The Detroit Tigers needed power, so they’re bringing in two free agents — infielders Jonathan Schoop and C.J. Cron — who played for a Minnesota Twins team that set a major league record for home runs last season.
Both one-year deals were for $6.1 million, a source told ESPN’s Jeff Passan on Saturday.
Schoop, a second baseman, and Cron, a first baseman, both were key components of a power-hitting Twins lineup that won their first AL Central crown since 2010 and broke MLB’s single-season record with 307 home runs last season.
The Tigers finished with the worst record in the majors last season at 47-114 and were 53.5 games behind the Twins in the division.
Schoop, 28, batted .256 with 23 homers, 59 RBIs and a .777 OPS in 121 games during his only season with Minnesota, while making $7.5 million. It was his fourth consecutive season with more than 20 home runs.
The 29-year-old Cron, who was brought in as a replacement at first base for the retired Joe Mauer, had a career-high 78 RBIs last season while hitting .253 with 25 homers and a .311 on-base percentage in 125 games. He played most of the second half of the season with a nagging right thumb injury that required offseason surgery.
The Tigers, who have the No. 1 pick in the draft for the second time in three years, certainly need plenty of help after finishing last in the American League with 582 runs — 109 behind 14th-place Kansas City — and second to last in the majors with 149 home runs.
In a year when balls flew out of ballparks with ease, no Detroit player hit more than 15 home runs. The team leader in RBIs was Miguel Cabrera with 59. The Tigers have some well regarded pitching prospects in their system who could be ready to help in the next year or two.
“Adding Jonathan and C.J. is a step towards accomplishing our offseason goal of making the ballclub better heading into the 2020 season,” general manager Al Avila said in a statement. “We’re excited to have them join our organization, and we expect both players will inject significant power to our lineup. Defensively, C.J. will provide stability at first base, while Jonathan will lead the middle of our infield.”
Second base was a revolving door for the Tigers last season with Gordon Beckham (39 games), Harold Castro (34 games), Josh Harrison (34 games), Ronny Rodriguez (31 games) and Niko Goodrum (22 games) all sharing time. Brandon Dixon played 61 games at first base for the Tigers last season, with John Hicks (29), Cabrera (26) and Jeimer Candelario (20) also seeing time there.
Known for his slugging, Schoop swung at 43.5% of the pitches he saw outside of the strike zone last season, which would have ranked him in the bottom 10 among major league players had he had enough plate appearances to qualify.
He was traded to Milwaukee in the summer of 2018 right before the non-waiver deadline and signed a one-year deal with the Twins during the offseason, after the Milwaukee Brewers declined to offer him a contract rather than allow him to be eligible for salary arbitration.
The native of the Caribbean island of Curacao made his major league debut with the Baltimore Orioles in 2013 and spent five seasons as their regular second baseman, until the team’s salary dump triggered the deal that sent him to the Brewers for second baseman Jonathan Villar and two minor league prospects.
Schoop had his best season in 2017 with the Orioles, when he was a first-time All-Star and hit .293 with 32 homers and 105 RBIs. He has a .257 career batting average with 133 homers and 392 RBIs.
Cron, who was non-tendered by the club in December after making $4.8 million in 2019, doesn’t walk much — evidenced by his 139 career walks vs. 566 strikeouts — and is regarded as a mediocre defender at first base.
He batted .253 with 28 doubles, 30 home runs, 74 RBIs and an .816 OPS in a breakout 2018 season for the Tampa Bay Rays, who designated the slugger for assignment in the offseason prior to him joining the Twins. Cron missed six weeks of that season after suffering a broken left hand when he was hit by a pitch.
Cron played his first four major league seasons for the Los Angeles Angels, who selected him with the 17th overall pick in the 2011 amateur draft. He has 114 career home runs and 365 RBIs while hitting .258.
ESPN’s David Schoenfield and Keith Law and The Associated Press contributed to this report.