--RHP Justin Verlander, faced with the prospect of getting a far lesser offer if he went through the draft next June without pitching, agreed Friday (Oct. 22) to a five-year deal on a major league contract with the Tigers.
Detroit will have to remove a player from its 40-man roster once the pact is filed with the commissioner's office.
Verlander, the second overall choice in last June's draft, became motivated to sign when Detroit announced a week earlier it was taking its offer off the table and breaking off negotiations. The Tigers said they offered a package worth more than it gave to 2003 No. 1 pick RHP Kyle Sleeth. He signed a minor league contract worth $3.35 million.
The Tigers, who have failed to come to terms with only one No. 1 pick (in 1966), would have received a compensation choice between the first and second rounds of next year's draft had the junior from Old Dominion remained unsigned. But there's a significant drop in the talent level between the No. 2 choice overall and a pick in the 35-40 range.
Verlander would have had to re-enter Old Dominion in order to pitch as a senior this spring, but the school has undergone some changes in the baseball program since he left. His other options would have been to try pitching for an independent league pro team or not pitch at all, either of which could have significantly reduced his draft position and thus his possibility for a contract anywhere close to what Detroit offered.
Verlander was only 7-6 with a 3.49 ERA in 16 games for Old Dominion this year, but the 6-4, 200-pound right-hander threw harder than any other regular college pitcher in the draft. He struck out a school-record 151 batters. His control is an issue, but he's got a major league quality curve to go with his fastball, which tops out in the high 90s. Verlander pitched for Team USA two summers ago, finishing 5-1 with a 1.29 ERA to help lead the club to the silver medal at the Pan American Games.
--Only one of its top 10 and two of its first 25 draft choices have yet to sign with Detroit this year. The signing of second overall pick RHP Justin Verlander of Old Dominion left the Tigers with one top-ten player unsigned -- seventh-round selection Chris Carpenter, a right-handed high school pitcher from Bryan, Ohio. Also not signed among the top 25 was high school RHP Christopher Martin of Arlington, Texas, the club's 18th-round pick.
--3B Ray Boone, patriarch of baseball's first three-generation family and a two-time Tigers All-Star in the mid-1950s, died Oct. 17 following a long illness. He was 81.
Boone had been hospitalized for six months with complications following surgery, said his wife, Pat.
"It's a blessing," she said. "He had a great life."
Boone played for the Tigers in 1953-58, after coming up with the Cleveland Indians in 1948. He later played for the Chicago White Sox, Philadelphia Athletics, Milwaukee Braves and Boston Red Sox.
His son, Bob, was a longtime major league catcher, and his grandsons, Bret and Aaron, are infielders.
"We were the first three-generation family," Pat Boone said. "We're not the only one, but we were the first."
Boone batted .275 with 151 home runs and 737 RBI. He led the American League with 116 RBI for Detroit in 1955.
Boone came to the majors in 1948 to sub for injured Cleveland shortstop-manager Lou Boudreau and remained as part of the American League champions. He played six seasons at short but was part of a six-player deal with Detroit in the middle of the 1953 season. His career took off when the Tigers shifted him to third, where he played beside SS Harvey Kuenn.
Boone hit .241 with four home runs and 21 RBI in 34 games for Cleveland that year and batted .312 with 22 homers and 93 RBI the rest of the year with Detroit. He had four straight 20-homer seasons for Detroit.
Boone earned his first All-Star selection in 1954, starting at third for the American League. He led the league with 116 RBI in 1955, then hit .308 with 25 homers to earn another All-Star selection in '56.
--OF Dewayne Wise, claimed off waivers by Detroit, has a chance to make the Tigers as an extra outfielder next year, club President/GM Dave Dombrowski said.
Detroit took Wise from Atlanta at the same time it successfully claimed OF Byron Gettis off waivers from Kansas City. Wise is out of options, but Gettis could be sent to the minors one more time.
Wise spent the season with Atlanta and got some playing time as a backup last year.
--Detroit will have to make at least five player cuts during the offseason to make room for four disabled players.
Claiming outfielders Byron Gettis and Dewayne Wise pushed the Tigers to the 40-man limit, the maximum allowed, and signing top draft choice RHP Justin Verlander to a major league deal meant someone would have to go once his contract was filed with the major league office.
The Tigers also have to decide on any minor leaguers it wants to protect from the Rule 5 draft in December.
That hasn't been much of a problem in recent years because bad drafts have left Detroit with few minor league players coveted by other teams.
BY THE NUMBERS: 2 -- Players not signed by Detroit out of the first 25 it selected in last June's draft. The signing of RHP Justin Verlander of Old Dominion, second overall pick last June, reduced the Tigers' unsigned list to two high school RHPs -- Chris Carpenter of Bryan, Ohio, and Christopher Martin of Arlington, Tex. -- among the top 25. Carpenter was taken in the seventh round, and Martin was selected in the 18th.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "There's no question we need improvement from our bullpen. Some of it could come from within. But we do need to be improved in that regard." -- Tigers President/CEO and GM Dave Dombrowski, assessing Detroit's needs for the 2005 season.