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Detroit Tigers Roster Taking Shape Under New GM Scott Harris

The Detroit Tigers recently hired former San Francisco Giants, former general manager, Scott Harris as their President of Baseball Operations. Harris replaced former Tigers general manager and Executive Vice President Al Avila after he spent 22 seasons with the Tigers. Harris has said that he intends to hire a general manager during the offseason. During his three seasons with the Giants, Harris oversaw a team that made the playoffs only once. Now, Scott Harris looks to put his personal stamp on the Detroit Tigers roster.

Avila was the general manager of the Tigers beginning in 2015 when he replaced David Dombrowski who left to take the job with the Boston Red Sox. Tigers Chairman and CEO Chris Ilitch released a statement regarding the team letting Avila go. "Once I decided to make a change, I sat down with Al and thanked him for his nearly 22 years of service to our organization. Al’s loyalty and dedication has served as an example to all during his time as a leader in our baseball operations department."

To Fix the Detroit Tigers Roster, Scott Harris has Work to Do

The 35-year-old Harris will be tasked with resurrecting the Tigers franchise that had expectations of winning headed into the 2021-22 MLB season. The team would finish the season with a 66-96 record, for fourth place in the American League Central. The manager of the Tigers A.J. Hinch, who has previously managed the Houston Astros, has signed a contract with the team prior to the start of the 2020-21 season. The length of the contract was not known until June of this year when Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the contract is for five seasons.

Rob Metzler will be the assistant general manager and vice president under Harris. Metzler has plenty of experience in a front-office role as he was the senior director of scouting for the Tampa Bay Rays for the past seven years. Prior to that, he drafted well enough to see the Rays have one of the best farm systems in baseball year in and year out. He is expected to oversee the amateur draft and international scouting for the Tigers.

Scott Harris Adds Familiar Name to Detroit Tigers Roster

Harris wasted no time in bringing in left-handed outfielder Steele Walker from the Giants in exchange for cash considerations. Walker, who is 26 years old, was drafted 46th overall in the 2018 MLB draft by the Chicago White Sox. Walker had limited playing time for the Texas Rangers in 2022, playing in five games and hitting one home run, and scoring one RBI. He will probably start the 2022-23 season with the Toledo Mud Hens, the AAA affiliate of the Tigers.

The farm system is an issue that needs to be addressed under Harris and Metzler. In the last five seasons, the Tigers’ farm system has ranked in the bottom third in the major leagues. Headed into the 2021-22 preseason the Tigers valuation ranked number 13 in all of baseball with a value of $221 million. The team’s farm system is now ranked number 24 with a value of $129 million. The Tigers have a 7.5% chance of drafting number one overall in the 2023 MLB draft.

So, why has the Tigers’ farm system fallen so far behind the rest of the league? The fact that the Tigers were sellers at the trade deadline was one reason for this drop in the team’s farm system ranking. First basemen Spencer Torkelson, who was drafted first overall out of Arizona State University in the 2020 MLB draft graduated from the farm system. He struggled to adjust to playing at the major league level in 2021. In 360 plate appearances, Torkelson batted .203 with a .285 OBP. He had a WAR of -1.3. After being sent down to AAA Toledo in July.

Center fielder Riley Greene is also a recent graduate of the Tigers farm system. As compared to Torkelson, in 376 plate appearances Greene had a .253 batting average with a .321 OBP. Greene made several impressive defensive plays in the spacious center field ground at his home field of Comerica Park. Greene is looking to build upon a rookie season that showed that he is capable of more.

The Detroit chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America named him Tiger of the year. Greene received seven of the 24 first-place votes. Pitcher Mark "The Bird" Fidrych was the last Tiger to win this award in 1976. The late Fidrych also won the American League pitching title in 1976 with a 2.34 ERA. Fidrych was forced to retire after the 1981 season due to a torn rotator cuff that was not diagnosed. The 2022 Tigers used 17 different starting pitchers during the season.

That is not to say that Greene did not struggle at times during his first season. After breaking his foot due to taking a foul tip during spring training, the 22-year-old played in 93 games during the 2021-22 MLB season. At times he struggled with plate discipline. For a perfectionist, this is something that Greene will have to learn to deal with.

The Detroit Tigers roster will also have to find themselves another third baseman. The team decided not to tender Jeimer Candelario a contract for the 2022-23 season. The 28-year-old from New York, New York has been the primary third-basemen for the Tigers for the past five seasons. During the COVID-19 shortened season of 58 games, Candelario batted .297 and had an OPS of .872.

It is still early in the baseball off-season. Scott Harris has plenty of time to make the moves that he sees necessary to rebuild the Detroit Tigers roster. The Tigers farm system needs to be restocked as there have been young pitchers that have graduated to the major leagues. This will take time.

Let us know your thoughts on Scott Harris and the Detroit Tigers roster in the comments below!

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