Meet all 26 members of the Detroit Tigers’ roster -- surprises, spring stats, predicting roles

Tigers finalize roster for 2021 Opening Day

Gleyber Torres #25 of the New York Yankees tags Akil Baddoo #60 of the Detroit Tigers attempting to steal second base in the fifth inning during a spring training game at George M. Steinbrenner Field on March 05, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. (2021 Getty Images)

DETROIT – The Detroit Tigers have finalized their 26-man roster to begin the 2021 season.

Spring training was not only meaningful this offseason -- it was also fun to watch. A new coaching staff got its first look at the players in game action, and several rookies and newcomers battled down to the wire for starting jobs and backup roles.

Now, finally, it’s time for the team to head north and start playing games that count. Here’s a look at the 26 players who made the Opening Day roster.

C Wilson Ramos

2020 stats: .239/.297/.387 (.684 OPS), 5 HR, 6 2B, 10 BB, 31 SO in 45 games.

Spring training stats: .268/.333/.415 (.748 OPS), 1 HR, 3 2B, 4 BB, 9 SO in 18 games.

Projected role: Starting catcher

The spring training slash line will probably look a lot like what Ramos gives the Tigers over a full season in 2021. He’s a steady, reliable veteran behind the dish who can handle the young pitching staff and play reasonably well on defense.

Offense is the calling card for Ramos, though, as he owns a lifetime .755 OPS -- above average for a catcher -- and made All-Star teams in 2016 and 2018 thanks to an OPS north of .800.

1B Miguel Cabrera

2020 stats: .250/.329/.417 (.746 OPS), 10 HR, 4 2B, 24 BB, 51 SO in 57 games.

Spring training stats: .225/.250/.400 (.650 OPS), 2 HR, 1 2B, 1 BB, 11 SO in 16 games.

Projected role: Starting designated hitter, part of first base rotation

We’re doing this again, huh? Manager A.J. Hinch insisted all spring that Cabrera would spend a couple of games each week at first base, and considering the Tigers cut Renato Nunez, it feels like that’ll be the case on Opening Day.

Cabrera hit 10 home runs in 57 games last season, which was an encouraging sign. But it’s been four seasons since he posted an above-average OPS in a full season. There’s no reason to read into his spring training numbers, but don’t assume Cabrera will be a positive offensively in 2021.

2B Jonathan Schoop

2020 stats: .278/.324/.475 (.799 OPS), 8 HR, 4 2B, 8 BB, 39 SO in 44 games.

Spring training stats: .179/.281/.250 (.531 OPS), 0 HR, 2 2B, 4 BB, 8 SO in 11 games.

Projected role: Starting second baseman

Bringing back Schoop was a no-brainer for the Tigers. They’re hoping to get a full season of exactly what they gave him in 44 games last year.

Hinch could move Schoop around the infield to make room for Isaac Paredes in the future, but for now, it looks like he’ll be slotted in a second base on a daily basis. His track record suggests he’ll give the Tigers at least 20 home runs and a reasonable on-base percentage.

3B Jeimer Candelario

2020 stats: .297/.369/.503 (.872 OPS), 7 HR, 11 2B, 20 BB, 49 SO in 52 games.

Spring training stats: .341/.388/.432 (.820 OPS), 0 HR, 2 2B, 3 BB, 6 SO in 18 games.

Projected role: Starting third baseman

If Candelario mirrors his 2020 numbers in a full season, it’ll be considered a true breakout. He was the team’s best hitter throughout the shortened season, getting on base at a high rate and showing the line drive power that made him such a coveted prospect.

Even though the Tigers have a hole at first base, Hinch said he likes Candelario best at the hot corner, and Candelario himself has expressed the same. He’s flashed plus defense at the position, so there’s no reason for the Tigers to keep moving him around.

SS Willi Castro

2020 stats: .349/.381/.550 (.932 OPS), 6 HR, 4 2B, 7 BB, 38 SO in 36 games.

Spring training stats: .319/.360/.596 (.956 OPS), 3 HR, 2 2B, 1 BB, 8 SO in 19 games.

Projected role: Starting shortstop

All offseason, Castro’s numbers were dismissed as unsustainable, and yes, his BABIP will certainly drop. But he’s 23 years old -- why is nobody factoring in the very likely possibility that he continues to improve?

Castro backed up his breakout this spring, hitting three home runs and posting a .956 OPS in 19 games. Perhaps more importantly, his defensive improvements from the start of spring training to now were about as drastic as it gets over the course of a single month.

It doesn’t seem impossible that Castro could be an .800-.850 OPS bat with better than average defense at shortstop.

LF Robbie Grossman

2020 stats: .241/.344/.482 (.826 OPS), 8 HR, 12 2B, 21 BB, 38 SO in 51 games.

