Primarily a third baseman, the 33-year-old McGehee also has played first base. The Tigers had been looking for infield depth, particularly after trading Jefry Marte to the Angels upon removing him from the 40-man roster last month.
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"We could use a third baseman, quite frankly," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said, "not necessarily at the Major League level, maybe in [Triple-A] Toledo. He's got Major League experience."
The Tigers' bench is pretty well set with super-utility player Mike Aviles, infielder Andrew Romine, one of their center fielders -- Cameron Maybin or Anthony Gose will battle for playing time -- and backup catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Bryan Holaday.
At this point, McGehee is battling for one of those spots.
"I was fighting for a job long before I was ever a regular," McGehee said. "It's back to how it all started, I guess."
McGehee spent 10 games in Triple-A last year with the Giants, having accepted an assignment upon being designated. According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, if Detroit can't assure him of a spot on the big league club with five days left in camp, he can opt out of his deal and look elsewhere. If the Tigers want him to accept an assignment at Triple-A Toledo, they must offer him a $100,000 retention bonus.
McGehee is the latest veteran depth signing by Detroit, which added outfielders Nate Schierholtz and John Mayberry Jr. earlier, and just signed Bobby Parnell for relief help last week.
"There's no question we have more depth," Ausmus said. "It's very important. You don't win with 25 players anymore. You need 30-35 players. That's just the way the game is."
McGehee's signing came together quickly. General manager Al Avila hinted Friday that the Tigers could add another infielder. By that point, they were not only in touch with McGehee's agent, Barry Meister, but were close to a deal.
"I heard [from the Tigers] late last week, and by Friday afternoon had pretty much agreed," McGehee said. "So it happened pretty quick. I'm excited to be here. Hopefully I can find a way to make this team better and help this team win. That's the reason I'm here, is to try to win. We'll see how it all plays out."