TigsTown.com - Paul Wezner

Detroit Tigers Transaction Blog: Steven Moya to Toledo, Minor League Cuts include Austin Kubitza

Minor League cuts are coming out in waves now as the Tigers trim their rosters in anticipation of the minor league season getting underway next week.


  • Outrighted Steven Moya (OF) to Toledo after he cleared waivers

  • Placed J.D. Martinez (OF) on Detroit’s 10-day disabled list

  • Signed Bryan Holaday (C) to a minor league contract and assigned to Toledo

  • Released Victor Padron (OF), Mike O’Neill (OF), Emanuel Chavez (RHP), Jared Reaves (SS), Joe Rogers (LHP), Jose Zambrano (IF), Rashad Brown (OF), Ismael Salgado (OF), Steven Fuentes (3B), Austin Kubitza (RHP), Carlos Lara (RHP), Noel Ovalles (RHP), Tanner Donnels (IF), Calvin Drummond (RHP), Gabe Hemmer (RHP), Logan Longwith (RHP), David Martinez (RHP), Jordan Smith (RHP), Sean Halton (1B), Omar Artsen (2B), Brett Pirtle (2B), Jose Zambrano (IF), and Garrett Mattlage (SS)


After his disastrous spring camp, things ended up working out for the Tigers, as no other big league club was interested in carrying Moya on their 25-man roster, and he cleared waivers and made it to Toledo. The potential remains there, but time is obviously running out for the big slugging outfielder, who missed a golden opportunity to lay claim to the right field job when Martinez got hurt earlier in spring.


A welcome return to the organization is Holaday, who will split catching duties with John Hicks in Toledo. Holaday was a numbers crunch casualty  at the beginning of the 2016 season, and Holaday has since appeared with Texas, Boston and was released earlier this spring by Philadelphia.


Down on the farm, the Tigers have made a number of cuts over the past several days. Among the noteworthy names are lefty Joe Rogers and righty Austin Kubitza, former fourth round picks that flamed out in the upper levels of the farm system. Players like Brown and Fuentes showed potential talent, but never turned that potential into production. And as the numbers crunch often does, some experienced backups like Jared Reaves and Garrett Mattlage felt the squeeze, especially as the Tigers have veterans in place to man positions at a number of the upper levels of the farm system, like Brendan Ryan and Alex Presley.


There are rumors of other cuts as well, and those will likely come out in the next few days as the club finalizes spring training rosters and any potential player movement - with guys like Omar Infante and Thad Weber not on rosters.



  • Optioned John Hicks (C) to Toledo

  • Reassigned Ruben Alaniz (RHP), Joe Jimenez (RHP), Logan Kensing (RHP), Arcenio Leon (RHP), Edward Mojica (RHP), Dominic Ficociello (3B/1B), Anthony Gose (OF) and Juan Perez (OF) to minor league spring training

  • Released Mark Lowe (RHP)



With the WBC over and just over a week until Opening Day, the cuts are becoming more serious with the Tigers sending out a number of players that were on the outskirts of competition. After the eight reassignments, one option and one release, the Tigers have 36 players left in camp, leaving 11 more players to be cut in the final week of spring training.


The most noteworthy moves were the reassignment of Gose to minor league camp (and their corresponding plans for him) and releasing Lowe. After 2016’s collapse, Gose entered camp on the outside looking in for the open center fielder job, and hit just .237 with two extra-base hits in 38 at-bats. What’s more noteworthy is that when he hits minor league camp, he’ll attempt to convert to the mound and try his hand at pitching while continuingto work in the outfield.. According to ESPN’s Keith Law, Gose was able to hit 97 with a bad delivery in high school and has always been known to have a strong arm from the outfield. While a long shot, a power reliever that throws left-handed is a rare commodity, and is certainly worth a try.


