The contestants: Niko Goodrum, Gordon Beckham, Dawel Lugo, Brandon Dixon, Ronny Rodriguez.
The skinny: The Tigers' long-range view is for Goodrum to be a superutility player, one who gets 400-plus at-bats a year. In the short-term, though, he might be their best option at second base. Beckham, 32 and a non-roster invitee, hasn’t hit above .226 since 2013. Lugo had some good moments in his September audition last year, but may be best served with another year of seasoning. Dixon is 27, and like Goodrum last year, got his first taste of the big leagues (with the Reds) after a six-year minor-league career. The battle: It’s wide open and the Tigers could easily bring in another veteran to compete before camp breaks. If they commit to Goodrum as the everyday second baseman, that would kick Beckham to Triple A and leave Rodriguez and Dixon to compete for the utility job.
The wild card: Dixon is intriguing. He has played everywhere except catcher and shortstop. He even pitched two games for the Reds last year, 1.1 scoreless innings. He didn’t hit much at the big-league level, but he did throughout his minor-league career — .288/.344/ .489 with some power at Triple A.
The forecast: The rest of the roster likely might determine how best to use Goodrum’s versatility. If the biggest need ends up being at second base, then he will log most of his minutes there, like he ended up doing last season. But the Tigers would be thrilled if Beckham or Dixon, or even Lugo, could seize that spot and free Goodrum to play multiple spots.