Detroit Tigers FA Targets: Outfield


As Thanksgiving week goes on, the hot stove around the Detroit Tigers is at a slow simmer. The only recent “news” is that MLB Trade Rumors recently released their projected free agent destinations, and two of their staff members have Detroit as a possible landing spot for Padres outfielder Jurickson Profar.

Profar was a highly regarded prospect in the Rangers system as an infielder. He played all over the diamond when he arrived to San Diego via a trade with Oakland, but he settled into left field in 2022. While his .243/.331/.391 slash line may not stand out, he did put up a wRC+ of 110. He walks a lot (11.1%) and has two 20-homer seasons under his belt.

Profar is a switch hitter who hits better against lefties (.243) but has more power (63 HR) against righties. The Detroit Tigers have some outfield power in the minor leagues, but it’s all below Low-A at the moment. So Profar would be ideal for a short-term deal. Parker Meadows, who was just added to the 40-man roster, still hasn’t seen major league time yet, so a veteran like Profar could be a fit in left. If the Tigers do plan on spending more, there are other options available.

The outfield market for the Detroit Tigers appears to be small

Wil Myers 

Myers dealt with two different injuries this year. The first one was his thumb in early April that caused him to hit the Injured List. When you look at his numbers at that time (.218/.254/.273) it’s clear something was amiss.  The far more impactful injury involved his right knee. Ironically, the players San Diego called up to replace him — Trayce Thompson and Nomar Mazara — were both former Tigers. Thompson was technically in Triple-A, but you get the idea.

The injury cost Myers June and July as he decided to go with rest and rehab versus having surgery. The Padres signed Myers to a six-year deal worth $83 million in 2017, but they decided not to pick up his $20 million dollar option. This year he hit .261/.315/.398 over 77 games, with a strikeout rate of 30%. His walk rate, which is just under 10% for his career, was down to 7.3% in 2022. It’s hard to know if the injuries played a factor in him striking out more, but even still he managed a wRC+ of 104.  If healthy, Myers is a right-handed hitter who can play both corner outfield spots and fill in at first base if Spencer Torkelson continues to struggle.

Myers punishes fastballs (run value of 9 in 2022) and he was a solid defender, with five defensive runs saved. That was a big improvement from his 2021 season (-8), but it could be because he played less. He is seeking a one or two-year deal for $1o million annually. Tampa Bay would also be a good fit for Myers, or he could return to San Diego.

Franmil Reyes 

Cody Stavenhagen of the Athletic suggested Reyes based on his power numbers. He’s right. Fans may recall Reyes hit several moonshots at Comerica Park in his time in Cleveland. The Detroit Tigers needs everything. But more than anything else, they need power.

Andrew Benintendi

One player I like, but he seems highly unlikely to sign in Detroit, is Andrew Benintendi. He is a left-handed bat, but he can play both corner spots. He is coming off a 3.4 WAR season, and his lifetime numbers at Comerica Park are pretty good — 34-for-99 (.343/.411/.505 OPS of .916) in 26 games.

The Trade Route

Before his breakout 6.3 bWAR season in 2021 I suggested the Tigers should trade for Cardinals outfielder Tyler O’Neill. The reasons then were the same as they are now. He came back down to earth this season (wRC+ of 101) as injuries held him to just 96 games. But he was still a solid defender and has wheels to play in left.

The Cardinals need bullpen help, and the Tigers happen to have the bullpen depth to trade an arm or two for O’Neill. The Tigers just added Brendan White and Reese Olson to their 40-man roster, and they could step up to replace whomever St. Louis wants.

Another team to consider is the Colorado Rockies. They have several young outfielders in the upper minors, and they will have to make some decisions for 2023.  Zac Veen, the team’s number one prospect, had a strong campaign in the Arizona Fall League and could be making his debut next year.

Sean Bouchard is a right-handed bat who came up as an unranked prospect, similar to Kerry Carpenter. He hit 20 home runs at Triple-A and, in a small sample size at the MLB level, performed very well. He hit .297/.454/.500 in 97 plate appearances and showed good patience at the plate. Bouchard would be an ideal fit based on his projections, but it seems unlikely the Rockies would move a player with that much team control.

That opens up the case to trade veterans like Randal Grichuk or Connor Joe. Joe can play the outfield and first base. He is a solid defender and owns a career walk rate of nearly 12%.

These players are not exactly household ones. But Detroit may have to either trade or spend a bit to get a right-handed outfielder with power.

(AP Photo/Gregory Bull)