Tigers Spencer Torkelson Option – MLB Trade Rumors
The Tigers announced to reporters, including Detroit News’ Chris McCoskythat first baseman Spencer Torkelson was optioned on Triple-A Toledo. The corresponding move will be announced later, as today’s game has been postponed due to rain, meaning the Tigers won’t play again until after the All-Star break.
The first overall pick in the 2020 draft, Torkelson immediately entered prospect lists, with Baseball America ranking him No. 5 overall in 2021. Torkelson did nothing to diminish his prospect status last year, as he crushed High-A, then was promoted to Double-A and Triple-A within a year. At those three levels, he hit 30 home runs, 29 doubles and a pair of triples, producing an overall swipe line of .267/.383/.552. He appeared in 14.5% of his plate appearances and was struck out in 21.5% of them.
Heading into 2022, he was once again placed fifth on BA’s prospect list and looked set for big things after cracking the Tigers’ opening day roster. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to translate his immense striking ability into the major leagues yet. In his first 298 board appearances, he only hit 0.197/0.282/0.295, earning him a 68 wRC+. In other words, it’s a production 32% below the league average.
Torkelson is still able to put a load on the ball, as his maximum exit velocity is considered to be in the 80th percentile, according to Statcast. However, his hitting percentage is only 39th percentile and his barrel percentage is 37th, suggesting he doesn’t field the ball consistently.
While this is surely a disappointing result for the Tigers and their fans, it’s worth remembering that there is still plenty of time for Torkelson to turn things around. He spent just a year in the minors before the club’s aggressive push to add him to the big league squad. He is only 22 and will turn 23 in August. Given that the club is 37-55 and has no hope of a playoff push this year, they can afford to take whatever action they think will give Torkelson the best chance of success at term, which they say will take time in miners.
Manager AJ Hinch spoke to reporters about the decision today (Twitter connections by Cody Stavenhagen of The Athletic and MLB.com’s Jason Beck), saying they want to get it back on track away from the scrutiny that comes with being in the big leagues. “It’s a lot less of the spotlight to do it in Triple A than it is to continue to do it in the major leagues,” Hinch said. “He’s too good a hitter for us to continue to let him grind at this level and not achieve the desired results.”
As for the timeline or Torkelson’s return, it looks like it will depend on his results. “I told Tork it could take 10 days, it could take two weeks, it could take a month. It doesn’t matter how long it takes for him to feel good. The duration of this optional assignment could potentially have implications for Torkelson down the line in terms of arbitration and free will. Since making the club’s opening day roster, he was in line to earn a full year of MLB service time, setting him up to reach refereeing after the 2024 campaign and the agency. free after 2027. A major league season lasts 187 days, but it only takes 172 days on a major league roster for a player to earn a full year of service time. If Torkelson misses more than two weeks of action, he could miss the milestone by a year here in 2022, pushing back his free agency by a year. Players also reach arbitration after three years, although it is also possible to qualify as a Super Two player, with the top 22% of players between two and three years of service time being eligible. This means that the target changes slightly each year, oscillating from 2.115 to 2.146 since 2009.