04/16/2016: WILSON READY, FARMER DOWN
- Activated Alex Wilson (RHP) from Detroit's 15-day disabled list
- Optioned Buck Farmer (RHP) to Toledo
- Placed Bruce Rondon (RHP) on Toledo's 7-day disabled list with strained hamstring, retroactive to 4/13
With Wilson ready to come off the disabled list after pitching in back-to-back days, someone had to head out, and the odd man out was Farmer. The right-hander has consistently struggled to get big league hitters out, whether in the bullpen or the rotation, though he did have two scoreless appearances in last two outings. Farmer is likely to be stretched back out in Toledo, adding some flexibility for bullpen needs down the line. Wilson, who was arguably the only reliable member of the Tigers' 2015 bullpen, will return to the club in middle relief, ideally filling that middle relief role that the Tigers have already been missing at times this year, having to stretch their late inning trio at times to cover.
The club won't need to make any moves to open up a spot in Toledo, because the Mud Hens placed Rondon on the disabled list after he strained a hamstring in workouts. Rondon is expected to be out at least a couple of weeks while he recovers.
04/12/2016: MCCANN HURT, WILSON UP
- Placed James McCann (C) on Detroit's 15-day disabled list with a right ankle sprain
- Purchased contract of Bobby Wilson (C) from Toledo
- Transferred Drew Longley (C) from Erie to Toledo
- Assigned Tim Remes (C) to Erie from extended spring training
- Released Sauris Mejia (OF) and Will Kengor (1B)
The timing of the McCann injury is obviously unfortunate, coming just days into the season, and shortly after the Tigers had traded Bryan Holaday. If it turns out that McCann is only out for a couple of weeks, Wilson will be an adequate fill-in on the roster, especially when you consider the Tigers added Jarrod Saltalamacchia to have a bench presence with some pop. But if the injury sidelines McCann for a month or more, the club will be without its leader behind the plate on the field, and could start to suffer offensively as well.
04/02/2016: FINAL SPRING CUTS
- Placed Angel Nesbitt (RHP), Daniel Norris (LHP), Jeff Ferrell (RHP), Cameron Maybin (OF), Alex Wilson (RHP) and Blaine Hardy (LHP) on Detroit's 15-day disabled list
- Purchased the contract of Logan Kensing (RHP) from Toledo
- Released Scott Sitz (RHP), Alberto Cordero (C), Luke Carlin (C), Raffy Lopez (C) James Robbins (1B), Jiwan James (OF), and John Mayberry (OF)
Among the final cuts from Tigers camp, none were big surprises, though there was a former prospect on the list in James Robbins, who had some serious pop in his bat, but struggled to make consistent contact. Another slight surprise release was Mayberry, who was signed back in the winter and before the Upton signing, was thought to have an outside shot at competing for a spot on the big league roster.
04/01/2016: HOLADAY DEALT; RONDON, BERNARD OPTIONED
- Re-signed Bobby Parnell (RHP) and Casey McGehee (3B) to minor league contracts and assigned to Toledo
- Reassigned Nate Schierholtz (OF) and Lendy Castillo (RHP) to minor league camp
- Optioned Matt Boyd (LHP) to Toledo
- Signed Wade Hinkle (1B) to minor league contract
With the moves to send Schierholtz and Castillo to minor league camp, barring a last minute trade or injury, the 25-man roster is set. The Tigers still have 31 players in big league camp, but six of them - Cameron Maybin, Jeff Ferrell, Alex Wilson, Daniel Norris, Blaine Hardy and Angel Nesbitt - are headed to the disabled list.
That means that the final spots in the bullpen go to Buck Farmer and Logan Kensing, with Kensing obviously the biggest surprise of the group. Kensing was a non-roster invitee after being signed this off-season after pitching with Seattle and their Triple-A team Tacoma last year. With plenty of big league experience, this won't be a too tall task for Kensing, and yielding a 2.61 ERA over nine appearances was good enough to secure a spot. With Wilson and Hardy likely ready to come off the DL within the first few weeks of the season, his stay in Detroit likely won't be long.
While it had been expected for a few days now, the move of Schierholtz out of camp along with the Holaday trade also locks Tyler Collins into the final position player roster spot.
03/29/2016: HOLADAY DEALT, RONDON, BERNARD OPTIONED
- Traded Bryan Holaday (C) to Texas in exchange for Bobby Wilson (C) and Miles Jaye (RHP)
- Optioned Wynton Bernard (OF) and Bruce Rondon (RHP) to Toledo
- Released Casey McGehee (3B) and Bobby Parnell (RHP)
It's been a flurry of moves that will likely influence the final few roster spots over the past couple days in Lakeland, as the Tigers parted ways with a couple of non-roster invites, optioned a couple more players out, and made the long expected move of trading Holaday.
