Detroit Tigers Rumors

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Minor MLB Transactions: 7-3-15

Today’s roundup of minor transactions from around the league…

  • Outfielder Xavier Avery exercised a July 1 opt out clause and was granted his release by the Tigers, reports James Schmehl of (via Twitter). Formerly one of the Orioles’ top prospects, the fleet-footed Avery has enjoyed a very nice season with Triple-A Toledo to this point, hitting .305/.371/.393, although his typically strong success rate is stolen bases is down this year. The 25-year-old has swiped 14 bases but been caught 10 times. A former second-round pick, Avery has eclipsed the 30-steal mark four times throughout his minor league career.
  • Also via Schmehl, it seems that Avery’s spot will be filled by another once-promising outfield prospect, as he reports that Trayvon Robinson has signed a minor league pact with Detroit and is headed to Toledo. Once a well-regarded prospect in the Dodgers’ system, Robinson’s career has stalled a bit in recent seasons. He’s spent the early portion of the season with the Diamondbacks’ Triple-A affiliate, batting .276/.357/.448. He’s a career .258/.332/.423 hitter in parts of five Triple-A seasons. Robinson reached the Majors in 2011-12 with the Mariners but posted a .602 OPS in 319 total plate appearances.
  • First baseman Daric Barton has been released from the Blue Jays‘ Triple-A affiliate, tweets Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith. Barton, a longtime member of the Athletics, batted just .196/.282/.299 this season at Triple-A Buffalo. Still 29 years of age, Barton served as Oakland’s everyday first baseman in the 2010 season and led the American League with 110 walks that year. He’s slashed .216/.323/.284 in 600 big league plate appearances since that time, however.
  • The Blue Jays announced yesterday that the recently designated Steven Tolleson has cleared outright waivers and been outrighted to Buffalo. The 31-year-old utility man was designated on July 1 after his rehab assignment ended in the minors and Toronto had to make a call on his roster status. He’s been outrighted in the past and will therefore have the option to refuse the assignment in favor of free agency.

Draft Signings: Abdullah, Simcox, Pruitt

We’ll keep tabs on the day’s notable draft signings here, with slot values via Baseball America.

  • Dodgers eleventh rounder Imani Abdullah will sign for $647,500, Jonathan Mayo of tweets. SB Nation’s Eric Stephen has done some digging on the young hurler, who is fairly new to the mound and did not earn placement on any major prospect lists. He had been set to play for San Diego State University. All but $100K of L.A.’s spending on the projectable righty must be accounted for from its overall bonus allocation. The Dodgers have yet to agree to terms with many of their picks from the first ten rounds, including four of their first five selections (three of whom just finished playing in the finals of the College World Series).
  • The Tigers have agreed to a $600K bonus to land 14th-round pick A.J. Simcox, Jim Callis of reports on Twitter. A half-million of that payday will count towards the club’s overall pool limits. The University of Tennessee product is said to be a slick defensive shortstop. Baseball America graded him the 217th-best player available, saying that Simcox has a “line-drive swing” but has shown little in the way of power potential.
  • Another $500K bonus is set to hit the books, this one going from the Blue Jays to 24th-round pick Reggie Pruitt, Callis tweets. The Vanderbilt commit drew some relatively high grades entering the draft, with Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs placing him 146th on his list. had the outfielder in the 189th slot on its board, crediting him with outstanding speed while noting that his swing mechanics need work.

Tigers To Acquire Alexi Casilla From Rays

The Tigers have acquired infielder Alexi Casilla from the Rays in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports (Twitter links). Per the report, Detroit made the move to bolster its organizational depth up the middle.

Casilla, 30, has not seen big league time this year and played in just one game last year for the Orioles. Before that, however, he was rather an active utility player, mostly from the Twins. All told, Casilla has taken 1,893 plate appearances and produced a .247/.302/.331 slash with 80 stolen bases. He has spent most of his time at second, but also has plenty of experience playing shortstop.

Though he’s yet to receive a call-up, Casilla has actually been quite productive this year at Triple-A. Over 142 plate appearances, he has slashed .315/.379/.449. Though a .363 BABIP has helped drive that productivity, Casilla is showing better patience and power numbers than he did last year in the upper minors.

