Predicting the Detroit Tigers’ Opening Day Roster


Predicting the Detroit Tigers’ Opening Day 25-man roster ahead of the 2016 MLB season.

We’re still 106 days from Opening Day of the 2016 Detroit Tigers season (and something like 60 days away from Spring Training), but the club appears to have their roster set for the upcoming season.

Here’s a prediction for who could make the final cut and earn a spot on the big league roster.


Catcher: James McCann

First base: Miguel Cabrera

Second base: Ian Kinsler

Shortstop: Jose Iglesias

Third base: Nick Castellanos

Designated hitter: Victor Martinez

Bench: Jarrod Saltalamacchia

Bench: Andrew Romine

Most of these names are pretty obvious. The starting infield (plus designated hitter) will be the same as last year, with the exception of Alex Avila moving on in free agency and McCann taking on the starting role full-time.

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Expect Saltalamacchia to get his share of starts against right-handed pitchers with Romine filling in for defense and allowing for days off.


Left field: Tyler Collins

Center field: Anthony Gose

Right field: J.D. Martinez

Bench: Cameron Maybin

Bench: Mike Aviles

As was written on these very electronic pages earlier today, the outfield is set up to be heavily platooned, so the starter/bench designation here doesn’t apply in the same way it does with the infielders. Only Martinez should be expected to be a true everyday starter.

Aviles will also serve as extra depth in the infield, but probably won’t start over any of the existing infielders with any sort of regularity (barring injury).

Starting Pitchers

RHP: Justin Verlander

RHP: Jordan Zimmerman

RHP: Anibal Sanchez

LHP: Daniel Norris

RHP: Mike Pelfrey

No surprises here. Verlander, Sanchez, and the deadline-acquisition Norris return to be key pieces of the rotation. Zimmerman was signed for a $110 million commitment to be a front-line starter. Pelfrey was given a modest (but not-insignificant) two-year contract to serve as the team’s fifth starter.

Relief Pitchers

RHP: Francisco Rodriguez

RHP: Mark Lowe

LHP: Justin Wilson

RHP: Alex Wilson

RHP: Buck Farmer

LHP: Blaine Hardy

LHP: Matt Boyd

K-Rod, Lowe, and Justin Wilson were all offseason acquisitions. The trio instantly become the Detroit Tigers’ best relievers, so they’ll work the late innings. Rodriguez is obviously the closer, but it’s not 100% clear what Lowe’s and Wilson’s roles will be. They’ll probably platoon the seventh and eighth innings, mixing and matching depending on the handedness of the opposing hitters.

The Tigers could easily elect to carry Bruce Rondon instead of Farmer or Boyd (who could work in AAA as starting pitching depth), but he (i.e. Rondon) was sent home by the organization last year for “low effort level”, and has been involved in altercations in the Venezuelan Winter League this offseason. Rondon still has a couple of option years remaining, so he could start the year in the minor leagues and attempt to prove he’s ready to return.

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We’ll have to see if any position battles pop up during spring. One or two of the bullpen spots could be in doubt, and maybe Bryan Holaday could force a battle for the backup catcher spot (but probably not).