Spring training stats: .238/.360/.524 (.884 OPS), 3 HR, 3 2B, 7 BB, 12 SO in 18 games.

Projected role: Starting left fielder

Spring training was another glaring example of why Grossman should absolutely begin the season in the leadoff spot for the Tigers. Despite hitting just .238, Grossman posted a .360 on-base percentage -- if he can get that average up near his career rate of around .250, his OBP could soar into the high .300s.

Grossman also flashed some of the power he displayed last season. It was a first in 2020, and since 51 games is such a small sample size, Grossman is far from a lock for 20 home runs. But it’s certainly possible.

CF JaCoby Jones

2020 stats: .268/.333/.515 (.849 OPS), 5 HR, 9 2B, 7 BB, 34 SO in 30 games.

Spring training stats: .119/.213/.286 (.498 OPS), 2 HR, 1 2B, 4 BB, 14 SO in 18 games.

Projected role: Starting center fielder

With all the new players and prospects in Tigers camp, Jones flew under the radar this spring. It didn’t help that he hit .119 with 14 strikeouts, either.

But before losing another season to a hit-by-pitch related injury in 2020, Jones was one of the most consistent hitters in the Tigers’ lineup. Since tweaking his swing in 2019, Jones has made steady improvement at the plate.

His defense and speed are always going to be assets, and Jones has always shown home run and doubles power. If he takes another step forward in terms of plate discipline, he could very well hold onto this job all season.

RF Nomar Mazara

2020 stats: .228/.295/.294 (.589 OPS), 1 HR, 6 2B, 10 BB, 44 SO in 42 games.

Spring training stats: .188/.235/.313 (.548 OPS), 1 HR, 1 2B, 2 BB, 8 SO in 12 games.

Projected role: Starting right fielder

Mazara was a good gamble for the Tigers to take this offseason. He was inexpensive and was once a high-upside prospect. That all being said, don’t discount the possibility of him losing his everyday job within the first few weeks if he doesn’t hit.

The Tigers have two very worthy backup outfielders on the roster if Mazara falters. He’s coming off a terrible season with the Chicago White Sox and didn’t find much success in the spring, either.

A return to his pre-2020 form would mean Mazara hits 20 home runs with a solid OPS.

OF Akil Baddoo

Career minor league stats: .249/.357/.422 (.780 OPS), 21 HR, 21 3B, 44 2B, 140 BB, 231 SO in 233 games (Rookie ball, Singe-A and High-A).

Spring training stats: .325/.460/.750 (1.210 OPS), 5 HR, 2 2B, 10 BB, 14 SO in 21 games.

Projected role: Reserve outfielder

If you don’t know this name, you really haven’t paid attention to spring training. At all.

Baddoo was the talk of camp from start to finish. When he arrived, the Rule 5 draft pick faced long odds of making the roster. Luckily, he didn’t even give the Tigers a choice.

Not only did Baddoo hit five home runs, he showed incredibly advanced plate discipline for a 22-year-old who has never played above High-A ball and missed the entire 2020 season.

By the end of the spring, the argument isn’t whether or not Baddoo should make the roster. It’s how often should he find his way into the starting lineup.

OF Victor Reyes

2020 stats: .277/.315/.391 (.706 OPS), 4 HR, 7 2B, 9 BB, 45 SO in 57 games.

Spring training stats: .290/.371/.355 (.726 OPS), 0 HR, 2 2B, 4 BB, 8 SO in 14 games.

Projected role: Reserve outfielder

When the 2020 season came to a close, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that Reyes would be one of the team’s starting outfielders in 2021. Two free agent signings later, and he’s back in a reserve role.

Reyes had a dreadful final two weeks, but he was excellent for the majority of last season. He doesn’t have much power, and he never walks, but his ability to sustain a high batting average and hit the occasional double has value.

He won’t be an everyday player to begin April, but history suggests we shouldn’t count Reyes out completely.

U Harold Castro

2020 stats: .347/.407/.429 (.836 OPS), 0 HR, 4 2B, 5 BB, 11 SO in 22 games.

Spring training stats: .262/.326/.333 (.659 OPS), 0 HR, 3 2B, 4 BB, 10 SO in 19 games.

Projected role: Super utility

Hinch greatly values versatility in a roster. Harold Castro beating out Nunez for the final roster spot was the most obvious example of that philosophy.

When he returned from injury last season, Harold Castro posted an OBP north of .400 and even drew five walks. That’s not likely a sign of a completely reborn hitter, but he’s shown enough positive signs to make him a player worth keeping around.

U Niko Goodrum

2020 stats: .184/.263/.335 (.598 OPS), 5 HR, 7 2B, 18 BB, 69 SO in 43 games.

Spring training stats: .159/.229/.273 (.502 OPS), 1 HR, 2 2B, 4 BB, 19 SO in 18 games.