Cafardo On Buchholz, Samardzija, Cueto, Hamels

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe pit Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts against Tigers shorstop Jose Iglesias.  Of course, Boston once had both, but Iglesias was shipped out in 2013 in a three-team deal that brought Jake Peavy to Fenway.  Bogaerts offers more potential as a hitter, but Iglesias clearly has the superior glove.  That difference in the field never made Bogaerts doubt himself, however.

No, that’s just a guy who’s really gifted beyond anyone else,” Bogaerts said. “I just paid attention to trying to get better. I never compared myself to him because you can’t compare anyone to him. He’s a great defensive player and flashy.”

More from today’s column..

  • The same teams that are pursuing Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz are going after White Sox hurler Jeff Samardzija.  That list of teams includes the Royals, Tigers, Twins, Blue Jays, Yankees, Cardinals, Orioles, Angels, and Dodgers, according to Cafardo.  Late last week, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that the Astros are also interested in Samardzija.  Meanwhile, at this time, the Red Sox reportedly are not interested in moving Buchholz.
  • The Astros are a team to watch in July as they could get very aggressive in their pursuit of a starter.  Cafardo hears that the Astros have been evaluating Reds pitchers Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake quite a bit.  Cole Hamels obviously stands as one of the biggest prizes out there, but Cafardo feels he likely wouldn’t sign off on a trade to Houston.  Over the weekend, Hamels indicated that he would be “open-minded” to being traded to any team.
  • Giants GM Bobby Evans told Cafardo that his club is out of the starting pitching market for now thanks to the upcoming returns of Matt Cain and Jake Peavy.
  • The Phillies would like to sell off their pieces little by little rather than make a ton of deals right at the deadline.  However, Cafardo hears that teams aren’t coming to the table with actual offers yet, leaving the Phillies frustrated.
  • Baseball execs who spoke with Cafardo say the Mets are still the best match for Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.  A package for Tulo could start with left-hander Steven Matz, who makes his big league debut today.
  • Even at his advanced age, one NL evaluator feels that Phillies veteran Carlos Ruiz is still “a better option than “more than 50 percent of the catchers in the league.”
  • Some teams are concerned with Hamels’ poor performance in interleague play while others see it just as a fluky thing.  Hamels has a career 4.73 ERA across 31 interleague starts.

Tigers, Second-Rounder Tyler Alexander Agree To Terms

The Tigers and second-round pick Tyler Alexander have agreed to an over-slot $1MM bonus, reports’s Jim Callis (via Twitter). The slot value for the left-hander’s No. 65 overall selection had been $949,900.

A draft-eligible sophomore out of TCU, Alexander didn’t appear on many prospect rankings prior to the draft, though Baseball America rated him as the No. 327 prospect in this year’s class. Per BA, Alexander’s velocity is a bit below average, with his fastball sitting in the 88-90 mph range, but he succeeds due to excellent command. Callis notes that pitchability and Alexander’s breaking pitches are his strong suit. BA notes that his arm speed picked up during the season, causing his velocity to improve a bit.

The Tigers have also agreed to terms with top picks Beau Burrows and Christin Stewart, both of whom received the full value of their respective No. 22 and No. 35 overall slots.

Minor Moves: Dustin McGowan, Jayson Nix, Josh Prince

Here are the day’s minor moves …

  • Phillies righty Dustin McGowan has been added to the Triple-A roster at Lehigh Valley, per Director of Media Relations Matt Provence (via Twitter), meaning that he accepted his outright assignment. The club has also released infielder Jayson Nix. Over 195 plate appearances this year at the Triple-A level with the Phillies and Orioles organizations, Nix has struggled to a .162/.196/.222 slash. He has seen at least some MLB action in each of the past seven seasons, but will need to find another minor league opportunity to work his way back to the big leagues.
  • The Tigers have released infielder Josh Prince, James Schmehl of reports. Prince, 27, joined the Detroit organization as a minor league free agent after spending his entire prior pro career with the Brewers. He enjoyed a cup of coffee in 2013, but has otherwise played exclusively in the minors. Prince’s primary calling card is his speed — he has 217 professional stolen bases over parts of seven seasons — and his up the middle capabilities on defense. He had scuffled to a .205/.295/.299 slash in his 132 plate appearances at the Tigers’ Double-A affiliate.

