In mid-March of 2013, the Detroit Tigers decided to release Brennan Boesch after signing Torii Hunter to play right field and handing Andy Dirks the keys to the job in left field. Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski implied that the team simply did not have the need for another left-handed hitting outfielder at the time, which therefore left Boesch the odd man out. Now, just 12 months later, the Tigers are desperate for another left-handed bat. It is truly amazing what a difference a year can make.
As of right now, the Tigers are seemingly prepared to head north with the left-handed hitting Tyler Collins to platoon with the right-handed Rajai Davis in left field. Collins has certainly played well enough to earn a spot on the Tigers’ 25-man roster, but there are those who believe that he would benefit from beginning the season in the minor leagues as he has not played above Double-A. Collins also has a bit of a reputation for being a streaky hitter.
Moreover, the Tigers have made it known that a move could still happen between now and Opening Day that could bump Collins down to Triple-A. If the Tigers do decide to bring in another outfielder, it should be none other than their old friend Boesch.
Boesch is currently in camp with the Los Angeles Angels and is batting a healthy .270 with one home run through 37 at-bats. However, he is fighting tooth and nail for a roster spot with Matt Long, J.B. Shuck and Collin Cowgill. Long and Shuck have been outperforming Boesch up to this point, and there simply will not be enough room on the Angels’ 25-man roster for all of them.
Furthermore, Boesch has made it clear over the years that he sees himself as an everyday player, so he might be unhappy with a bench role or a minor league assignment. If Boesch does not make the Angels’ team, he can opt out of his minor league contract on Mar. 30. If such a scenario is to unfold, the Tigers should be the first team to call him.
Obviously Boesch’s final season in Detroit did not go as well as everyone hoped it would as he batted just .240/.286/.372 with only 12 home runs and 54 RBIs in 2012. However, it is important to note that he was recovering from a thumb injury that season, and he hit 16 home runs in just 115 games the year before which would have easily put him over 20 HRs if he would have stayed healthy for the entire season.
Boesch also slugged .529 through 23 games for the New York Yankees last season before shoulder issues ultimately brought an end to his stint in the Bronx. He can be a very formidable presence at the plate when he is at full strength.
Boesch will turn only 29 years old next month, and if he is healthy, there is no telling how high the ceiling might be for him. He could very well be the thunderous left-handed bat that the Tigers have been yearning for. If the opportunity to bring him back to Detroit presents itself, the Tigers must not miss out.