Projected role: Super utility

How long will visions of 2018 and 2019 last if Goodrum continues to strike out at such an alarming rate? He’s a strong defender and a great person to have in the locker room, but Goodrum has to offer something at the plate to keep around as prospects continue to debut in the Old English D.

Now that the Tigers have kept five outfielders, Goodrum will likely only be used in the infield. Willi Castro, Candelario and Schoop won’t get many days off, and Harold Castro will be filling a similar role. What does that leave for Goodrum, especially if Paredes comes up at some point?

C Grayson Greiner

2020 stats: .118/.182/.333 (.515 OPS), 3 HR, 2 2B, 3 BB, 20 SO in 18 games.

Spring training stats: .375/.565/.750 (1.315 OPS), 2 HR, 0 2B, 6 BB, 5 SO in 13 games.

Projected role: Backup catcher

There was a four-way battle for the backup catcher job this spring, but it always felt like the Tigers would either choose Greiner or Jake Rogers.

Despite taking a pitch to the face and missing half the spring, Greiner did enough to run away with the job, hitting a pair of home runs and walking more than he struck out. Don’t expect an OPS north of .700 for the full season, but he’ll be strong defensively.

SP Matt Boyd

2020 stats: 6.71 ERA (5.78 FIP), 1.475 WHIP, 60 K, 22 BB in 60.1 innings.

Spring training stats: 2.45 ERA, 1.145 WHIP, 19 K, 6 BB in 18.1 innings.

Projected role: Starting rotation

Spring training numbers don’t mean a whole lot, but it’s certainly better to see Boyd have some success than get lit up again.

The 2020 season was an unmitigated disaster for the Tigers’ ace. His strikeout rate fell to an average level while the walks and home runs rose. That’s a dangerous combination.

He’ll get the Opening Day nod again Thursday. Hopefully he can keep the ball in the yard.

SP Tarik Skubal

2020 stats: 5.63 ERA (5.75 FIP), 1.219 WHIP, 37 K, 11 BB in 32 innings.

Spring training stats: 1.59 ERA, 1.176 WHIP, 18 K, 9 BB in 17 innings.

Projected role: Starting rotation

It wasn’t a given that Skubal would be in the Opening Day rotation after debuting (and struggling) last season. But he went out this spring and earned this spot.

Skubal’s ratios should be pretty solid, but short outings will keep him from being a true ace this season, if the spring is any indication. The strikeouts are exciting and the stuff is electric, but Skubal gets into deep counts, issues to many walks and sometimes struggles to put away hitters after getting ahead.

If Skubal can give the Tigers five solid innings on a regular basis, they’ll take it. But to make the next step toward ace potential, he needs to work deeper into games.

SP Julio Teheran

2020 stats: 10.05 ERA (8.62 FIP), 1.755 WHIP, 20 K, 16 BB in 31.1 innings.

Spring training stats: 5.52 ERA, 0.886 WHIP, 18 K, 4 BB in 14.2 innings.

Projected role: Starting rotation

Those spring stats don’t do justice to how good Teheran has been this month. His overall numbers are skewed by one disastrous inning in his final start -- otherwise, Teheran forced his way into the starting rotation.

Increased velocity was the early sign that Teheran might be able to get back to his pre-2020 form. He was a solid middle of the rotation option for the Atlanta Braves, and this spring, he even showed some new strikeout upside.

SP Jose Urena

2020 stats: 5.40 ERA (6.06 FIP), 1.500 WHIP, 15 K, 13 BB in 23.1 innings.

Spring training stats: 1.93 ERA, 1.143 WHIP, 5 K, 9 BB in 14 innings.

Projected role: Starting rotation

The Tigers moved on from Ivan Nova and signed a younger, less proven Ivan Nova.

OK, so maybe that’s selling Urena’s upside a bit short. But realistically, he’ll probably be a mid-4s ERA guy with low strikeouts and a high WHIP. Can he eat innings? Yes. Will the Tigers win many games with him on the mound? I’d bet against it.

SP Casey Mize

2020 stats: 6.99 ERA (6.47 FIP), 1.482, 26 K, 13 BB in 28.1 innings.

Spring training stats: 8.36 ERA, 1.929 WHIP, 21 K, 10 BB in 14 innings.

Projected role: Starting rotation

Are walks going to be an issue for Mize at the MLB level? His control and command were excellent in the minors, but ever since his promotion to the Tigers, he’s had some trouble staying in the strike zone.

Mize struggled through most of the spring until a nine-strikeout performance last outing. The injury to Spencer Turnbull might be the reason he’s in this rotation for Opening Day, but either way, his performance in April will determine if he stays here.

RP Gregory Soto

2020 stats: 4.30 ERA (3.76 FIP), 1.261 WHIP, 29 K, 13 BB in 23 innings.

