The Detroit News' 2019 Detroit Tigers final grades
Go through the gallery to see The Detroit News' final grades for the Detroit Tigers' 2019 season, compiled by Chris McCosky. Click here if you have trouble viewing the gallery.
Detroit — This is it. It’s time to put the horrors of the 2019 baseball season in a big box and store it in the attic. Let’s let these final grades be the last look-back for a while. And let’s also assume (pray), going forward, that the 2019 season will be rock-bottom in this Tigers rebuild.
So, what’s next?
Most likely, we will say goodbye to some friends this offseason. Reliever Blaine Hardy, who made over $1 million and had his season cut short by an elbow injury, might not be tendered a contract. Catcher-first baseman John Hicks, entering arbitration for the first time and coming off a mostly disappointing season, could be in the same boat.
Those two have been with the club since 2014 and 2016, respectively.
Shortstop Jordy Mercer, infielder Gordon Beckham and pitcher Edwin Jackson, pro’s pros who provided invaluable veteran leadership this season, likely will be back on the free-agent market.
Reliever Daniel Stumpf, who finished the season on the injured list, and outfielder Mikie Mahtook, who finished the year at Triple-A Toledo, likely will be on the free-agent market, as well.
And with the Tigers needing to clear space on the 40-man roster to protect prospects like center fielder Daz Cameron, possibly pitchers Beau Burrows and Kyle Funkhouser and others from the Rule 5 draft, the futures of pitchers Victor Alcantara, Zac Reininger, Eduardo Jimenez and Matt Hall are up in the air.
Pitcher Drew VerHagen, whom the Tigers’ have twice designated for assignment, will be eligible for arbitration this offseason. You would expect, based on his encouraging run in August and September, that he’d be back. But remember, the Tigers’ last year cut bait with Alex Wilson and James McCann prior to arbitration.
Many of the other offseason questions can’t be answered until it becomes clear what, if anything, general manager Al Avila does via trades or free agency this winter. The one trade chip he has, unless he decides to dip into the Tigers’ prospect pool, is pitcher Matthew Boyd.
Last year, he spent about $16 million to sign pitchers Tyson Ross and Matt Moore, and infielders Josh Harrison and Mercer.
There is a good chance Avila again will look to add one or two affordable starters and, as manager Ron Gardenhire has all but begged for, at least one veteran, run-producing bat. The perfect scenario would be if one of those bats belonged to a veteran catcher.
It seems a long shot that the Tigers would go into next season with Jake Rogers and Grayson Greiner behind the plate.
There are similar questions all around the diamond: Did Willi Castro show enough to warrant the every day shortstop job? Should Niko Goodrum settle in at one position (second base or shortstop)? Are Dawel Lugo and Jeimer Candelario everyday players at third and first? How much longer do they give Christin Stewart in left field? Did Victor Reyes show enough to warrant the everyday right-field job? Is Daniel Norris' best fit as a starter or reliever?
As you would expect, until the hot-stove league kicks into gear after the World Series, there are far more questions than answers. For now, though, here's one last look back at a dreadful 114-loss season. As always, these final grades are subjective and based on reasonable expectations for each individual player.
Read 'em and weep.