It isn’t the offseason without Detroit making a splash with a big bat.
The Tigers welcomed Yoenis Céspedes to the Motor City on Thursday, the Oakland Athletic turned Red Sox turned Tiger that all fans from Detroit learned to hate in the past three seasons. Céspedes now joins the Tigers in an offseason move that may have angered some with the lack of a bat instead of an arm.
But fans may not realize what kind of an arm they are getting.
Céspedes wowed the baseball world in 2014 with a 300-foot missile of a throw from left field to home plate in a game against the Los Angeles Angels. The Athletic at the time misplayed a hop, gathered the ball off the ground and fired a rocket straight to catcher Stephen Vogt without a bounce. His first of many impressive plays from the outfield, Céspedes led the league in 2014 with 16 outfield assists.
The annual big-bat acquisition came with the 29-year old Cuban as well. In his career, Céspedes boasts a .263 average, with 71 home runs and 262 RBI’s. He batted in the three spot in his stint in Oakland and Boston, and had a .316 on base percentage.
Obviously, Céspedes may need to move aside for Mr. Miguel Cabrera, who is probably not leaving his position in the lineup for the fourth-year veteran. Expect Céspedes to bat fifth, directly after Victor Martinez (if he stays with Detroit in 2015), taking over the role of phenom J. D. Martinez and sliding him to the sixth spot. Yoenis had enough power as a righty to drive the ball over the fence in the moderately-friendly O.Co Coliseum, and shouldn’t should not have much of an issue at Comerica Park with similar dimensions.
Simply put, Céspedes comes as a replacement for ex-Tiger Torii Hunter. At age 40, Hunter is already on the decline with power numbers and fielding ability. After leaving Detroit in the past weeks to return to the Minnesota Twins, Detroit found a replacement for the gap in the outfield. Céspedes fits that gap nicely, who started as a player in center field before Oakland relegated him to left. With an outfield of J. D. Martinez, Céspedes and Rajai Davis, the Tigers have strong arms with speed unseen in the previous years.
Fans can grovel about the trading of Rick Porcello, and the uncertainty of Max Scherzer’s future. It is understandable to see the “same old Tigers” picking up a big bat where arms in the bullpen (and perhaps even the rotation) are needed. But with the loss of three outfielders, Céspedes’ acquisition comes as a healthy welcome, a man who has the potential to become a franchise Tiger in a league that is all too prone to leapfrogging.
Richie Cozzolino is the co-host of Tiger Talk for Impact Sports