In a 162-game season last year, first baseman Brandon Dixon paced the Detroit Tigers with 15 home runs. But this year, through 32 games, second baseman Jonathan Schoop leads the way with eight.
Schoop, 28, is at the forefront of the Tigers’ 16-16 record with 28 games remaining in the shortened season, and general manager Al Avila isn’t looking to move him from the organization ahead of Monday’s 4 p.m. trade deadline, according to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi.
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He is on a one-year contract and will become a free agent at the end of the year.
Keeping Schoop means Detroit – only two games out of the American League’s final playoff spot – isn’t looking to sell short-term contracts for prospects, or at least the return for a month-long rental wasn’t enough. The team now seems ready to make a push for the expanded 16-team postseason.
The Tigers forced Avila into a tough scenario by winning five consecutive games and six of seven. They’ve taken three straight series victories against opponents with winning records: Cleveland Indians, Chicago Cubs and Minnesota Twins.
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Before the deadline, Avila wouldn’t call his team buyers or sellers.
Schoop is batting .303 and has 19 RBIs to go with his eight home runs in 31 games. He has only requested one game off for rest and is reliable at second base with just one error this season. In his last 15 games, he is slashing .357/.410/.607 with four homers, 10 RBIs, five walks and nine strikeouts.
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Because Schoop has turned back the clock three years to when he hit .293 with 32 homers and 105 RBIs for the Baltimore Orioles in 2017, the Tigers could be interested in extending his contract and making him a veteran piece of the rebuild.
Trading him away wouldn’t provide them with an upper hand in doing so.
“I think it’s a little early right now to look at who we’re going to sign or not sign for 2021,” Avila said Thursday. “Because 2021 is going to be an uncertain year. Toward the end of the season, we have our big meetings (about) our needs for next year. We haven’t had those meetings yet.”