Cleveland — Jonathan Schoop wanted to remain with the Tigers and he took an active role in making sure that happened.
Just hours before game time Saturday, Schoop and the Tigers agreed on a two-year contract extension worth $15 million. He will be paid $7.5 million in 2022 and 2023, though he can opt out of the deal after 2022.
“I told you guys before, I feel really good here, I feel welcomed here and I want to stay here,” said Schoop, who is in his age-29 season and has played on one-year deals the last four years. “I thank Al (Avlia, general manager) and AJ (Hinch, manager) for this chance. I’m really happy. This is one of the best days of my life.”
Avila said the extension talks were in the works since well before trade deadline. Schoop had hired agent Scott Boras before this season. Boras typically likes to take his players to the open market.
“It took a while talking back and forth for several weeks,” Avila said. “But I always felt we were going to get this done. Jonathan put his own efforts into making sure he stayed here. For us, we feel like he is a really important reason why we’re turning things around and winning some games.”
Avila said he still fielded inquiries on Schoop up to the trade deadline, and if the right deal was offered would have pulled the trigger.
“At the end of the day, we thought this (extending him) was going to happen,” Avila said. “We worked toward it, Jonathan worked toward it. He expressed a desire to be part of this and we all felt Jonathan is an important part of our immediate future.”
Schoop was hitting .185 on May 7 and the Tigers were 9-24. Since, Schoop has slashed .325/.372/.543 with a .923 OPS and the Tigers are 45-35 in that stretch. Cause and effect.
“I want to thank AJ for sticking with me in April,” Schoop said. “It was a rough April. But he believed in me and kept rolling me out there and letting me be myself. I wish I could show it more how much this means, but I am not an emotional guy.”
Hinch has raved all season about Schoop’s calming and uplifting presence in the clubhouse and his ability to connect with and mentor the younger players.
“He’s easy to write into the lineup every day,” Hinch said. “You can rely on him. He loves to play, but more important, he’s a good influence. When your better players want to be part of what you are doing and want to stay here, it’s really easy for a manager to fall in love with the guy.
“There is a consistency to him in what he brings every day. He makes me smile every day. I push him and he responds by asking for more and wants to do more. I’m thrilled because we’re building off of this.”
Schoop is the first true extension the Tigers have given a player since Miguel Cabrera got an eight-year extension before the 2014 season. J.D. Martinez signed a two-year deal that essentially bought out his arbitration years.
“Knowing I am going to be here, that’s real important to me and my family,” Schoop said. “Especially when you know where you want to be. I know I want to be here. I know I want to stay here.
“Just glad to get it out of the way.”
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