’s fastball and plus hammer. Turns out, Riley and the strikezone were mortal enemies and that trend continued with the Marlins as their R5 pick until they returned him back to Houston.
Point being, corndogs. Corndogs before, corndogs now, corndogs forever.