|March 3||12:00 PM|
- CATCHING UP ON MINOR MOVES
Chad Smith (RHP) claimed by Athletics off waivers
Signed Casper Wells (OF) to minor-league deal
Signed Ryan Perry (RHP) to minor-league deal
Signed Ross Seaton (RHP) to minor-league deal
Signed Bobby Borchering (1B) to minor-league deal
Released Victor Cortez (1B)
The reclamation of past prospects continued in recent days, as the Tigers signed a handful of players to minor league contracts, two of whom are former prospects in the organization and appeared with the big league club, before being traded away. Since being traded, Wells has logged Major League time with four other organizations with little success, and split last season between Triple-A with the Cubs and playing Independent ball. Meanwhile Perry returns after the Nationals cut him - they tried to convert him from a reliever to a starter in 2013, but had a 6.72 ERA in 2013, then made just five starts last season.
Among non-familiar names, Seaton was a long-time Astros farmhand that Houston let walk after seven seasons, without ever making it to the big leagues. He posted a 5.01 ERA for his career, working mostly as a starter, and is likely to be added to a minor league rotation for depth purposes. Borchering started out his pro career at third base before being tried in the outfield and ultimately ending up at first - he’s a minor league depth signing given the potential need for a first baseman as Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez recover from their injuries.
|February 24||9:00 AM|
- TIGERS INK CHAMBERLAIN
Signed Joba Chamberlain (RHP) to one-year deal
Designed Chad Smith (RHP) for assignment
Originally reported by Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, and later confirmed by the Tigers, the club is bringing back Chamberlain on a one-year deal. According to Jason Beck of MLB.com, the deal includes a $1 million base salary, with another $500K in appearance-based incentives.
The move is the latest on the part of the Tigers to help fortify a bullpen that struggled mightily in 2014, and at least for the first half of the season, Chamberlain was the lone bright spot. He finished the year with a 3.57 ERA over 63 innings of work, including an 8.4 K/9 ratio.
It really was a tale of two halves however for Chamberlain. After emerging as a shutdown setup man in the first half, he appeared to wear down over the course of the season, as his ERA in the second half nearly doubled, while his K rate fell and walk rate jumped. His velocity also dropped down a bit, with his average fastball velocity falling from 94.9 MPH in the first half to 93.9 MPH in the second half.
There’s been no word yet on what sort of role Chamberlain would have with the club, but it’s a safe bet that he’ll be competing for one of the middle relief spots, as opposed to being locked into a setup or closer role.
|January 20||12:00 PM|
- 17 NON-ROSTER INVITES
Invited 17 non-roster players to Major League spring training. RHP’s Alberto Cabrera, Rafael Dolis, Joel Hanrahan, Tim Melville and Luke Putkonen; LHP’s Omar Duran and Joe Mantiply; C’s Miguel Gonzalez, Austin Green, Grayson Greiner and Manny Pina; 1B’s Jordan Lennerton and Aaron Westlake; IF’s Josh Wilson and Jefry Marte; and OF’s Xavier Avery and Jason Krizan
The Tigers will invite 17 players to Major League spring training this year, featuring a number of familiar names as long-time prospects, along with a few recent signings to add organizational depth that came with a big league invite to camp.
Names like Hanrahan and Putkonen are the ones that fans should watch most closely, as they’ll compete for a spot in the bullpen, and someone like Wilson could receive a look at utility infielder if either Andrew Romine or Hernan Perez falters.
Barring injury, it’s unlikely any of the other players being invited to camp have a legitimate shot at competing for a spot on the 25-man roster that breaks camp.
|January 16||3:00 PM|
- PRICE AMONG THREE TO AVOID ARBITRATION
Signed David Price (LHP) to one-year contract worth $19.75 million
Signed Alfredo Simon (RHP) to one-year contract worth $5.55 million
Signed J.D. Martinez (OF) to one-year contract worth $3 million
Outrighted Luke Putkonen (RHP) to Toledo
Signed Daniel Schlereth (LHP) to a minor league contract
Signed Thad Weber (RHP) to a minor league contract
The Tigers came to terms with three of their four arbitration-eligible players on Friday, including signing Price to the richest contract ever awarded to a player eligible arbitration, by a wide margin. The previous record had been held last year by Max Scherzer, who received just over $15 million.
Simon and Martinez also both received substantial raises, with Simon making about $4 million more than he did in his All-Star 2014 campaign, and Martinez getting a significant bump after being signed last year as a minor league free agent when Houston released him.
