- The Tigers announced this morning that right-hander Jordan Zimmermann will begin a rehab assignment at Triple-A Toledo on Friday. Zimmermann has pitched for Detroit just once since June 30, lasting just 1 2/3 innings in his lone start back from a neck strain that sidelined him for the entire month of July. After that abbreviated return, Zimmermann went back on the DL with a lat strain, but he’ll look to make his return to the Tigers early next month. A healthy Zimmermann would be a breath of fresh air for Detroit, as the team currently sits just three games back from a Wild Card spot and 5.5 back from the division-leading Indians.
AUG. 23: The Tigers announced today that Parnell has cleared waivers and been released.
AUG. 18: The Tigers announced that they have designated right-hander Bobby Parnell for assignment and selected the contract of veteran outfielder Alex Presley from Triple-A Toledo. Parnell’s DFA creates a spot on the 40-man roster for Presley, and he’ll be added to the big league roster at the expense of outfielder Steven Moya, who has been optioned back to Toledo, per the club.
Parnell, 31, has tossed 5 1/3 innings for the Tigers at the big league level this season after inking a minor league deal in Spring Training. He’s allowed four earned runs (6.75 ERA) on seven hits and five walks (one intentional) in that time, with the rest of his work coming at the Triple-A level, where he’d been pitching prior to his DFA. Parnell’s work in the minors has been more respectable but still nowhere near the excellence he showed with the Mets from 2010-13, when he totaled a 2.79 ERA at the big league level and emerged as New York’s closer. In 43 1/3 innings with Toledo this season, he has a 3.98 ERA with 6.2 K/9 against 3.7 BB/9.
The 31-year-old Presley opened the year with the Brewers and logged 129 plate appearances, adding to his already considerable big league experience. The left-handed hitter owns a lifetime .253/.296/.383 slash at the Major League level was hitting .293/.378/.398 with Toledo at the time of his promotion. Presley can handle all three outfield spots, so he’ll give skipper Brad Ausmus another option in center field with Cameron Maybin on the shelf. Moya, meanwhile, will head back to the minors to continue to work on his plate discipline. The 25-year-old demonstrated his above-average power by clubbing five homers in just 95 Major League plate appearances, but he also punched out an alarming 34 times against just five walks in that span.
The Tigers have activated center fielder Cameron Maybin from the 15-day disabled list and optioned shortstop Dixon Machado to Triple-A Toledo, reports Evan Woodbery of MLive.com. Maybin, who went on the DL on Aug. 10 (retroactive to Aug. 6) with a sprained left thumb, will rejoin the Tigers’ lineup Sunday and bat second against the Red Sox.
Maybin has endured two DL stints this season, but the 29-year-old has posted strong numbers in between. In 261 plate appearances, Maybin has slashed .325/.394/.398, also adding 13 stolen bases on 17 attempts. A difficult-to-maintain BABIP of .382 has helped fuel Maybin’s output at the dish, but the former Marlin, Padre and Brave has made legitimate gains this year in terms of plate discipline. Both Maybin’s 14.9 percent strikeout rate and 10 percent walk rate are career bests, and his BB/K ratio of .67 ranks well above the league-average mark of .39.
Maybin’s return is a welcome one for 64-59 Detroit, which has lost two in a row to fall 3 1/2 games behind Baltimore for the American League’s second wild-card spot. In addition to Maybin, the Tigers’ lineup has been without third baseman Nick Castellanos for most of August. Castellanos, who suffered a fractured left hand on an Aug. 6 hit by pitch, is nowhere near ready to swing a bat or return to game action, according to Jason Beck of MLB.com. As a result, the Tigers have increased the timeline of his recovery from the originally announced four weeks.
“Four [weeks] is probably too short,” general manager Avila said, “and we’re hoping seven [weeks] is too much.”
Seven weeks would point to a mid-September return for Castellanos. In the meantime, barring an outside acquisition, Casey McGehee is likely to continue filling in for Castellanos. The 33-year-old McGehee has hit just .264/.278/.283 with one extra-base hit and one walk in 54 plate appearances this season.
- The Tigers are looking to just-acquired infielder Erick Aybar for a boost, though they won’t necessarily install him as the regular shortstop, George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press writes. It seems that the 32-year-old is likely to share time up the middle with Dixon Machado for the time being, and presumably he’ll move into more of a utility role upon the anticipated return of Jose Iglesias and Nick Castellanos from the DL later this year. Aybar got off to a hideous start with the Braves, though he had hit much better leading up to the trade. “I know it’s been a down year,” manager Brad Ausmus said of Aybar’s season to date. “He’s not necessarily here to replace anybody. If he comes in here and plays well he’ll play. Simple as that. We’re in the business of winning baseball games. If he helps us win baseball games he’ll play.”
Ciriaco represents another infield option for the injury-addled Tigers, who also just acquired Erick Aybar from the Braves. He could well play a niche role for Detroit down the stretch once rosters expand at the start of September, as both his glove and his baserunning have typically drawn good reviews.
The Tigers won’t be expecting much out of Ciriaco at the plate, though. He owns a .256/.282/.302 batting line over 273 plate appearances on the year at Triple-A with the Rangers and Marlins organizations. And he has slashed only .268/.294/.368 over his 649 trips to the dish at the major league level over parts of six seasons.
The Tigers have announced a deal to acquire shortstop Erick Aybar from the Braves. Headed in return to Atlanta are infielder Mike Aviles and catcher Kade Scivicque. Detroit will receive cash in the deal, per David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (via Twitter). Tigers GM Al Avila declined to discuss details, but did offer that “it’s pretty even” in terms of the salaries involved, MLB.com’s Jason Beck tweets.
