Members of the Detroit Tigers were doing their best not to gloat over late Monday’s trade with the Tampa Bay Rays for former All-Star outfielder Austin Meadows.
The 26-year-old Meadows has received MVP votes in two of the past three seasons and tied for ninth in the American League with 109 runs driven in last season while smacking 27 home runs in 142 games.
“I love his bat,” Detroit manager A.J. Hinch said before the club’s 5-3 exhibition win Tuesday against the New York Yankees. “He’s a high-end guy for us and he’s going to fit nicely somewhere in the top half of our order.
“I know we added a big bat at a really fun time as we get close to breaking camp. Being able to pull off getting an All-Star, a guy that’s hit 25 plus homers, 100 plus RBIs off a playoff team is unique.”
For the Tigers, the cost to get Meadows was nominal. Infielder Isaac Paredes has put up good minor-league numbers, but the 23-year-old has not hit at the Major League level and plays a position where the Tigers have plenty of depth in the system.
“We do feel we have a little depth there,” Tigers’ general manager Al Avila said. “We have some younger guys coming. You have to keep that pipeline going. That made us feel a bit more comfortable making this trade.”
Detroit also handed over a Competitive Balance B selection, which is squeezed between the second and third rounds of the Major League Baseball Draft. It was a bonus pick given to the Tigers.
The toughest part for Avila might have been getting owner Chris Ilitch to sign off on adding a player to the payroll set to make $4 million this season, but still under team control through 2024.
“We felt comfortable we got a good player,” Avila said. “More importantly, we wanted a guy who could produce for us.
“He’s a legitimate Major League player. A guy we feel will add to our offence.”
This is not the first time the left-hand hitting Meadows has been traded. A first-round pick by Pittsburgh in 2013 going ninth overall, he was sent to Tampa as part of the package for pitcher Chris Archer.
“I think, for me, I have been traded before, so that kind of helps me get my feet under me a little quicker,” Meadows said. “I think being traded in general can shock you.”
But Detroit is not an organization he is unfamiliar with. Younger brother Parker Meadows, who is a 6-foot-5, 205-pound outfielder, having was second-round pick by the Tigers in 2018.
“You’ve got the Meadows brothers playing for the Tigers,” the 6-foot-3, 225-pound Meadows said. “I’m excited to get here, get to know guys and get going.”
The Tigers did not play Meadows on Tuesday and opted to keep him in Lakeland, FL to workout as he recovers from some quad issues.
Hinch said he might rest him a day during the season-opening series against the Chicago White Sox, but he’s expected to be in the lineup for Friday’s season opener.
“I know it’s a really good, young group here and I’m excited to be part of it,” Meadows said. “Bring some power and I think, for me, I had a good year last year driving guys in. For me, to finish the job, three-four (lineup) hole hitter and come over here and provide that pop. Stay on the field and stay healthy.”
The Tigers announced the signing of right-handed pitcher Spencer Turnbull to a two-year deal on Tuesday and thus avoided arbitration. Turnbull is coming off Tommy John surgery last July and is not expected back into the lineup until the second half of the season at the earliest.
Also on Tuesday, Hinch announced that right-handed pitchers Jacob Barnes, Will Vest and Drew Hutchison have all made the roster to start the season. Teams will have an expanded 28-man roster for the first month of the season.