The lone holdout was Alburquerque, who the Tigers exchanged arbitration numbers with on Friday. While the two sides are far apart ($2.1 million to $1.4 million, per Jon Heyman), general manager Dave Dombrowski has never gone to a hearing with a player since he’s been in charge of the Tigers, so it’s a safe assumption that a deal will be reached.
|January 12||12:00 PM|
- MILB IF JOSH WILSON SIGNED
Signed Josh Wilson (2B) to minor league contract
With the numerous trades of middle infielders at the upper levels of the organization in recent months (Devon Travis, Eugenio Suarez, plus Domingo Leyba from West Michigan), and still some uncertainty with Jose Iglesias’s return from injury, the Tigers could use some more depth in the infield, and Wilson provides that as an experienced utility infielder, bouncing around to a number of organizations over the last decade.
Wilson has just 1,100 plate appearances over those ten seasons, seeing limited playing time and frequently getting in the game as a late-inning defensive replacement. His defensive value has consistently been solid, especially at second base, while he’s serviceable at both third base and shortstop. However, he’s extremely limited with the bat, with just a .267 career wOBA, and over the last five years has basically been a replacement player, at a 0.0 fWAR.
Wilson is most likely to serve as an infielder for Toledo, but could always be called on to come up to Detroit and fill a role in a pinch. It’s unlikely he’d see playing time ahead of either Hernan Perez or Andrew Romine though, so fans panicking about extensive action for Wilson are likely over-reacting. This is a move to add organizational depth, nothing more.
|January 7||12:00 PM|
- TIGERS SIGN GORZELANNY
Signed Tom Gorzelanny (LHP) to one-year deal
Designated Luke Putkonen (RHP) for assignment
The Tigers continued their bullpen makeover when they signed Gorzelanny to a one-year, incentive-laden contract with a base salary of $1 million. Gorzelanny has bounced around between clubs and roles over the last several years, but was mostly a reliever for Milwaukee over the past two seasons. Gorzelanny fits what the Tigers like in a reliever; someone that gets swings and misses(8.1 K/9 as a reliever for his career), but has also battled control issues throughout his career (3.8 BB/9). He’s expected to get the first look and benefit of the doubt as the top left-hander in the bullpen.
Gorzelanny was excellent last year in Milwaukee, but made just 23 appearances due to shoulder surgery sidelining him for half of the season. In his 21 innings though, he posted a miniscule 0.86 ERA, along with a still very good 2.99 FIP.
To make room for Gorzelanny, the Tigers designated Putkonen for assignment. He made just two appearances last year until he underwent elbow surgery that ended his season. He does have a live arm, so there’s a slight risk he could be claimed. But given he hasn’t pitched since the injury and wasn’t considered a top prospect prior to that, it’s unlikely.
|January 3||1:00 PM|
- MINOR LEAGUE SIGNINGS
Re-signed Michael Torrealba (RHP) to a minor league contract
Re-signed Brandon Douglas (2B) to a minor league contract
Re-signed Francisco Martinez (3B/OF) to a minor league contract
Signed Miguel Gonzalez (C) to a minor league contract
Re-signed Jordan Lennerton (1B) to a minor league contract
Catching up on some minor league signings, where the Tigers brought back four players to the organization, all of whom will serve as minor league depth at the upper levels of the farm system. Lennerton and Martinez have both spent time on the Tigers’ 40-man roster, however, neither have made a big league appearance and their prospect status has faded. Nevertheless, they should help to compete for jobs in Toledo.
The new member of the org is catcher Miguel Gonzalez, who was signed from the Chicago White Sox. Gonzalez is a career .253 hitter in the minors, and also hit .253 last year across Double-A and Triple-A. He is just 24 years old and did appear in five big league games for the White Sox back in 2013. He’s been regarded as a very good defensive catcher (being named the White Sox best defensive catching prospect five times by Baseball America), but his bat never materialized. In a pinch, he could be utilized as a big league backup, and will likely get in time in Toledo or Erie, depending on how things play out in spring training.
|December 11||1:00 PM|
- PORCELLO SWAPPED FOR CESPEDES
Traded Eugenio Suarez (SS) and Jonathon Crawford (RHP) to Cincinnati in exchange for Alfredo Simon (RHP)
Designated Melvin Mercedes (RHP) for assignment
It seemed unlikely that the Tigers would make it through the winter meetings without making some noise, and that proved to hold true, as the Tigers were incredibly active on Thursday, with the big move landing power-hitting outfielder Yoenis Cespedes from Boston, while giving up Porcello to get him.
Cespedes was originally a target of the Tigers back when he was a free agent defecting from Cuba in 2012, but the club ultimately signed Prince Fielder to help replace the offense lost when Victor Martinez was lost for the year when he tore his ACL, effectively ending their pursuit of Cespedes. While his offense was comparable to what the Tigers got from Torii Hunter last year, his defense was above average, saving 12 runs in left field (Hunter was -18).
