Bob Wojnowski, Lynn Henning and Chris McCosky wrap up the season for the 2018 Detroit Tigers. The Detroit News, The Detroit News
That favorite baseball word “upside” was on display Friday when the Detroit Tigers grabbed a couple of 40-man roster adds from the waiver wire.
They took a multiple-position man, Brandon Dixon, from the Reds as they hope a 26-year-old right-handed hitter could become a version, perhaps, of Niko Goodrum, or maybe more realistically, one-time Tigers handyman Andrew Romine.
They also plucked from the Blue Jays a 25-year-old, left-handed reliever, Jose Fernandez, who pitched in 13 games during September and had an ERA that explained his waiver-wire availability: 6.10.
The Tigers, however, decided each player was worth taking free of charge for a 40-man roster that still has two open spots.
Dixon was a third-round pick by the Dodgers in 2013 out of the University of Arizona. He played in 74 games for the Reds in 2018 and played everywhere but shortstop and catcher, including two stints as an emergency pitcher, during which he allowed no hits and no walks, with a strikeout, in 1.1 innings.
He batted only .178 in 124 plate appearances, but hit five home runs, six doubles – and had 43 strikeouts. His on-base average was .218, his OPS .524.
Fernandez is 6-foot-3, 170 pounds and was signed by the Blue Jays while a teen in the Dominican Republic.
The Tigers’ interest is natural: Fernandez has a mid-90s fastball, as well as a slider and cut fastball. He averaged nearly a strikeout per inning during 195 minor-league games, although he also walked 123 in 276 innings.
But because he is only 25, and a left-hander with high velocity and a presentable repertoire, the Tigers decided to take a shot.
Tigers general manager Al Avila had said earlier Friday the Tigers were taking a long look at the big-league waiver wire for “players we feel still have upside.”
Avila will head this weekend for the General Manager Meetings that begin Tuesday at Carlsbad, Calif.
“I’ve already spoken to several GMs, getting a feel for what they need to do,” Avila said of potential trade talks. “It will take time for things to develop on the free-agent market, and for trades.”
The Tigers continue to hunt for a starting shortstop. A prime candidate is free agent Adeiny Hechevarria, who finished the season with the Yankees.