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Rival Roundup, Vol. 16: Inge-ing closer to Opening Day

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The free-agent market is finally in full swing, so of course, it’s a quiet week in the division.

Kansas City Royals v Detroit Tigers Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

Welcome to Rival Roundup, the weekly program that never changes and gives Tawny an exercise in creativity when she tries to describe it each Monday.

Chicago White Sox

  • Jonathan Lucroy joins Chicago on a minor-league contract.
  • It was not that long ago when Lucroy was the premier backstop on the trade market, prompting a controversial vetoing and eventual trade to Texas. Since then, he’s completely cratered, providing negative value by bWAR’s methods, and barely breaking even on fWAR.
  • Yasmani Grandal is obviously the incumbent starting catcher, but with James McCann off to Queens, backup duties are currently falling upon Zack Collins and his career -0.5 fWAR. The other two catchers on the 40-man are Seby Zavala and Yermin Mercedes, a pair of fringe major-leaguers in the later end of their 20’s. It’s fair to believe that Collins’ main competition would be Lucroy and not one of the other two.

Cleveland.

  • Cleveland sent out minor-league contracts to a handful of familiar names - Bryan Shaw, Heath Hembree, and D.J. Johnson, all relief pitchers. Shaw and Hembree have a combined 13 years of big-league service; Shaw is more familiar with Ohio than anywhere else in the league. Hembree is struggling to latch on since helping Boston win it all in 2018. Johnson broke in with the Rockies that same year, after bouncing around various minor-league organizations (including ours!)

Detroit Tigers

  • I always felt like Brandon Inge would have made a fun Piranha; he was a Detroit mainstay for the entirety of the 00’s, hopping around the diamond and flexing his defensive versatility. Now he’s back in Michigan, having joined the Wolverine coaching staff as a volunteer. Is this the first small step towards a big-time managerial position? We will have remembered him when, unless you didn’t read this article and started following baseball after his retirement in 2013.
  • Old friend Jonathan Schoop is heading back to Tiger Town.
  • It’s yet another one-year agreement for Schoop, who will be 29 this season. Schoop has been a consistently league-average hitter since his debut in 2013, but hasn’t quite recaptured that 2017 magic that saw him win an All-Star nod and a share of the MVP voting.

Kansas City Royals

  • The Royals scoop themselves up a little slice of Hanser Alberto.
  • Alberto has been around the block a little bit off the bench; 2021 would be his sixth major-league season, but only the ‘19 campaign saw him starting more than 54 games a year. That season, he put up just shy of 3.0 bWAR while traipsing all around the diamond and even recording a pitching appearance.

Put yourself into our rivals’ shoes — who do you think has a big move left to make this offseason? Be it through free agency, or trade, or aggressive promotion - pick a rival who you think will splash back into the headlines before Opening Day.

Happy roundup-ing!