Both Cespedes and Porcello are free agents after the 2015 season, but since the Tigers can’t give Cespedes a qualifying offer, they also received Wilson and Speier in return. Wilson will compete for a middle relief job in Detroit after posting a 1.91 ERA (but 3.91 FIP), while Speier is a nice young arm to add to the farm system.
Simon gives the Tigers another pitcher for their starting rotation, though at age 33, 2014 was the first year that he was a full-time starter and approached 200 innings, and even then, he was worth only about one win. He could be a serviceable fifth starter, but there’s undeniably a pretty substantial loss in the rotation, going from Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello to Simon and Shane Greene.
Suarez filled in adequately at shortstop last year, but with the anticipated return of Jose Iglesias, plus Hernan Perez and Andrew Romine still available, Suarez might have been without a role this year. Crawford meanwhile remains an arm with plenty of potential, but a lot of development left and despite being a college first rounder two years ago, is still years away from contributing at the big league level.
Because of the 40-man roster impact, the Tigers designating Mercedes for assignment was a necessary move. He’s showed potential in the past as a big righty that can dial up a fastball and be a groundball machine, but he struggled in 2014 with Toledo, with a 4.92 ERA and just a 4.6 K/9 ratio.
|December 5||2:00 PM|
- TRADE FOR GREENE, GIVE UP RAY/LEYBA
Traded Robbie Ray (LHP) and Domingo Leyba (2B) to Arizona as part of a three-team trade. Receive Shane Greene (RHP) from the Yankees in return
The trade solidifies the Tigers fifth starter spot, as there no longer will be an open competition for a job in the rotation, barring an injury. For complete analysis on the deal, check out the scouting viewpoint in the TigsTown Analysis as well as A Closer Look at Greene, Statistically.
|November 26||3:00 PM|
- CARRERA ELECTS FREE AGENCY, MILB SIGNINGS
Claimed Josh Zeid (RHP) off waivers from Houston and added to Detroit’s 40-man roster
Designated Ezequiel Carrera (OF) for assignment, outrighted to Toledo. Carrera elected free agency
Signed Jefry Marte (3B) to a minor league contract
Signed Tim Melville (RHP) to a minor league contract
Signed Omar Duran (LHP) to a minor league contract
Signed Xavier Avery (OF) to a minor league contract
After claiming Josh Zeid off waivers, the Tigers had to let someone go from the 40-man, and elected to drop Carrera, who filled in as center fielder last summer after the trade of Austin Jackson, but was not likely to be a long-term solution. Rather than accepting his assignment to Toledo, Carrera chose to become a free agent and it’s unlikely he’ll return to the organization, especially after the acquisition of Anthony Gose earlier this offseason.
Zeid has a live arm, with a fastball that averaged 95 MPH according to Pitch Info last season, along with a slider that got a swing and miss 20% of the time, but struggled on the mound when it came to results, yielding a 6.97 ERA in 23 appearances. He did average nearly 8 strikeouts per nine innings though, and with an xFIP of 3.87, could be a useful reliever for the club.
Many of the minor league signings made are mostly depth plays for the organization, as is typical this time of year. Marte comes to the Tigers via the Athletics, where he hit for a solid average and posted a good walk rate, but has shown limited power in games despite flashing much more in BP. Melville was highly regarded in the Royals system once upon a time, but injuries and a lack of control derailed his career. Duran was a strikeout machine for the A’s in A-ball and Double-A, but has had even more extreme issues with his control. Avery made his big league debut back in 2012 with the Orioles, but got shipped to the Mariners in 2013 and hasn’t returned to the MLB-level since, but did have a solid year for the Mariners in Triple-A last season.
|November 20||10:00 AM|
- NESBITT, MACHADO ADDED TO 40-MAN ROSTER
Purchased contracts of Angel Nesbitt (RHP) and Dixon Machado (SS) from Erie and added to Detroit’s 40-man roster
With the 40-man roster deadline on Thursday to identify who to protect in advance of the Rule 5 draft, the Tigers elected to protect only two players; Nesbitt and Machado. Both were logical additions that were identified in TigsTown’s Rule 5 preview Wednesday as needing to be protected.
