Detroit Tigers trade for veteran catcher Dustin Garneau to aid position shortage

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The Detroit Tigers needed another catcher, so they acquired old friend Dustin Garneau.

Without starting catcher Eric Haase for the next couple of days, the Tigers were left with backup Grayson Greiner as their lone catcher. Infielder Zack Short and utility player Harold Castro lobbied for emergency catcher gigs, but manager AJ Hinch didn't want to take that route.

"That's one position where you can't just throw somebody out there and pretend," Hinch said. "I would probably active myself or (quality control coach) Josh Paul before I would go down that path. And that's a scary proposition."

But Garneau, a six-year MLB veteran, can handle the job.

The Tigers traded for Garneau on Wednesday, acquiring him from the Colorado Rockies for cash considerations. To make room for the 34-year-old on the active and 40-man rosters, the Tigers optioned outfielder Jacob Robson to Triple-A Toledo and transferred catcher Jake Rogers to the 60-day injured list.

"We're considering a couple of different things," Hinch said Wednesday, before the Garneau trade was complete. "We're just trying to get through batting practice before we make any sort of declarations. There's just a lot of things in the air."

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Detroit Tigers catcher Dustin Garneau (64) prepares for batting practice before the start of the game against the Toronto Blue Jays during spring training at TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Florida on Thursday, March 25, 2021.
Detroit Tigers catcher Dustin Garneau (64) prepares for batting practice before the start of the game against the Toronto Blue Jays during spring training at TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Florida on Thursday, March 25, 2021.

In December 2020, the Tigers signed Garneau to a minor-league contract with an invite to spring training. He played 17 games in Triple-A Toledo — along with time spent on the injured list — before opting out of his contract July 15.

Seven days later, the Rockies added Garneau on a minor-league deal.

With the Mud Hens, Garneau hit .176 with four home runs, nine RBIs, seven walks and 20 strikeouts over 17 games. For Triple-A Albuquerque, the Rockies' affiliate, he posted a .229 batting average, one homer, six RBIs, six walks and nine strikeouts over 11 games.

The Tigers faced a setback at catcher when Rogers went to the injured list July 19 with right arm soreness. Down to Haase and Greiner, another issue occurred before Tuesday's series opener with the Los Angeles Angels at Comerica Park.

Haase was scratched with low back tightness, but he doesn't seem to need a stint on the injured list.

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Eric Haase, right, has 11 homers in 44 games as a catcher this season and seven homers in 16 games in left.
Eric Haase, right, has 11 homers in 44 games as a catcher this season and seven homers in 16 games in left.

"Haase is doing OK," Hinch said. "He came here early (Wednesday), moved around quite a bit and hit. He did some throwing. He's not going to play today. We're hopeful to have him (back) over the next couple days. I'll be very, very conservative with him to make sure nothing flares up. He said he feels significantly better today than he did yesterday."

Garneau hit .158 in 17 games for the Houston Astros in 2020, his last campaign in the big leagues. He has competed in 140 games across six seasons for the Rockies (2015-17), Oakland Athletics (2017, 2019), Chicago White Sox (2018), Angels (2019) and Astros (2020).

He owns a career .202 batting average, nine home runs, 42 RBIs, 41 walks and 109 strikeouts.

Hold up, Baddoo

The Tigers initially planned to bring outfielder Akil Baddoo (concussion protocol) back Wednesday or Thursday against the Angels.

But there has been a change.

"He doesn't have to (play a rehab game)," Hinch said. "We started talking about it yesterday. One of the confusing parts is what a guy needs versus what's the best interest for him versus the health. The health being priority number one, and then the player's ability to return to play at this level is important."

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Detroit Tigers center fielder Akil Baddoo (60) jumps up for a foul ball against the Boston Red Sox during the ninth inning at Comerica Park in Detroit, Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021.
Detroit Tigers center fielder Akil Baddoo (60) jumps up for a foul ball against the Boston Red Sox during the ninth inning at Comerica Park in Detroit, Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021.

Although concussion protocols don't call for a rehab assignment, the Tigers are sending Baddoo to Triple-A Toledo. He will start his rehab assignment Wednesday as the designated hitter and remain with the Mud Hens through the weekend, meaning he probably won't be with the Tigers for the Friday-Sunday series in Toronto against the Blue Jays.

"Some of that is to get him back up and running full-go and getting his swing back to where it was prior to the injury," Hinch said. "It's also hard getting in and out of Canada. Going to Toronto this weekend has been tough planning for us."

Another rehabbing Tiger

Along with Baddoo, center fielder Derek Hill (left ribcage contusion) is beginning his rehab assignment Wednesday with Triple-A Toledo.

He will start in the outfield.

Hill and Baddoo were involved in a scary outfield collision Aug. 10 at Camden Yards in Baltimore. They ran into each other at full speed. The following day, the Tigers placed Baddoo on the seven-day concussion protocol injured list and Hill on the 10-day injured list with a rib injury.

Paredes to Triple-A

Reinstated from the injured list Wednesday, infielder Isaac Paredes (right hip strain) was optioned to Triple-A Toledo. The Tigers decided not to bring him back to the big leagues, favoring Short, Renato Nunez and Willi Castro in the infield.

The 22-year-old has posted a .259 batting average, five home runs, 26 RBIs, 31 walks and 30 strikeouts in 48 games for the Mud Hens.

"We need to see him play well," Hinch said. "I don't think he's mastered Triple-A to the level that he shouldn't necessarily be there. When opportunity presents itself, the door opens and closes pretty quickly, depending on how everybody else around you is doing. We want to see him continue to develop."

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Paredes has played 14 games for the Tigers in 2021, hitting .256 with one double, one triple, one home run, four RBIs, six walks and five strikeouts. He played 34 games in his MLB debut season in 2020, hitting .220 with one homer, six RBIs, eight walks and 24 strikeouts.

"If he can work his way back here," Hinch said, "then we'd like to give him an opportunity again."

Urena makes rehab start

Right-hander Jose Urena (right groin strain) made his first rehab assignment start for Toledo on Wednesday, pitching one scoreless inning. He retired all three batters he faced but didn't record a strikeout. He threw six of his 13 pitches for strikes.

"He was up to the mid-90s (mph) and was pretty efficient," Hinch said. "He had to cover first (base), which was key given the groin strain. Things are good for him."

Urena will pitch again Saturday, this time going two innings.

"We'll have a decision point at the three- or four-inning mark on what to do," Hinch said.

Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold. Read more on the Detroit Tigers and sign up for our Tigers newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers trade for catcher Dustin Garneau from Colorado Rockies