Detroit Tigers should refrain from re-signing catcher Austin Romine


A reconciliation between the Detroit Tigers and Austin Romine is not necessary and would be downright foolish.

As Detroit Tigers general manager Al Avila tries to piece together a somewhat intriguing product for fans to enjoy heading into the 2021 Major League Baseball season, one glaring need remains; a catcher.  In fact, not just one catcher, but the team needs to decide on a pair of catchers that they’d like to start the new season with behind the plate.

The thought of having to suffer through an entire season with a combination of Grayson Greiner, Jake Rogers, and Eric Haase behind the plate makes me nauseous.

If the organization remains fixated on refusing to make a splash in free agency, the obvious and clear option in my eyes is to re-sign current free agent, Austin Romine, that is until I took a closer look.

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Although the veteran catcher struggled at the plate in September this past summer, hitting a disastrous .157 and stashing a stomach-churning .157/.185/.176 line for the month, in his defense, it doesn’t depict his season as a whole.

Romine made 37 starts in 2020, earning a .238/.259/.323 line.  Nothing there jumps out at you and screams ‘must-sign,’ but he hit .283 during August and absolutely raked while facing left-handed pitching earning a stellar .318/.348/.455 line.

That being said, Romine’s strikeout rate of 34.8% had been the worst of his career in 2020, but a good sign had been his career-high 47.6% hard-hit rate when he did make contact.  That did translate into plenty of success early on in the season for the Detroit Tigers.

Now, some more bad news.

After posting a respectable 4.8 framing grade in 2018 with the New York Yankees, he’s slipped in that category according to FanGraphs; he’s become a below-average framer behind the dish at -3.1 last season with the Detroit Tigers.  Romine has a career average wins above replacement of 0.2 but produced a negative -0.5 number in 2020.

To put it simply, the Detroit Tigers can get better production elsewhere for a similar, and in some cases cheaper rate.

Since the Detroit Tigers refuse to sign a catcher like J.T. Realmuto or even Wilson Ramos, a reunion with Alex Avila is becoming a real possibility.  If that is the case, it would be the third time around for the veteran catcher in Detroit.

It’s a move that does make some sense.  He’s better than Romine behind the plate, has the ability to bring the youthful Tiger pitching staff along, and regularly maintains a plus .300 on-base percentage year after year.

Many would feel an Avila signing would be more about a father keeping his son employed, but he’s a better option than Romine at this point, and likely for a fraction of the price.

light. Related Story. J.T. Realmuto was the right signing but not for Chris Ilitch

Alternative veteran catching options are Jason Castro, Kurt Suzuki, Robinson Chirinos, Tyler Flowers, and Matt Wieters.