Detroit Tigers Opening Day roster: Meet the 30-man squad, what they bring to the table

Evan Petzold
Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Tigers are ready for Opening Day.

The 30-man roster features 16 pitchers, two catchers, seven infielders, four outfielders and one utility player. Their season-opening first pitch is scheduled for 6:10 p.m. Friday against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park.

Detroit's taxi squad players, who can travel for road games, are right-hander Anthony Castro, outfielder Derek Hill and catcher Eric Haase. Two weeks into the season, the roster will be trimmed to 28 players, then down to 26 two weeks later.

Starting lineup

C Austin Romine

Age: 31; MLB debut: 2011.

Vitals: 6-foot-1, 220 pounds.

2019 stats: .281 batting average, 8 HR, 35 RBIs.

[Austin Romine relishes chance to start after years as a backup ]

The buzz: A veteran presence, Romine becomes a first-year starter after eight years and 368 games with the New York Yankees. Watch as he helps fellow catchers Grayson Greiner and Jake Rogers learn the ropes.

Tigers first baseman C.J. Cron rounds the bases after his homer  the intrasquad scrimmage at Comerica Park on Saturday, July 11, 2020.

1B C.J. Cron

Age: 30; MLB debut: 2014.

Vitals: 6-4, 235.

2019 stats: .253, 25 HR, 78 RBIs.

The buzz: Cron has home-run pop and should do well behind Miguel Cabrera in the clean-up role. He has 55 homers in the last two seasons.

[ C.J. Cron brings crucial home run pop to meager lineup: 'He's fun to watch' ]

2B Jonathan Schoop

Age: 28; MLB debut: 2013.

Vitals: 6-1, 225.

2019 stats: .256, 23 HR, 59 RBIs.

The buzz: Like Romine and Cron, Schoop is a new addition to the team. He hated to sit out during intrasquad games, so don't be surprised to see him as an everyday second baseman.

[ Jonathan Schoop broke Detroit Tigers fans hearts in 2014. Now he’s trying to mend them ]

3B Jeimer Candelario

Age: 26; MLB debut: 2016.

Vitals: 6-1, 221.

2019 stats: .203, 8 HR, 32 RBIs.

The buzz: Candelario beat out Dawel Lugo in summer camp. Prospect Isaac Paredes could be major-league ready as soon as next season, so Candelario must improve at the plate. His batting average has decreased each season since coming to the Tigers in 2017.

[ Jeimer Candelario's secret edge in position battle: Tips from an All-Star ]

Shortstop Niko Goodrum

SS Niko Goodrum

Age: 28; MLB debut: 2017.

Vitals: 6-3, 218.

2019 stats: .248, 12 HR, 45 RBIs.

The buzz: The shortened schedule serves as Goodrum's opportunity for a breakout campaign. He has 28 homers and 98 RBIs in 243 combined games in 2018 and 2019.

[ Niko Goodrum could be the leader to pull team out of losing mentality ]

LF Christin Stewart

Age: 26; MLB debut: 2018.

Vitals: 6-0, 205.

2019 stats: .233, 10 HR, 40 RBIs.

The buzz: Stewart hit .236 against left-handers as a rookie and claims he's more comfortable this time around. He looked good against lefty Matthew Boyd in intrasquad scrimmages.

[ Christin Stewart knows he needs to 'put the ball in the seats' this season ]

Detroit Tigers JaCoby Jones catches a fly ball during an intrasquad game at training camp at Comerica Park in Detroit, Wednesday, July 8, 2020.

CF JaCoby Jones

Age: 28; MLB debut: 2016.

Vitals: 6-2, 201.

2019 stats: .235, 11 HR, 26 RBIs.

The buzz: A player who keeps improving, Jones could find his groove in the power category. He might be one of the tougher nine-hole hitters in the majors this season.

[ For JaCoby Jones, timing is everything as he returns from wrist fracture ]

RF Cameron Maybin

Age: 33; MLB debut: 2007.

Vitals: 6-3, 215.

2019 stats: .285, 11 HR, 32 RBIs.

The buzz: The Tigers brought back Maybin for his third stint with the team. His numbers were declining until a spike last season with the Yankees. The 13-year veteran is a well-respected leader in the clubhouse.

[ Cameron Maybin, Austin Romine ready to be leaders the Detroit Tigers' rebuild needs ]

DH Miguel Cabrera

Age: 37; MLB debut: 2003.

Vitals: 6-4, 249.

2019 stats: .282, 12 HR, 59 RBIs.

The buzz: There's no better way to put it — Cabrera needs to stay healthy for the Tigers to find success. He looks much slimmer this year, so that's a positive sign.

[ Miguel Cabrera is a sight of strength, but baseball remains in vulnerable place ]


C Grayson Greiner

Age: 27; MLB debut: 2018.

Vitals: 6-6, 239.

2019 stats: .202, 5 HR, 19 RBIs.

