Former Cleveland infielder signs with division rival

Chicago Cubs v Los Angeles Angels
Chicago Cubs v Los Angeles Angels / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages

A familiar face will be staring back at the Cleveland Guardians dugout when they face off with the Detroit Tigers this season. Former Cleveland infielder Gio Urshela has agreed to a one-year $1.5 million deal with the division rival Tigers, per a report from ESPN's Jeff Passan. Urshela should be able to play multiple positions, including third base, as he has for much of his career. 

The 32-year-old infielder is coming off a season where he was limited to just 62 games. Urshela's season came to an abrupt end in mid-June due to suffering a pelvic fracture that did not require but would result in missing the rest of the 2023 season.

The overall performance at the plate for Urshela was fine but not spectacular before the injury. The .299 batting average was his highest mark since hitting .314 with the New York Yankees in 2019, but the other areas left a lot to be desired. Urshela's .374 slugging percentage and .703 on-base plus slugging were the lowest marks during that span. While Urshela was able to put the ball in play and get on base at a decent rate, he really did not have any power to show for it, with 11 of his 64 hits last season going for extra bases.

This season with the Tigers is really going to be about reestablishing value for Urshela. It is not a question of whether Urshela can be a contributor. It is whether or not he can get back to that level of play and play close to a full season's worth of games. Urshela has played more than 120 games only twice in his eight years in the majors, although he has only been a regular member of a starting lineup since 2019. A fresh start on a Detroit team looking to make some noise in the American League Central may be exactly what he needs to rejuvenate his career in his 30s.

Urshela appeared in 148 games in parts of two seasons in Cleveland during the 2015 and 2017 seasons but struggled at the plate with a slash line of .225/.273/.314 with 15 doubles, seven home runs, and one triple. A brief stint with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2018 was not much better, with his numbers improving only slightly over 19 games (.233/.283/.326). It was not until Urshela landed in The Bronx that changes were made to his swing, and he was able to become a productive hitter.