Spring training stats: 2.70 ERA, 1.050 WHIP, 10 K, 4 BB in 6.2 innings.

Projected role: Late-inning relief

Nobody looks more electric when they’re on than Soto. He fires 100 mph from the left side with an absolutely devastating slider. When both are working, you can expect a quick, three-strikeout inning.

Like many fireballers, though, Soto can lose his control quickly. That’s how he ended up with a 4.30 ERA last season despite such a dominant start.

Soto wants the closer’s job, and spring was a good start to the audition.

RP Jose Cisnero

2020 stats: 3.03 ERA (2.65 FIP), 1.112 WHIP, 34 K, 10 BB in 29.2 innings.

Spring training stats: 2.45 ERA, 1.227 WHIP, 9 K, 7 BB in 7.1 innings.

Projected role: Late-inning relief

Cisnero is older than Soto, and that’s probably why he doesn’t get as much love. But he’s been every bit as effective since joining the Tigers.

Getting the walks under control was a key for Cisnero in 2020, but they were up in a small sample size this spring. Can he sustain a low walk rate for a 162-game season? That will be the X-factor.

RP Daniel Norris

2020 stats: 3.25 ERA (2.87 FIP), 1.157 WHIP, 28 K, 7 BB in 27.2 innings.

Spring training stats: 4.35 ERA, 1.355 WHIP, 12 K, 4 BB in 10.1 innings.

Projected role: Versatile reliever

Just because Norris didn’t become a top-of-the-rotation starter like his prospect pedigree suggested doesn’t mean he isn’t valuable to the Tigers.

Ever since they moved him out of the traditional starter’s role late in 2019, Norris has been one of the most effective pitchers on the roster. Now that he’s moved from opener to reliever, his stuff plays up, and his strikeout rate is rising.

RP Derek Holland

2020 stats: 6.86 ERA (6.14 FIP), 1.402 WHIP, 45 K, 15 BB in 40.2 innings.

Spring training stats: 0.00 ERA, 0.750 WHIP, 16 K, 1 BB in 9.1 innings.

Projected role: Versatile reliever

The Tigers probably didn’t expect to take Holland north to start April. He took that decision out of their hands this spring.

Featuring a revamped fastball and nasty off-speed stuff in shorter outings, Holland blew through opposing hitters all month, striking out 16 in 9.1 scoreless innings. Nobody expected this kind of dominance, but if it carries over into the regular season, the Tigers might really have a valuable asset.

RP Buck Farmer

2020 stats: 3.80 ERA (4.41 FIP), 1.172 WHIP, 14 K, 5 BB in 21.1 innings.

Spring training stats: 12.79 ERA, 2.211 WHIP, 5 K, 5 BB in 6.1 innings.

Projected role: Middle-inning relief

The strikeout rate plummeted for Farmer in 2020, and even though it was a shorter season, it’s cause for concern.

Soto, Cisnero and others have seemingly passed Farmer in the high-leverage pecking order. A difficult spring didn’t help. He’ll need to recapture his swing-and-miss stuff from 2019 to secure a bigger role.

RP Tyler Alexander

2020 stats: 3.96 ERA (5.26 FIP), 1.321 WHIP, 34 K, 9 BB in 36.1 innings.

Spring training stats: 3.46, 1.000 WHIP, 10 K, 1 BB in 13 innings.

Projected role: Long reliever

When the Tigers need to bridge the gap between starters and the bullpen because Skubal or Mize only lasted a few innings, Alexander will be the guy.

He’s not overpowering, but Alexander can keep the Tigers in games and eat innings.

RP Bryan Garcia

2020 stats: 1.66 ERA (3.61 FIP), 1.292 WHIP, 12 K, 10 BB in 21.2 innings.

Spring training stats: 4.26 ERA, 2.053 WHIP, 6 K, 5 BB in 6.1 innings.

Projected role: Late-inning relief

Will he start the season where he ended 2020, as the primary closer? Garcia’s strikeout and walk rates were both concerning despite his strong surface numbers last year. Those issues didn’t appear to be fixed in the spring, either.

The Tigers drafted Garcia as a possible closer of the future, so it’s nice that he’s already risen to that level. Now we’ll see if he can hold onto the job.

RP Michael Fulmer

2020 stats: 8.78 ERA (6.91 FIP), 2.060 WHIP, 20 K, 12 BB in 27.2 innings.

Spring training stats: 7.62 ERA, 1.538 WHIP, 13 K, 6 BB in 13 innings.

Projected role: Long relief

It was impossible for the Tigers to keep Fulmer in the starting rotation after 2020 and this spring. Now he’ll have to try to carve out a role in the bullpen.

There were signs late in the spring that Fulmer could be a valuable reliever, but the strikeout and walk rates just weren’t at a level sustainable for a starting pitcher.


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