Meanwhile, the release of Lowe brings to an end his disappointing one-plus year tenure in Detroit. Signed prior to 2016 to a two-year, $11 million deal in order to help stabilize the back of the Tigers bullpen, Lowe flopped out of the gate, and by May was mostly pitching in mop-up duty. He had an opportunity to rebound this spring, but gave up 11 hits and three walks in 8 2/3 innings so far. His performance on Saturday was likely the final straw, in which he gave up a two-run triple, handed out a four-pitch walk, and then gave up a sacrifice fly to wipe out a three-run lead. So instead of keeping him around with other capable arms in the bullpen, the Tigers will pay Lowe $5.5 million to not pitch in 2017.



  • Optioned Sandy Baez (RHP) to Lakeland

  • Optioned Warwick Saupold (RHP) to Toledo

  • Reassigned A.J. Achter (RHP), William Cuevas (RHP), Dustin Molleken (RHP) and Brett Pill (IF) to minor league spring training

  • Assigned Arcenio Leon (RHP) to major league spring training as non-roster invitee



There still haven’t been any noteworthy big league camp cuts, as guys like Molleken and Saupold have made big league appearances before, but were unlikely to challenge for a spot in the bullpen this spring, barring a shocking run of injuries or a standout performance.


What is noteworthy was the club’s decision to add Leon to big league camp, driven by his impressive showings on the mound. Through five spring appearances, he’s given up just one hit with four strikeouts, and impressed enough to be added to Venezuela’s roster in the World Baseball Classic. Given the crowded bullpen, it still seems unlikely he’d push for a spot, but his addition is unusual this time of year, and only occurred because of how well he’s performed.


  • Optioned Buck Farmer (RHP), Drew VerHagen (RHP) and Chad Bell (LHP) to Toledo



  • Optioned Myles Jaye (RHP) to Toledo

  • Reassigned Austin Green (C), Grayson Greiner (C), Mike Gerber (OF) and Jason Krizan (OF) to minor league spring training



  • Optioned Jairo Labourt (LHP) to Erie

  • Optioned Victor Alcantara (RHP) to Toledo

  • Reassigned Jeff Ferrell (RHP) and Adam Ravenelle (RHP) to minor league spring training


  • Acquired Mikie Mahtook (OF) from Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations

  • Designated Anthony Gose (OF) for assignment


With questions still floating around about the Tigers plans for their outfield, the organization made a minor move to help shore up the group, adding Mahtook from the Rays. Mahtook has spent part of each of the last two season with the big league club, with a strong 2015 season, but struggled mightily in 2016, hitting only .195 in 65 games with a .523 OPS. In 2015, it was a vastly different story, with a .295 average and .970 OPS. Mahtook brings an intriguing power/speed combo to the table, with the ability to play all three spots in the outfield. His power has shown itself more in line drive than over the fence power, and has been limited in games given a lack of plate discipline that has resulted in lots of strikeouts and very few walks.


As far as the Tigers are concerned, Mahtook is likely in the running for one of the outfield spots, and might even have a chance to compete to start in center field. Mahtook more likely projects as a better candidate to be a fourth or fifth outfielder, or potentially a platoon partner that gets starts against left-handed pitching. He was stronger against lefty pitching, with an OPS about 250 points higher than against righties. That would complement a player like Tyler Collins (or Anthony Gose) well.


Speaking of Gose, to make room on the 40-man roster, the Tigers designated Gose for assignment. Given Gose’s issues last year, he’s obviously not in the Tigers good graces, and just about any other organization will likely have similar skepticism. If he does clear waivers, it’s possible the Tigers would still bring him to big league camp and give him a chance to compete, given the lack of a clear option for center field, and Gose’s success at times in the past.


  • Signed Justin Wilson (LHP), Bruce Rondon (RHP), Alex Wilson (RHP), Nick Castellanos (3B), Jose Iglesias (SS) and Andrew Romine (IF) to one-year deals


The Tigers continued their tradition of avoiding arbitration as they’ve done for this entire century, agreeing to contracts with all six players on the roster that were arbitration-eligible. The only group of the six was a potential candidate to not get a contract was Romine, but the Tigers value his versatility. And none of the group was at the level that J.D. Martinez was a year ago when he was able to command a two-year deal with a high price tag to go along with it.


