Tigers Sign Rogers, Cruceta

On Friday, the Tigers announced they had re-signed left-handed starter Kenny Rogers to a one-year deal. They also announced they have come to terms with right-handed reliever Francisco Cruceta. To open up room, the Tigers designated first baseman Chris Shelton and outfielder Timo Perez for assignment.

The Tigers were in need of a starting pitcher still, and Kenny Rogers was the ideal fit, after finishing up his second season with the Tigers.

A deal between the two parties seemeed imminent after Rogers fired agent Scott Boras. Rogers had stated earlier on that if he returned to pitch in 2008, it would be as a Tiger. Boras consequently appeared to try leveraging other teams into making an offer, a tactic Rogers didn't appreciate.

After establishing himself as the team's ace in 2006, Rogers battled injuries for much of 2007, including missing the first half of the season with a blood clot. For the year, he was a 3-4 with a 4.43 ERA. He had 36 strikeouts and 25 walks in 63 innings pitched.

The signing of Rogers means the Tigers have four members of their rotation set. The fifth spot will be competed for amongst a number of younger pitchers, including Andrew Miller, Virgil Vasquez, and Yorman Bazardo.

The Tigers have also signed Francisco Cruceta to a major league contract for the 2008 season. Originally signed by the Dodgers out of the Dominican Republic in 1999, Cruceta took off once moving to the Indians farm system in the 2002 trade that sent Paul Shuey to the Dodgers.

After a solid campaign at Triple-A in the Texas organization in 2007 (3-0, 3.02 ERA in 25 games), Cruceta has been dominating the Dominican Winter League. In 13 relief appearances for Gigantes del Cibao, Cruceta has posted a miniscule 1.08 ERA with 25 strikeouts in 16-2/3 innings.

The 26-year old Cruceta has a live arm with a sinking fastball that sits routinely in the 92-95 range, and an above-average hard biting slider.

Though those are his two primary weapons, he has also toyed with both a circle change and splitter in the past, with modest success. His sinker-slider combo generates plenty of swings and misses, while also inducing groundballs at a fair rate. Control has been an issue with Cruceta, but even modest improvements like he has shown in the Dominican this winter can lead to dominating results. Given his winter success, he will likely have an opportunity to earn a job in the Detroit bullpen out of spring training, with the fall back of heading to Toledo to wait for a chance with the Tigers.

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