Transaction Blog: 8 More Minor Leaguers Gone

With a combination of releases and retirements, the Tigers have had eight more players leave the organization.

April 3 9:00 AM

Aaron Westlake (1B) retired

Austin Pritcher (RHP) retired

Released Neil Carter (RHP), Tyler Clark (RHP), Kasey Coffman (OF) Daniel Schlereth (LHP), Johnnie Kirkland (RHP), Duncan McAlpine (C )


Minor league rosters have been assigned, including the extended spring training roster being set, and that also means more cuts. The Tigers released a half dozen more players from the organization, and saw two retire in Pritcher and Westlake.

The notables here are of course Schlereth and Westlake. Schlereth was re-signed by the club this off-season to a minor league deal, but no longer had the same stuff that got him onto the big league roster a few years ago. Westlake meanwhile is a former third round pick that never was quite able to put it together, never being able to take advantage of the power bat he had.

It’s possible that a few more releases will trickle out in the coming days, but usually most guys are told their fate immediately to give them a chance to catch on with another club, if an opening exists.

April 3 9:00 AM

Optioned Kyle Ryan (LHP) and Blaine Hardy (LHP) to Toledo

Reassigned Josh Wilson (IF) to minor league camp


The Tigers have almost finalized their Opening Day 25-man roster, and in fact, have one spot open now still left to fill. With the optioning of Hardy and Ryan, the Tigers seven man bullpen is set - Ian Krol and Angel Nesbitt will make the team, in addition to the five guys that were penciled into the bullpen shortly after spring began.

However, with the decision to send out both Hardy and Ryan, plus reassigning Wilson, and the plans to put Verlander and Rondon on the DL, the Tigers are sitting on only 24 players in camp. That could mean a trade is in the works, or it could mean the Tigers are going to bring Tyler Collins back over from minor league camp and provide an extra bench bat for at least the first week of the season. Jon Morosi of reports the Tigers are close to acquiring a reliever, which would fill that open slot.

April 2 10:00 AM

Placed Justin Verlander (RHP) on 15-day disabled list with right tricep strain, retroactive to March 27

Placed Bruce Rondon (RHP) on 15-day disabled list with bicep tendonitis


For the first time in his career, Verlander will head to the disabled list, after suffering what was originally called a cramp, but later diagnosed as a strain on his right tricep. The good news is that Verlander is throwing, the injury does not appear to be serious, but will require a little bit more time off. Rather than making his first start in the first series against Minnesota, he’ll be slated to come off the disabled list and make his first start on April 12.

With the off day in the opening series, there should not be a need for an additional starter, as David Price would start on Opening Day (April 6) and then take his next turn on normal rest in Cleveland on April 11. Anibal Sanchez, Shane Greene, and Alfredo Simon would take turns in that order in between.

Rondon meanwhile heads to the disabled list after he was unable to pitch in back to back days on Wednesday, with some discomfort in his shoulder. An MRI revealed no damage, but he will not throw until the pain goes away. He was formally diagnosed with bicep tendonitis. For a player recovering from Tommy John surgery, some unrelated soreness is not unusual as he gets back into pitching condition.

This likely means the Tigers will start the season with eight relievers, with the plan to send one down when Verlander is ready, and one less player competing for a spot in the bullpen with Rondon unavailable. That means all but one pitcher left in camp will go north with the big league club, barring a trade.

Ian Krol, Tom Gorzelanny, Blaine Hardy, Kyle Ryan and Angel Nesbitt were the ones competing (along with Rondon) for the final couple spots in the bullpen.

April 1 10:00 PM

Released Logan Ehlers (LHP), Jeff Holm (1B/OF), Steven Negron (IF), Brenny Paulino (RHP), James Philibosian (C ), and Orvin Tovar (OF)


Six more cuts from the back fields on Wednesday, including a pair of pitchers that were Top 50 prospects at one point in time - Ehlers and Paulino. Ehlers was in the top 30 as recently as two years ago, but he never rebounded from what at the time was believed to be arm fatigue, and struggled last year in Lakeland. Paulino meanwhile had incredible potential, but shoulder troubles for two straight season derailed his career. His velocity eventually came to close to returning, but his mechanics and delivery were significantly altered, and his work ethic never came along. The others were largely the result of a numbers game that plays out every camp, and is just an unfortunate reality of the game.

March 30 9:00 AM

Optioned Tyler Collins (OF) and Bryan Holaday (C ) to Toledo

Reassigned Manny Pina (C ), Aaron Westlake (1B), Jordan Lennerton (1B), Jefry Marte (3B), Xavier Avery (OF), Jason Krizan (OF) to minor league camp


It was a big cut day on Monday morning in Lakeland, as the Tigers sent eight players across the road to minor league camp. The six reassignments were all expected given the optimistic outlook on Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez, meanwhile the two options likely bring to an end any competition for a position player spot.

