White, with limited playing time this season, has struggled at the plate. Yordan Alvarez’s brilliant rookie year saw him become surplus to requirements, but teams should see his .888 OPS in 2018 as reason for optimism. It makes him a great buy-low candidate.
A .650 OPS in 2019 might not seem like an exciting player, but the Tigers offence has holes. It has oh-so many holes, and picking White up for somewhere between nothing and very little is the sort of move they need to make. This season, just like last, is about learning for Detroit, they need to be figuring out what they’ve got, what they need and who can help them in the future. White is under team control through 2023.
The Tigers’ wins above average from first base per Baseball Reference is -1.2. Only the awful Orioles, Angels, Rockies and Royals have a worse mark for this season. Brandon Dixon (39 games), Miguel Cabrera (26), Niko Goodrum (18), John Hicks (14), Ronny Rodriguez (8), Gordon Beckham (3), Harold Castro (1) and Dustin Peterson (1), have shared first base for the Tigers this season.
Dixon has been okay. His OPS+ is just 99, but a good year for the Reds’ triple-A team in 2018 might be enough to earn more plate appearances. Dixon can play elsewhere if required though, as can White. The positions, at this stage at least, don’t matter too much for Detroit, it’s all about experimenting and there’s nothing from the first basemen they have tried that suggests they shouldn’t acquire White.
White’s upside offensively is enough for Detroit to give him a chance. It’s fair to say that the Tigers are not blessed with position players who can post an .800-plus OPS in the Majors. Maybe 2018 was a fluke, but if White can get anywhere near his production in 66 games last season (which isn’t a tiny sample), then the Tigers have found a player who can help their next competitive team. Even if the fit defensively doesn’t work, with Cabrera set to DH long-term, he could become a valuable trade chip.
Away from Nicholas Castellanos, Matthew Boyd and Shane Greene trade rumours, the Tigers aren’t going to hit many headlines before the deadline. Acquiring White won’t turn too many heads, but it’s exactly what they should be looking to do.