Desmond Jennings looked like a possible fit for the Detroit Tigers, but he agreed to a minor league deal with the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday evening.
I wrote just yesterday on these very electronic pages that Desmond Jennings could be a fit in center field for the Detroit Tigers and speculated that he might be willing to accept a minor league deal.
It turns out that he was willing to sign a minor league deal, but it won’t be with the Tigers. Jennings agreed to a contract with the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday evening. Chris Cotillo and Jon Heyman had the news on Twitter.
We don’t know the inner workings of the deal — whether or not the Tigers were involved — but it certainly seems like the Tigers could have landed him with similar terms. Jennings probably wanted two things: (1) the most guaranteed money possible and (2) the easiest path to the major leagues.
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It’s not clear how much money Jennings is set to earn with the Reds if he makes the major league roster, but none of it is guaranteed up front so item number one probably didn’t come into play. The Reds are thinner on talent so he might have an easier path to the major leagues there, but they have Adam Duvall and Billy Hamilton likely to be locking down two outfield spots. And with Hamilton in center, it looks like he’d have to make the club as a left fielder.
The Tigers, meanwhile, will be conducting a wide open competition for center field. Jennings, had he signed with the Tigers, would have entered spring training as the favorite to win that job (if he is indeed healthy). Detroit also has the extra advantage of being a competitive ball club. A place a player could come to win.
Perhaps the Tigers were involved and Jennings decided to go elsewhere. That’s certainly a possibility but it would be disappointing if the Tigers simply didn’t pursue him as an option.
Jennings was never going to be the answer for all the Tigers’ problems. He’s a flawed player with a ripe history of injury (the gains would be marginal), but he would help bolster the club’s weakest position (and depth) while adding only a minimal amount to the payroll.
The Tigers would like to reduce payroll, not add to it, but it seems disingenuous to declare themselves competitive while being unwilling to improve the club over a million (or two) dollars.