Tigers sign McGehee to non-roster invite
On the day the Tigers began full-squad workouts, their full squad became more populated. Infielder Casey McGehee signed a minor-league deal with a non-roster invite Tuesday morning, giving Detroit a depth option for the corner infield spots as well as a potential bat off the bench.
McGehee, the National League Comeback Player of the Year two seasons ago with the Marlins, split last season between San Francisco and Miami. He hit .198 (47-for-237) with 12 doubles, two home runs and 20 RBIs between the two stops. It was a fallback from 2014, when he returned from Japan to hit .287 with 29 doubles, four homers and 76 RBIs with the Marlins.
Primarily a third baseman, the 33-year-old McGehee also has played first base. The Tigers had been looking for infield depth, particularly after trading Jefry Marte to the Angels upon removing him from the 40-man roster last month.
“We could use a third baseman, quite frankly,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said, “not necessarily at the Major League level, maybe in Toledo. He’s got Major League experience.”
The Tigers bench is pretty well set with superutility player Mike Aviles, infielder Andrew Romine, one of their center fielders — Cameron Maybin or Anthony Gose will battle for playing time — and backup catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Bryan Holaday.
At this point, McGehee is battling for one of those spots.
“I was fighting for a job long before I was ever a regular,” he said. “It’s back to how it all started, I guess.”
McGehee spent 10 games in Triple-A last year with the Giants, having accepted an assignment upon being designated. According to the collective bargaining agreement, if the Tigers can’t assure him of a spot on the big-league club with five days left in camp, he can opt-out of his deal and look elsewhere. If the Tigers want him to accept an assignment at Triple-A Toledo, they must offer him a $100,000 retention bonus.
McGehee is the latest veteran depth signing by the Tigers, who added outfielders Nate Schierholtz and John Mayberry Jr. earlier, and just signed Bobby Parnell for relief help last week.
“There’s no question we have more depth,” Ausmus said. “It’s very important. You don’t win with 25 players anymore. You need 30-35 players. That’s just the way the game is.”
McGehee’s deal came together quickly. General manager Al Avila hinted Friday that the Tigers could add another infielder. By that point, they were not only in touch with McGehee’s agent, Barry Meister, but were close to a deal.
“I heard [from the Tigers] late last week, and by Friday afternoon had pretty much agreed,” McGehee said. “So it happened pretty quick. I’m excited to be here. Hopefully I can find a way to make this team better and help this team win. That’s the reason I’m here is to try to win. We’ll see how it all plays out.”