While a handful of players could have also garnered consideration, the glaring omission is righty Edgar de la Rosa, who has showcased a live arm while mostly working as a starter. He’s 24 years old with only A-ball experience, so the risk of exposing him in the Rule 5 Draft is likely limited, but as a bonafide prospect with an impressive arm, it’s somewhat of a gamble on the part of the Tigers.
|November 17||12:00 PM|
- AVILA’S OPTION PICKED UP
Exercised option on Alex Avila (C ) for one-year, $5.4 million
This move shouldn’t come as a surprise to many, as despite some fan outcry, is still solid offensively and very good defensively, in addition to being highly valued for his work with the pitching staff. That, coupled with the limited number of alternatives available, and the high price free agents like Russell Martin are commanding, a deal like this is a relative bargain for the club. The risk remains the long-term health of Avila, as he’s battled a variety of injuries over the past few years, and more recently, has had issues with head trauma and concussions, which could put his career in jeopardy.
|November 14||12:00 PM|
- TIGERS RE-SIGN HANRAHAN AND MARTINEZ
Re-signed Victor Martinez (DH) to a four-year, $68 million deal
Re-signed Jack Hanrahan (RHP) to a one-year minor league contract valued at $1 million, with Major League incentives valued at $2.5 million
The news of the Martinez deal broke earlier in the week, but was made official on Friday. The deal makes Martinez the largest contract ever given to a designated hitter in history, with the average annual value of the deal sitting at $17 million. Owner Mike Ilitch made a rare public appearance at the signing press conference, reinforcing his desire to win now and putting his money where his mouth is in the process. The deal will obviously help keep the Tigers competitive in 2015, but presents major risks at the back end of the deal, when V-Mart will be 39 years old.
The Tigers also made their first move to the bullpen, but it wasn’t a blockbuster, simply bringing back Hanrahan on a minor league contract. The club liked what they saw out of Hanrahan when they signed him last May and hoped he could contribute down the stretch, but his recovery from Tommy John surgery didn’t go as smoothly as planned, and he was eventually shut down before ever making a big league appearance. The Tigers are optimistic that with several more months of rest and recovery, he’ll be ready to compete for a bullpen job in spring training. The risk here becomes that he still might not be, and might not ever be, and can’t fully be counted on to fill a role just yet.
|November 13||12:00 PM|
- TIGERS TRADE TRAVIS FOR ANTHONY GOSE
Traded Devon Travis (2B) to Toronto for Anthony Gose (OF)
As noted in the trade recap, while this deal received major headlines along the lines of the Tigers trading their top prospect for a starting center fielder, that might be pushing things on both sides. Gose is still very limited offensively, while TigsTown continues Travis someone in the neighborhood of the top ten, not a top prospect. But, it still provides the Tigers with a good defensive option for center and potentially a platoon option. While Gose has a career .633 OPS, he has been much more effective against right-handers, which has been primarily how the Jays used him in three years of sharing time.
|October 31||3:00 PM|
- DIRKS LOST TO WAIVERS, SORIA OPTION PICKED UP
Extended qualifying offers to Victor Martinez (DH) and Max Scherzer (RHP)
Outrighted Don Kelly (UT) to Toledo
Outrighted Evan Reed (RHP) to Toledo
Placed Andy Dirks (OF) on irrevocable waivers; claimed by Toronto Blue Jays
Placed Pat McCoy (LHP) on irrevocable waivers; claimed by Baltimore Orioles
Purchased the contract of Wynton Bernard (OF) from West Michigan and placed on Detroit’s 40-man roster
Released Manuel Joseph (OF/SS)
Many of the moves announced on Friday were of a housekeeping nature; opening up roster spots and preparing for free agency. The decision to extend qualifying offers to Scherzer and Martinez also comes as no surprise, as the Tigers hope to retain both players, and if they don’t, will receive draft pick compensation in return. The various other moves leave the 40-man roster sitting at 36 active players, before any additional Rule 5 Draft protection decisions are made.
The decision to place Dirks on waivers though is a surprise, after he entered 2014 with the expectation of being a most days starter in the outfield. Instead, he battled more injuries, a continuing hurdle for him, and likely the reason the Tigers elected to move on, as they simply couldn’t rely on him to be healthy for a 162-game season.
The second surprise move was the decision to add Bernard to the 40-man roster. Bernard would basically have qualified as a journeyman minor leaguer entering the spring, when he was signed in an open tryout. TigsTown was the first to point out how impressive he looked in spring camp, and that he’d likely be a major contributor to the Whitecaps, though no one could have predicted by would be crowned Midwest League MVP. Still, to protect a player on the 40-man indicates a belief that he could contribute to the big league club soon, and that would seem to be a stretch for a player like him.
Finally, not publicized with the rest of the moves, but the Tigers elected to release Joseph, who was named the DSL Tigers Player of the Year by the TigsTown this summer. Joseph excelled at the plate and was one of the best players in the DSL, but the Tigers made the decision to let him go due to some off the field concerns.