The buzz: Greiner is the most MLB-ready catcher outside of Romine, but he'll have some competition for the backup role from prospect Jake Rogers.

Detroit Tigers center fielder Victor Reyes catches a fly ball during intrasquad action Thursday, July 16, 2020 at Comerica Park in Detroit.

OF Victor Reyes

Age: 25; MLB debut: 2018.

Vitals: 6-5, 215.

2019 stats: .304, 3 HR, 25 RBIs.

The buzz: Reyes hit .357 in 12 spring training games. The switch-hitter looks more prepared and will get a chance to compete with Maybin for the starters spot throughout the 60 games.

INF Jordy Mercer

Age: 33; MLB debut: 2012.

Vitals: 6-3, 210.

2019 stats: .270, 9 HR, 22 RBIs.

The buzz: Another veteran, Mercer played 74 games for Detroit last season. He's with the team to mentor infield prospects, but showed defensive versatility and pop at the plate last year.

[ Jordy Mercer brings leadership, contact hitting to Detroit Tigers ]

Detroit Tigers' Dawel Lugo safely reaches third on a triple before third baseman Jeimer Candelario can apply the tag during an intrasquad game, Monday, July 20, 2020 at Comerica Park.

INF Dawel Lugo

Age: 25; MLB debut: 2018.

Vitals: 6-0, 220.

2019 stats: .245, 6 HR, 26 RBIs.

The buzz: Even though Lugo made the initial roster, he might not last long. He lost the starting third base job to Candelario this summer and looked uncomfortable in the field and at the dish.

[ Tigers 'so frickin' excited' to showcase team in talent-rich Dominican Republic ]

UTIL Harold Castro

Age: 26; MLB debut: 2018.

Vitals: 6-0, 180.

2019 stats: .291, 5 HR, 38 RBIs.

The buzz: The Tigers are ready to utilize Castro with a heavy workload. He has shown his strength at the plate and can play six different positions.

[ Harold Castro keeps on hitting. So how will he fit in this lineup? ]

Starting pitchers

LHP Matthew Boyd

Age: 29; MLB debut: 2015.

Vitals: 6-3, 234.

2019 stats: 9-12, 4.56 ERA.

The buzz: The Opening Day starter, Boyd is the ace of the staff. He has built up to this point since the David Price trade in 2015, so now is his chance to show he's worthy.

[ Tigers name Boyd as Opening Day starter: 'It's an honor' ]

Detroit Tigers pitcher Ivan Nova throws during an intrasquad game at Comerica Park in Detroit, Wednesday, July 15, 2020.

RHP Ivan Nova

Age: 33; MLB debut: 2010.

Vitals: 6-5, 250.

2019 stats: 11-12, 4.72 ERA

The buzz: A 10-year veteran, Nova still has plenty of gas in the tank. He started an MLB-high 34 games last season and tossed 187 innings. 

[ Ivan Nova on quick return to MLB action: 'Never hold anything back' ]

RHP Spencer Turnbull

Age: 27; MLB debut: 2018.

Vitals: 6-3, 215.

2019 stats: 3-17, 4.61 ERA.

The buzz: Last season wasn't Turnbull's fault. He impressed with a 3.99 FIP and 146 strikeouts across 148⅓ innings, but he paced the MLB in losses. The Tigers think this is the year everything can come together for him.

[ Making sense of Spencer Turnbull's 'filthy' intrasquad outing ]

Detroit Tigers pitcher Michael Fulmer gets his first game action since elbow ligament reconstruction surgery at Comerica Park in Detroit, Wednesday, July 8, 2020.

RHP Michael Fulmer

Age: 27; MLB debut: 2016.

Vitals: 6-3, 246.

2019 stats: Injured.

The buzz: Back from injuries that sidelined him for 22 months, the Tigers will put Fulmer back into the rotation. He's expected to pitch a few innings per start before yielding to Tyler Alexander (or another reliever) early this year. 

[ Michael Fulmer ready to join rotation: 'Probably as an opener type' ]


RHP Dario Agrazal

Age: 25; MLB debut: 2019.

Vitals: 6-2, 240.

2019 stats: 4-5, 4.91 ERA.

The buzz: Assuming Daniel Norris (recovering from COVID-19) isn't ready by the home-opening series, the Tigers will likely start Agrazal. He started some intrasquad scrimmages and opened Tuesday's exhibition against the Reds. 

Detroit Tigers' Tyler Alexander pitches during intrasquad action Friday, July 17, 2020 at Comerica Park in Detroit.

LHP Tyler Alexander

Age: 26; MLB debut: 2019.

Vitals: 6-2, 200.

2019 stats: 1-4, 4.86 ERA.

The buzz: Enough success could force the Tigers into finding a true spot in the rotation for him, but for now, he's designated for a bullpen role.

RHP Joe Jimenez

Age: 25; MLB debut: 2017.

Vitals: 6-3, 272.