The decisions to option down Bernard and Rondon would have been practically expected a month ago - Bernard was not under serious consideration for a job after a solid year in Double-A Erie, and Rondon was ticketed for Triple-A Toledo to continue to develop off the field and work on his consistency. But injuries appeared to open up the chance for either to make a run at a spot. Bernard however hit just .212 with no extra-base hits in 33 at-bats this spring, while Rondon posted a 9.00 ERA, giving up ten runs on 13 hits, though he did strike out 13. The decision to send out Bernard likely means that Tyler Collins is the odds-on favorite to win the final outfield spot, until Cameron Maybin returns from his broken hand.
Parnell's release surprised many, but the Tigers are likely doing Parnell a favor of releasing him now and seeing if there's an opportunity with another big league club. Parnell was seeing improvement as spring wore on, including his velocity dialing up, but he still had an 8.68 ERA with 15 hits allowed in ten games, with as many walks as strikeouts. There's a good chance that Parnell could end up back with the Tigers if he doesn't find a big league opportunity elsewhere.
Finally, the Holaday trade was made given the inevitable roster squeeze that was going to happen, even though the Tigers could have trade to play some roster games to delay it. Wilson has proven himself to be a serviceable backup catcher over the years, while spending most of his career at age 32 in the minors. This will allow the club to send him to Toledo and serve as the third catcher in the event an injury occurs at the big league level. Jaye is a former White Sox prospect that had already been traded once this off-season. In 2015, he pitched for the Birmingham Barons (Double-A), posting a 3.29 ERA over 26 starts, but with a rather pedestrian 6.34 K/9 rate, as he relies heavily on a low-90's sinker that results in plenty of contact, and could be a back-of-the-rotation starter candidate in a year or two.
03/26/2016: MOYA/MACHADO OPTIONED, 12 MILB CUTS
- Optioned Steven Moya (OF) and Dixon Machado (SS) to Toledo
- Released Chase Edwards (RHP), Josh Heddinger (RHP), Jack Fischer (RHP), Ross Seaton (RHP), Will Clinard (RHP), Julio Felix (RHP), Nate Fury (RHP), Yaniel Cabezas (C), Corey Baptist (1B), Tyler Hanover (IF), Raph Rhymes (OF) and Austin Schotts (OF)
The Tigers made a couple of waves of moves on Saturday, sending two players out of big league camp in Moya and Machado. While neither had much of a chance of making the 25-man roster, Moya in particular showed well, hitting .367 with a double and four home runs. After a disappointing 2015 campaign, many will hope that this spring is a sign of things to come, much like in 2014 when Moya started hot in spring training and rode that wave to the Eastern League MVP crown.
Meanwhile, the organization released another dozen players from minor league camp. Many of the releases were somewhat expected, among players that were struggling to solidify a role. Clinard and Schotts are among those that used to be highly regarded prospects that struggled in their development after initial success. Others were simply the reality of a crowded roster with only so many spots and so much availability.
03/23/2016: MERCEDES, ORDONEZ RELEASED
- Released Melvin Mercedes (RHP)
- Released Magglio Ordonez Jr. (OF)
With the organization since 2008, Mercedes was a member of the TigsTown Top 50 for several years before seeing his star fade over the past two seasons. He appeared in more than 250 minor league games, and in August of 2014 he made his lone MLB appearance, striking out two and retiring all six batters he faced. A 2014 38th-round pick out of American Heritage School in Plantation, FL, Ordonez was always more of a name than a prospect, seeing just 71 at-bats in parts of two seasons and batting a paltry .113.
03/21/2016: TIGERS CUT SAYERS, LaMARCHE, FIVE MORE
- Released Adrian Castano (LF)
- Released Will LaMarche (RHP)
- Released Jacob Kapstein (1B)
- Released Aaron Sayers (SS)
- Released Chris Taladay (C)
- Released Andres Tejada (RHP)
- Released Angel Vasquez (RHP)
None of these cuts are terribly shocking, though Aaron Sayers was at one point thought to be a somewhat promising infielder from Australia, and LaMarche was a 9th-round pick out of Louisiana State in 2013. Outfielder Adrian Castano was also a 2013 draft pick (26th round), a rare late-round high school pick who actually signed with the Tigers, but he saw only 52 games of action in parts of three seasons.