  • Signed A.J. Achter (RHP), Edward Mujica (RHP), Omar Artsen (IF), Sean Halton (IF), Efren Navarro (IF), and Brent Pill (IF)

  • Invited the following players to Major League spring training; A.J. Achter (RHP), Ruben Alaniz (RHP), William Cuevas (RHP), Jeff Ferrell (RHP), Joe Jimenez (RHP), Logan Kensing (RHP), Dustin Molleken (RHP), Edward Mujica (RHP), Angel Nesbitt (RHP), Adam Ravenelle (RHP), Miguel Gonzalez (C ), Austin Green (C ), Grayson Greiner (C ), Dominic Ficociello (1B), Omar Infante (2B), Efren Navarro (IF), Brett Pill (IF), Brendan Ryan (IF), Mike Gerber (OF), Jason Krizan (OF), Juan Perez (OF) and Alex Presley (OF)


  • Signed Alex Avila (C ) to one-year deal

  • Designated Angel Nesbitt (RHP) for assignment

  • Signed Zack Cox (3B), Ronnie Mitchell (OF), Waldis Joaquin (RHP), Juan Carlos Perez (OF), Carlos Medrano (C ), Anthony Vasquez (LHP), Brendan Ryan (IF), Travis Blackley (LHP), Logan Watkins (IF), Jim Adduci (OF), Jake Brigham (RHP), Collin Balester (RHP), Jorge Marban (RHP), Gabriel Quintana (3B), A.J. Achter (RHP) and Quincy Latimore (OF)

  • Re-signed Alex Fernandez (IF), Alex Presley (OF), and Thad Weber (RHP)

  • Invited Perez and Presley to Major League spring training camp



The Tigers finally made an addition to the big league club, bringing long-time catcher Alex Avila back to the organization on a one-year deal (according to Jon Heyman worth $2 million), sharing time behind the plate with James McCann. The 29-year old spent 2016 with the White Sox, where he hit .213 with a .732 OPS, appearing in 57 games. The Tigers had Jarrod Saltalamacchia holding the role this past year, and were again looking for a left-handed hitter to complement McCann. McCann struggled offensively last season, with an ankle injury sidelining him for much of the first month, and appearing to slow him. His splits remain heavily skewed, with an .864 OPS against lefties for his career, but just a .570 OPS vs. righties, so a left-handed hitting catcher like Avila that can hold up offensively vs right-handed arms was necessary, in addition to Avila’s familiarity with the pitching staff, and his relationship with the club’s GM as the son of Al Avila probably didn’t hurt, either.


Elsewhere, the Tigers continued to add more minor league free agents to stock the upper levels of the farm system, with a handful of invites handed out for big league spring training.


  • Signed Ruben Alaniz (RHP), William Cuevas (RHP), Santiago Garrido (RHP), and Omar Infante (2B)

  • Re-signed Johan Belisario (RHP), Endrys Briceno (RHP), Jeff Ferrell (RHP), Logan Kensing (RHP), Dustin Molleken (RHP), Cory Riordan (RHP), Miguel Gonzalez (C),  Argenis Diaz (IF) and Gustavo Nunez (IF)

  • Invited Alaniz, Infante, Kensing, Molleken and Gonzalez to Major League spring training camp



Among the 14 signings, the Tigers have brought back many familiar names, but the most familiar is that of Infante, the club’s former second baseman who signed with Kansas City after the 2013 season, but was released last year after hitting only .239 for Kansas City, and not faring any better for Atlanta’s Triple-A club. It’s a relatively low risk move for the Tigers, who can hope that Infante might regain his swing that made him a mainstay in Detroit’s middle infield. If not, he serves to fill depth needs at the upper levels of the farm system.