Detroit made the move with its two starters on the left side of the infield — shortstop Jose Iglesias and third baseman Nick Castellanos — currently parked on the DL. Adding Aybar will presumably provide an option at both positions, though he has played almost exclusively up the middle over his 11-year career.
[Related: Updated Tigers Depth Chart]
Aybar, 32, was picked up by the Braves in last winter’s Andrelton Simmons deal. Presumably, the club hoped he’d provide a steady option that might turn into a trade chip, but it wasn’t always smooth sailing. After an abysmal start to the season and some injury issues, the veteran has actually been rather productive of late.
Things began to turn around in June, when Aybar slashed .302/.393/.396 upon his return from the DL. Though he dipped a bit in July, he is putting up a strong .333/.333/.519 batting line over 54 plate appearances thus far in August. The overall results aren’t pretty, and defensive metrics are also down on Aybar’s glovework, but Detroit is understandably focused on near-term performance in bolstering its roster for the stretch run. With Aybar set to hit the open market after the season, he’s a pure rental.
The Braves appear to have sent a fairly significant amount of cash to facilitate the swap. Aybar was earning $8.5MM this year, while Aviles is playing on a $2MM deal. With about $2.18MM still owed to the former and around $517K to go for the latter, Atlanta would have needed to send around $1.5MM to make up the difference.
It’s tough to view the inclusion of Aviles as much more than a salary-balancing tactic, though he’ll presumably bolster the infield depth and provide a veteran presence for the rebuilding Braves. He had been relied upon rather heavily by the Tigers in June and July, but generally hasn’t produced in his age-35 campaign. Overall, Aviles owns a .210/.258/.269 slash over 181 plate appearances.
The key to the deal from the Braves’ side is the addition of the 23-year-old Scivicque, who was taken in the fourth round of the 2015 draft. He has spent the entire year at the High-A level, posting a .282/.325/.380 batting line with six home runs. Still, he was recently rated the 20th-best prospect in a thin Tigers system by MLB.com, which credited his strong receiving skills while noting that he may not have enough bat to profile as more than a back-up in the majors.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
- Right-hander Jeff Ferrell, who was designated for assignment by the Tigers last week, was released by Detroit yesterday, tweets Evan Woodbery of MLive.com. The 25-year-old entered the season as Detroit’s No. 21 prospect, per Baseball America, but he hasn’t pitched since May due to injury. Last season, Ferrell notched a 2.58 ERA with 10.6 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in 38 1/3 innings at the Double-A level.
- Even as the Tigers continue to push hard for a post-season berth, the club faces tough impending questions on rising young righty Michael Fulmer. As Lynn Henning of the Detroit News writes, the organization still hasn’t decided precisely how to manage his workload with both the present and future in mind. The 23-year-old has exceeded even the most optimistic expectations in his rookie campaign, spinning 120 innings of 2.25 ERA pitching. But with his minor league frames included, he is already moving past his previous single-season high of 124 2/3 total innings pitched. Though manager Brad Ausmus notes that Fulmer doesn’t tend to run high pitch counts and isn’t throwing many high-stress frames, it appears that several skipped starts will be required to keep him on the bump down the stretch — and that’s all before considering a potential playoff berth.
- The Tigers aren’t likely to pursue outfield help unless Cameron Maybin has a setback, manager Brad Ausmus told reporters, including MLB.com’s Jason Beck. Maybin is on the 15-day DL with a sprained left thumb and hasn’t begun swinging a bat yet, so while a return by the end of the 15-day period (on Friday) doesn’t appear to be in the cards, Ausmus is optimistic that Maybin will be back sooner rather than later. Tyler Collins has been filling while Maybin is out, though as Beck notes, there was speculation that Carlos Gomez could be a fit for Detroit.
With the Tigers in Arlington to take on the Rangers, second baseman Ian Kinsler reflected on the November 2013 trade that sent him from Texas to Detroit for first baseman Prince Fielder, whose career ended this week because of neck problems. “It’s the best thing that’s happened,” said Kinsler of the deal (via Jason Beck of MLB.com). “Toward the end of my time in Texas, things got kind of stale, so to be able to be traded to an organization like Detroit really allowed me to kind of reflect on who I was as a player and what I needed to do to improve.” The 34-year-old’s two-plus-season run with the Tigers has been a resounding success. Dating back to 2014, his first year with the club, Kinsler ranks eighth among major league position players in fWAR (13.8) and has hit .287/.331/.441 with 49 home runs in 1,906 plate appearances. Kinsler, who’s slashing a robust .291/.347/.488 with 21 homers and 13 stolen bases this season, regards Detroit as the “perfect place” for him and hopes to finish his career there. Going forward, Kinsler is due a reasonable $11MM next year and the Tigers have a $10MM club option for 2018.
- The Tigers haven’t gotten great early returns on their investment in right-hander Jordan Zimmermann, whom they signed to a five-year, $110MM deal in the offseason. Not only has the ex-National posted disappointing numbers – 4.44 ERA and a career-low 5.55 K/9 in 97 2/3 innings – he’s also on the disabled list for the second time this season because of back and neck issues. “It’s been the most frustrating year of my career,” said Zimmermann (via Evan Woodbery of MLive.com) “Going on two months on the (disabled list) and we still don’t really have a true answer.” Zimmermann missed all of July and then returned to start Aug. 4, but he lasted just 1 2/3 innings and allowed six earned runs on six hits and two walks before heading back to the DL. The 30-year-old is currently making progress in his recovery, but there’s no timetable for his return, writes Woodbery.