Detroit Tigers add veteran power by signing 1B C.J. Cron, 2B Jonathan Schoop

Anthony Fenech
Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Tigers continued crossing items off their holiday shopping list this weekend by agreeing to deals with a pair of veteran infielders who will step into their 2020 starting lineup as much-needed offensive reinforcements.

As of Saturday morning, the Tigers were finalizing one-year deals with first baseman C.J. Cron and second baseman Jonathan Schoop, according to multiple persons with knowledge of the situation. Both deals are for $6.1 million, according to multiple persons with knowledge of the situation.

To make room on the 40-man roster, the Tigers designated utility man Brandon Dixon for assignment. He led the 2019 Tigers with 15 home runs.

Cron and Schoop will assume both of the team’s open positions on the right side of the infield.

Cron, who turns 30 on Jan. 5, has put up consistent numbers in his six-year career with the Angels, Rays and Twins, hitting .258 with 114 home runs with 365 RBIs. In 2019 with Minnesota, Cron hit .253 with 25 home runs and 78 RBIs, marking his second consecutive season with 25-plus home runs.

Given his power, Cron figures to hit in the middle of the Tigers’ batting order – perhaps behind designated hitter Miguel Cabrera, who customarily hits third. He played a career-high 117 games at first base for Minnesota last season.

Schoop – pronounced scope — is a .257 hitter in seven seasons with the Orioles and most recently, the Twins. In 2019, Schoop hit .256 with 23 home runs and 59 RBIs in the back-end of the Twins’ lineup.

Though Schoop doesn’t have extensive experience hitting leadoff – his career on-base percentage is .295 – he could be an option for manager Ron Gardenhire atop the batting order. The more likely scenario is he joins Cron in the middle of the Tigers’ batting order.

Minnesota Twins' Jonathan Schoop celebrates as he walks up to the dugout after hitting a two-run home run off Texas Rangers' Mike Minor during the seventh inning of a baseball game in Arlington, Texas, Friday, Aug. 16, 2019. The shot scored Marwin Gonzalez. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Schoop has averaged 24.8 home runs per season since 2015; he was an American League All-Star with the Orioles in 2017 before being traded to the Brewers midseason.

With the additions, the Tigers have emphasized their biggest weakness in 2019: Power.

Last season, the Tigers hit 149 home runs, second-to-last in baseball, and less than half that of Minnesota’s 307 home runs, which led the majors.

Both Cron and Schoop were part of that Twins’ team. Last year, they were complementary pieces. This year, they will be counted on duplicating that power and stepping into more prominent roles on a team that is in big need of veteran stability.

During the winter meetings earlier this month, the Tigers addressed their catching situation by signing career backup Austin Romine, most likely to be the starter.

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