Detroit Tigers: Austin Romine proving to be a great offseason acquisition

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

Detroit Tigers catcher Austin Romine is enjoying an excellent start to his first season in the Motor City.

I don’t need to remind everyone of former Detroit Tigers utility-man Andrew Romine.  The switch-hitting ‘jack of all trades’ earned himself a roster spot for years due to his ability to play any position on the ball diamond.

This past Winter Detroit Tigers general manager Al Avila understood the need to bring in a better catching option from the likes of John Hicks, Grayson Greiner, and Jake Rogers from a year ago and signed Andrew’s brother Austin.

To be candid, I wasn’t too fond of the signing and the arrival of another Romine, even understanding the organization needed to upgrade the position after allowing James McCann to walk and become an all-star for the rival Chicago White Sox.

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Bringing in another Romine just left a sour thought of Andrew’s limited offensive abilities in my mind.  One thing that Andrew could do is play exceptional defense.  So far, in 2020, his brother isn’t just hitting the seams off of the baseball; he’s calling an extraordinary game behind the plate.  He’s proving to be a significant upgrade defensively at the catcher position for the Tigers, which is the primary reason Avila signed him, but his hot bat becomes the cherry-on-top.

Last season with the New York Yankees Romine hit eight home runs while driving in 35 along with stashing a career-best .281/.310/.439 line. Through nine games with the Tigers, he’s elevated his batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage stashing a stellar .313/.333/.469 line.

The right-handed hitting catcher is also raking against right-handed pitching, hitting a stellar .333 with one home run and five RBI’s. In comparison, Romine is just hitting .200 against left-handers this season, maybe leaving an opportunity for Greiner to see some work moving forward.

Greiner is 0-10 to start the season making 13 plate appearances. Despite only hitting .139 facing left-handed pitching in 2019 that is where Grayson may find some work.  It’s not ideal, but Romine will need some rest, and the Tigers don’t have any other catching options in Detroit at the moment.

If Greiner continues to struggle, expect another Jake Rogers experiment this summer in Detroit.  It wouldn’t be the worst thing to have Rogers working with a veteran like Romine on a daily basis.

Romine is carrying a perfect fielding percentage thus far and has also displayed average framing abilities according to Baseball Savant.  Romine has provided the Tigers with a 0.6 Def (fielding and positional adjustment), behind the plate, much better than the negative numbers Hicks, Greiner, and Rogers gave Detroit last season.  Two years ago, Romine produced a 9.1 Def, and 3.9 just a year ago.

The 31-year old has handled this young Tigers pitching staff great, especially starter Spencer Turnbull, the young flame-thrower Gregory Soto, and set-up man Buck Farmer in the late innings as the team tries to get the baseball to closer, Joe Jimenez.

Next. JaCoby Jones off to fiery start in the 2020 season. dark

Romine is proving to be a great signing by Avila in the early going of 2020.  If there isn’t a trade market for a right-handed hitting catcher at the deadline, Romine will be a candidate to be re-signed at seasons end.  His one-year $4 million deal appears to be a bargain.