Collins had a solid spring for the Tigers, showing the left-handed power that he was expected to have, while showing all of the other desirable character traits for a part-time/bench player. Unfortunately for Collins, the skill-set he has just doesn’t mesh well with what the Tigers need for their bench - preferring speed and defense to pop. Given there are already four outfielders that will need to split time among the three spots, Collins would have likely received minimal playing time, so a role in Toledo is probably more beneficial anyway.

Holaday entered camp as the incumbent backup catcher, but was likely facing an uphill battle from day one, as the organization was ready to give James McCann a longer look behind the plate. McCann also projects to complement Alex Avila much better, with more pop and offensive output from the right side of the plate. Holaday will remain valuable to the club as the most-days catcher in Toledo, and will likely need to be summoned at some point this season given Avila’s injury history. But for now, the backup catcher job is McCann’s.

Big league camp is now down to 29 players, with only the final few relief spots left to be determined, barring a trade of some sort.

March 28 5:00 PM

Released Luke Putkonen (RHP), Tanner Bailey (RHP), Jacob Butler (RHP), Tyler Gibson (OF), Charlie Gillies (RHP), Alex Lakatos (RHP), and Daryl Norris (RHP)


About a week after the minor league games begin do we get the first wave of releases, and this year is no different, as the Tigers announced seven cuts this morning. The list was highlighted by Putkonen, who pitched in parts of three seasons with the big league club. He had a successful 2013 season with a 3.03 ERA and an 8.5 K/9 rate in nearly 30 innings, but was derailed last year due to a bone spur in his elbow that required surgery. Observers said that Putkonen clearly wasn’t the same this spring.

Most of the others were not surprises, draft picks mostly from either last year or two years ago. The one player that did draw some surprise was Gibson, an athletic outfielder that has struggled to produce much and show consistent growth on the field, but still flashed the ability that enticed the Tigers to give him the bonus that they did out of the draft in 2011. His 2014 season didn’t get off to a bad start, as he hit .272 for West Michigan, but broke his hand, sidelining him for a couple months, and derailing the season.

March 26 10:00 AM

Optioned Buck Farmer (RHP) to Toledo

Assigned Rafael Dolis (RHP) to minor league camp


Two more cuts from big league camp, again, neither a surprise. While the Tigers wanted to give Farmer a look in relief this spring, most scouts still feel his future is in the rotation, and with only one full year of pro ball under his belt, he needs more time. Dolis has a live arm and turned some heads in camp, but wasn’t near the top of the pecking order for a roster spot. Big league camp is now down to 37 players.

March 24 3:00 PM

Optioned Kyle Lobstein (LHP), Alex Wilson (RHP) and Josh Zeid (RHP) to Toledo

Assigned Alberto Cabrera (RHP) to minor league camp


More cuts from big league camp happened on Tuesday, as the Tigers sent out four pitchers, to bring the total number of players still in camp down to 39.

Neither Cabrera nor Lobstein were considered serious threats to make the team out of spring training, that despite Lobstein’s success down the stretch last summer, giving the Tigers six strong starts at a time when they were in desperate need for anyone to start a game and give them a chance to win a game. While Lobstein wasn’t in serious competition for a rotation spot with the five guys set prior to spring training beginning, he’s likely to be on the very short list should a need arise for a starter.

Wilson and Zeid were both added this off-season with the hope of being able to compete for a bullpen spot, however, with the return of Bruce Rondon and the resigning of Joba Chamberlain, right-handed relief roles were not plentiful. To add to it, both relievers struggled in their spring training appearances, with both posting an ERA over seven and walking more than they struck out. They will nevertheless be at the top of the list for when a bullpen need arises.

March 22 4:00 PM

Optioned Steven Moya (OF) to Toledo

March 20 10:00 AM

Assigned Omar Duran (LHP), Miguel Gonzalez (C ), Austin Green (C ), Joe Mantiply (LHP), Tim Melville (RHP) and Luke Putkonen (RHP), to minor league camp

Optioned Daniel Fields (OF), Dixon Machado (SS), Jose Valdez (RHP) and Drew VerHagen (RHP) to Triple-A Toledo

Optioned Wynton Bernard (OF) to Double-A Erie


The first round of cuts from big league camp are in, and there are no surprises yet, as is to be expected. Guys like VerHagen or Fields might have had a very outside shot at competing for a roster spot, but probably would have needed an injury or something along those lines to make it happen. The rest of the guys were destined for the minor leagues anyway, and just were getting the opportunity in big league camp.

Major League camp still has 44 players in it, so there will still be a number of additional cuts to get down to the final 25-man roster between now and when camp breaks just before Opening Day. Those decisions will likely involve quite a bit more competition and debate for the final roster spots.

As TigsTown has mentioned, there are only roughly five roster spots open at this point in time, with the other 20 spoken for. That means there are more or less 24 guys left in big league camp competing for one of five spots to start the year in Detroit.

March 18 12:00 PM

Signed Jiwan Jones (OF) to minor league deal

Signed Ryan Perry (RHP) to minor league deal

Signed Lance Durham (1B/DH) to minor league deal

Released Joel Hanrahan (RHP)

Jamie Johnson (OF) retired

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