SAN DIEGO — New Detroit Tigers catcher Austin Romine will not be packing boxing gloves when he heads to spring training in Lakeland, Fla., in two months.
Detroit fans might remember the longtime New York Yankees backup catcher for his role in one of the most epic brawls in recent history. It began when Tigers star Miguel Cabrera shoved and then took a swing at Romine, who tackled Cabrera to the ground, emptying the benches and setting off a string of retaliatory pitches throughout the rest of the game.
“There are no hard feelings,” Romine said Friday via conference call with Detroit media. “I feel like baseball takes care of itself. That was just two guys out there protecting their team. You move on.”
Romine said he was “excited to work with one of the best hitters of our generation and hopefully learn from him.”
The Tigers officially announced the signing of Romine on Friday. He signed a one-year deal worth about $4.1 million.
“Signing an experienced catcher was high on our list of offseason priorities, and we believe Austin will have an impact both on the field and in the clubhouse,” Tigers general manager Al Avila said. “He’s a proven leader and game-caller who has earned respect around the league for the tenacious and passionate manner in which he plays the game.”
A native of Orange County, Calif., Romine was originally drafted out of high school by the Yankees in 2007. He made his Major League debut in 2011 and spent parts of eight seasons with the big-league club.
But it wasn’t until this winter, at the age of 31, that Romine finally had enough service time to reach free agency.
“I had no idea what to expect,” he said.
After years as a backup to Gary Sanchez, Romine said the opportunity to be a regular with the Tigers appealed to him.
If all goes as expected, Romine will be the Tigers’ primary catcher in 2020, with Grayson Greiner serving as backup while prospect Jake Rogers gets more seasoning in Triple-A Toledo.
“I believe that with more playing time, I can reach a better level of consistency,” he said.
The money didn’t hurt, either. Although $4.1 million might not seem like much in a world in which Gerrit Cole will make $36 annually for the next year nine years, it’s more than double Romine’s 2019 salary, which was more than he had made at any point in his career.
Romine’s father Kevin is a former big-leaguer (and now a Los Angeles police detective). Older brother Andrew played for the Tigers from 2014-2017 and just celebrated the birth of a baby girl.
“I’ve talked to him over the years he was here and he always spoke very highly of the organization and how they worked and the city, Lakeland and Detroit,” the younger Romine said.
The Tigers have 39 players on their 40-man roster.
Left-handed pitchers: Tyler Alexander, Matthew Boyd, Matt Hall, Daniel Norris, Gregory Soto.
Right-handed pitchers: Dario Agrazal, Beau Burrows, Anthony Castro, Jose Cisnero, Buck Farmer, Michael Fulmer, Kyle Funkhouser, Bryan Garcia, Rony Garcia, Joe Jimenez, David McKay, Franklin Perez, John Schreiber, Spencer Turnbull, Jordan Zimmermann.
Catchers: Grayson Greiner, Jake Rogers, Austin Romine.
Infielders: Sergio Alcantara, Miguel Cabrera, Jeimer Candelario, Harold Castro, Willi Castro, Brandon Dixon, Niko Goodrum, Dawel Lugo, Isaac Paredes.