2019 stats: 4-7, 4.37 ERA.

The buzz: The closer focused on his diet during quarantine and shaved off 15 pounds — from 265 to 250. Jimenez feels strong and in midseason form. Last season, he pitched 66 games, finishing 29 and saving nine.

[ Joe Jimenez drops 15 pounds, knowing he'll bear load of being closer ]

Detroit Tigers pitcher Buck Farmer throws during a live batting practice session at Comerica Park, Monday, July 6, 2020.

RHP Buck Farmer

Age: 29; MLB debut: 2014.

Vitals: 6-4, 232.

2019 stats: 6-6, 3.72 ERA.

The buzz: Probably the best reliever for the Tigers last year, Farmer didn't show any signs of slowing down this spring and summer. He enters a set-up role with Jimenez, combining for a one-two punch that could be dominating.

[ Buck Farmer has matured to the point of asking Casey Mize for advice ]

RHP Beau Burrows

Age: 23; MLB debut: N/A.

Vitals: 6-2, 215.

2019 stats (3 teams): 3-6, 4.84 ERA

The buzz: Barring a catastrophe, Burrows will make his MLB debut this season. He's started 98 of 100 appearances in his minor-league career since being selected No. 22 overall in the 2015 draft. His command must improve before he gets a nod in the rotation.

[ How Beau Burrows used tech to get back on track: 'I had all the sensors' ]

RHP Jose Cisnero

Age: 31; MLB debut: 2013.

Vitals: 6-3, 245.

2019 stats: 0-4, 4.33 ERA.

The buzz: One of the few veterans in the bullpen, Cisnero pitched in 2013 and 2014 for the Astros before Tommy John surgery derailed his career. He worked his way back and made 35 appearances for the Tigers last season.

Detroit Tigers' Kyle Funkhouser pitches during an intrasquad scrimmage at Comerica Park in Detroit, Sunday, July 12, 2020.

RHP Kyle Funkhouser

Age: 26; MLB debut: N/A.

Vitals: 6-2, 230.

2019 stats (3 teams): 6-8, 6.36 ERA.

The buzz: The 2016 fourth-round pick's career was plummeting before the coronavirus nixed spring training, giving Funkhouser a chance to regroup. He refined his game and finds himself in a position to make his Tigers debut.

[ How Kyle Funkhouser found a fix: 'Just ... have some fun' ]

RHP Bryan Garcia

Age: 25; MLB debut: 2019.

Vitals: 6-1, 203.

2019 stats: 0-0, 12.15 ERA.

The buzz: The hype is real. He's two years removed from Tommy John surgery and impressed with three minor-league teams last season, boasting a 3.05 ERA and 47 strikeouts in 38 games (41⅓ innings). But his slider isn't yet where it used to be.

Bryan Garcia was once an emerging closer. He's ready to climb bullpen ladder again ]

Detroit Tigers pitcher Rony Garcia makes a pitch during an intrasquad game at training camp at Comerica Park in Detroit, Wednesday, July 8, 2020.

RHP Rony Garcia

Age: 22; MLB debut: N/A.

Vitals: 6-3, 200.

2019 stats (2 teams): 4-13, 4.01 ERA.

The buzz: A Rule 5 draft pick in 2019, there wasn't much doubt Garcia would make the roster. Expect him to hit the proverbial roller coaster, but the Tigers are in it for the long haul with him.

[ Tigers take a chance on sling-shot righty Rony Garcia in Rule 5 draft ]

RHP David McKay

Age: 25; MLB debut: 2019.

Vitals: 6-3, 205.

2019 stats: 0-0, 5.59 ERA.

The buzz: Once considered on the bubble, McKay was stellar this spring with a 1.42 ERA in 6⅓ innings. His performance this summer was uneasy at times, but the 25 games he pitched for the Tigers last season helped his case.

[ David McKay impressed this spring. Now he's hunting for roster spot ]

Detroit Tigers pitcher John Schreiber talks to catcher Eric Haase during an intrasquad game at summer camp at Comerica Park in Detroit, Wednesday, July 8, 2020.

RHP John Schreiber

Age: 26; MLB debut: 2019.

Vitals: 6-3, 220.

2019 stats: 2-0, 6.23 ERA.

The buzz: From Gibraltar Carlson, the sidearmer only needed three years in the minors to make his MLB debut in 2019. During quarantine, he spent ample time with Boyd, the team's left-handed ace. Looks like the work paid off.

[ John Schreiber's Comerica Park debut was a romantic one ]

LHP Gregory Soto

Age: 25; MLB debut: 2019.

Vitals: 6-1, 240.

2019 stats: 0-5, 5.77 ERA.

The buzz: He tossed 33 games (seven starts) last season but had trouble, with a 45-to-33 strikeout-to-walk ratio, in 57⅔ innings. Soto might not be trusted in high-pressure situations until he cleans up his command.

Evan Petzold is a sports reporting intern at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold