DETROIT – The Detroit Tigers have agreed to minor league deals with free agent power bat Renato Nunez and veteran utility infielder Greg Garcia.
Both players will get invitations to major league spring training, but there’s no guarantee they will make the roster.
The Tigers have agreed to terms with INF’s Greg Garcia and Renato Núñez on Minor League contracts. Both players will receive invites to Major League Spring Training. pic.twitter.com/ZbCeoSk7pl— Tigers PR (@DetroitTigersPR) February 10, 2021
Nunez, 26, is the more interesting of the two pick-ups, as he hit 31 home runs in 151 games in 2019 and 12 home runs in 52 games during the shortened 2020 campaign.
In those two seasons combined, Nunez .247/.314/.469, which is good for a .783 OPS. He clubbed 43 home runs and 34 doubles while drawing 61 walks and striking out 207 times in 203 games.
While he was primarily a designated hitter in 2019, Nunez was most commonly at first base when he did get a chance in the field. He played 28 of 52 games at first base last year.
He’s not considered a strong defender or a plus base runner, but Nunez has undeniable power in his bat. This gives the Tigers another option at first base if they prefer to move Jeimer Candelario back to his better position at third.
Last season, Candelario was off to a strong defensive start at the hot corner before the Tigers moved him to first base to replace an injured C.J. Cron.
If Nunez plays first and bumps Candelario back to third base, the Tigers could complete their infield with Willi Castro at shortstop and Jonathan Schoop at second base.
Castro is also a candidate to play third base, or even second base if Schoop is moved to another infield position on a part-time basis.
Niko Goodrum, who started last season as the team’s primary shortstop, shouldn’t be forgotten, either. He had a difficult 2020, but could easily regain favor with the new coaching staff due to his defensive versatility.
The Tigers have plenty of younger options who could fill the utility infielder role, so hopefully the addition of Garcia is simply an organizational depth move.
Garcia, 31, posted a .529 OPS in 35 games with the San Diego Padres last season. He’s an average defender who can play any infield position and maybe even a corner outfield spot in a pinch.
Garcia owns a career .354 on-base percentage, but his hit tools have limited him to a career .693 OPS.