On Friday, the Detroit Tigers opted to send left-handed pitcher Jose Alvarez to the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for infielder Andrew Romine. The switch-hitting Romine will now become one of the top candidates to fill the Tigers’ shortstop vacancy. The question, however, is whether or not Romine is capable of holding down the fort until Jose Iglesias returns, which will either be towards the end of this season or in 2015.
The 28-year-old Romine is known to have a good glove, but he is a very light-hitter. He has spent parts of the last four seasons with the Angels, but he has never played in more than 47 games in a season. He has a lifetime .250/.303/.270 slash line at the major league level, and has yet to hit even a single home run. He has a healthy lifetime average of .279 in the minor leagues, but he has never notched more than five HRs in a single minor league season. Hence, Romine will most likely remind Tigers fans of longtime utility man Ramon Santiago, who the Tigers finally parted ways with this past offseason.
It is also possible that Danny Worth or Hernan Perez, both right-handed hitting middle infielders, could crack the Tigers’ 25-man roster and platoon with Romine at shortstop to help take some of the weight off of his shoulders.
The fact that Romine is a good defender will most likely result in the Tigers having more patience with him. Romine has been fortunate enough to land with a team that has a very powerful lineup, which features the thunderous bats of Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Austin Jackson, Ian Kinsler and Torii Hunter.
Therefore, the Tigers can afford to a carry a light-hitter, and they have been more interested in finding a shortstop who can catch the ball rather than one who can hit it. They have seemingly succeeded in finding a player who fits that mold by acquiring Romine. If Romine plays solid defense, one would be inclined to think that his job should stay relatively secure.
After all, the Tigers were not expecting huge offensive numbers from Iglesias in the first place. Iglesias’ most valuable asset was his glove, and the Tigers were depending on it to shore up their infield and use it to the benefit of pitchers such as Rick Porcello who pitch to contact and induce ground balls.
At any rate, Romine gives the Tigers a very solid defender, and anything he can do with the bat will most likely be considered a bonus. That said, Romine cannot be an “automatic out” either. The Tigers would probably like to see him maintain a batting average around the .240-.250 mark.
If Romine does a less-than-stellar job, and an upgrade is absolutely essential, it is very possible that the Tigers may then explore the possibility of signing Stephen Drew after the June draft if he still remains unsigned at that point.