Among the other signings, pitchers like Briceno and Belisario are intriguing arms that could evolve into big league caliber pitchers, while guys like Kensing, Molleken and Cuevas could compete for bullpen jobs, depending on how the offseason shakes out.



  • Selected Daniel Stumpf (LHP) from Kansas City and placed him on Detroit’s 40-man roster

  • Selected Sean Donatello (RHP) and Elvis Rubio (OF) and placed on Triple-A roster

  • Lost Edward Paredes (LHP) and Mario Sanjur in Triple-A Rule 5 draft



For the second straight season, Stumpf has been selected in the Rule 5 draft and has a new team to get accustomed to. He was also selected last winter by Philadelphia, but was ultimately returned to Kansas City after he struggled at the MLB level, posting a 10.80 ERA in seven games. Across four minor league stops though he found some success, with a 3.34 ERA in 29 2/3 innings, including 31 strikeouts. Stumpf features a low-90’s fastball with a good slider, and projects to be a solid situational lefty. He’s likely an insurance policy for the club, in the event the team moves Justin Wilson in the off-season.


Donatello worked as a late inning reliever for Double-A Jacksonville last season, posting a 3.40 ERA in 46 appearances, while Rubio split time between Class-A and High-A ball for Milwaukee, logging just a .568 OPS between the two levels with minimal power from the corner outfield spots.


11/18/2016: BAEZ ADDED TO 40 MAN

  • Purchased contract of Sandy Baez (RHP) from West Michigan



On the last day clubs could protect players from December’s Rule 5 draft, the only player the Tigers added to the 40-man roster was Baez, who tossed 113 1/3 innings for West Michigan in 2016, posting a 3.81 ERA, with 88 strikeouts and 28 walks. Baez possesses a mid-90’s fastball, and while his breaking stuff is still developing, the fastball could be good enough in limited appearances to let him work out of a big league bullpen, hence the Tigers protecting him.


The Tigers did leave one spot open on the 40-man roster, leaving pitchers and former high draft picks Kevin Ziomek and Austin Kubitza unprotected, and also opening up the possibility the Tigers will select a player in the Rule 5 draft. Kubitza struggled with a 4.89 ERA across Erie and Lakeland in 2016, but has an excellent slider that could make him an intriguing relief prospect. Ziomek meanwhile has been a well regarded prospect, but had surgery to address shoulder pain and numbness in his hands this past June, and is unlikely to be ready to pitch at full strength in the spring.



  • Designated Joe Mantiply (LHP) for assignment, who was claimed by New York Yankees off waivers

  • Designated Dustin Molleken (RHP) for assignment and outrighted to Toledo

  • Purchased contract of Myles Jaye (RHP) from Toledo

  • Purchased contract of Chad Bell (LHP) from Toledo



In a move to clear up roster space on the 40-man roster while protecting a couple additional arms, the Tigers tried to send both Molleken and Mantiply down to Toledo, but only Molleken made it through waivers. Mantiply made his big league debut in 2016, getting hit around in his September call-up to the tune of a 16.88 ERA over five appearances. Mantiply excelled in Erie however this season, with a 2.47 ERA over 51 innings, including 62 strikeouts. Mantiply still has the potential to be a lefty specialist out of the bullpen, but as the Tigers needed roster flexibility in their pursuit of getting younger and faster while adding financial flexibility, he became expendable.



  • Traded Cameron Maybin (OF) to Los Angeles Angels in exchange for Victor Alcantara (RHP)

  • Exercised club option for Francisco Rodriguez (RHP)



For complete analysis of the Tigers trade of Maybin to the Angels, read http://www.scout.com/mlb/tigers/story/1724288-analysis-maybin-gone-alcantara-promise Analysis: Cameron Maybin Gone; Victor Alcantara Promise



  • Signed Sandel De La Cruz (RHP) to a minor league contract

  • Signed Arcenio Leon (RHP) to a minor league contract

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