AL Notes: Red Sox, Castellanos, Weaver, Anderson

Despite what has been a wildly disappointing season to this point, the Red Sox aren’t likely to completely blow up their roster again, writes Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports in his latest 10 Degrees column. For all of Boston’s 2015 woes, the team will still have Mookie Betts, Dustin Pedroia and Xander Bogaerts up the middle in 2015, and the departure of Mike Napoli via free agency could allow Hanley Ramirez to move over to first base with Rusney Castillo getting an everyday outfield role. Blake Swihart, too, has shown promise this month and gives the team another building block. Passan hears that the team has no designs on trying to dump either Ramirez or Pablo Sandoval to another club.

A few more notes from around the AL…

  • Nick Castellanos isn’t hitting well in 2015, but manager Brad Ausmus tells’s Jason Beck that the Tigers will remain patient with the young third baseman. The team has a plan on how to handle Castellanos’ struggles, and while Ausmus wouldn’t elaborate, there’s no talk of sending him to Triple-A or reducing his playing time dramatically. The 23-year-old Castellanos is hitting just .217/.267/.328 in 255 plate appearances this year.
  • Angels right-hander Jered Weaver hit the DL last night due to hip inflammation, writes Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times, and he’ll undergo an MRI to determine if there is anything more severe at play. Weaver said he’s felt a sharp pain in his hip on and off as of late, and DiGiovanna notes that there’s always some concern with this type of injury that the MRI will reveal a tear and necessitate surgery. The Halos did position themselves to be able to replace an injury to one of their starters this winter by acquiring Andrew Heaney and Nick Tropeano.
  • Cody Anderson is the Indians‘ latest attempt to fix what has been a revolving door in the fifth spot of their rotation, writes Zack Meisel of The 24-year-old rookie made his big league debut Sunday and pitched 7 2/3 scoreless innings against the Rays, limiting Tampa to six hits and a walk with four strikeouts. Manager Terry Francona was impressed not only by the results and Anderson’s poise on the mound, but his ability to hold runners and field his position. “I’m sure there’s a lot of guys in player development today that are really proud,” said Francona. “And, they should be, because he did a hell of a job.” For the time being, it seems that Anderson will have the opportunity to lock down that rotation spot, and I’d imagine his ability (or inability) to do so could impact Cleveland’s plans come July.

Draft Signings: Marshall, Hillman, Blankenhorn, Davila

It’s time to get caught up on some draft signings. Slot values courtesy of Baseball America.

  • The Giants have agreed to a well-above-slot, $750K bonus with fourth-round pick Mac Marshall, Chris Cotillo of SB Nation tweets. You might remember that Marshall was taken in the late rounds last year by the Astros, who fell short of a rumored last-minute attempt at a deal with him as they tried to work things out with Brady Aiken. Marshall had been set to play for LSU, but ultimately ended up in Junior College so that he could re-enter the draft.
  • Second-rounder Juan Hillman inked with the Indians, the club announced. The deal is for $825K, per Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer (via Twitter). Cleveland also announced several other signings, including third-rounder Mark Mathias and fourth-round pick Tyler Krieger. rated Hillman the 52nd-best player available, noting that the prep lefty is the son of long-time big leaguer Tom Gordon and half-brother of Dee Gordon.’s Keith Law had the highest grade on Hillman, ranking him 31st heading into the draft on the basis of his excellent feel and command at a young age.
  • Twins third-rounder Travis Blankenhorn gets a $650K bonus, Callis tweets. The high school third baseman was taken 80th overall, which came with a $754K slot allotment. Baseball America rated Blankenhorn 75th on its board, citing his athleticism, nice swing, and overall solid tools. Minnesota also added fourth-round pick Trey Cabbage for an above-slot $760K bonus, also per a Callis tweet. His signing was previously reported, but not the bonus amount, which lands well above the slot value of $517,900.
  • The Royals went over $300K above slot ($431,100) to sign high school lefty Garrett Davila, Callis tweets. He receives a $746K bonus after entering the draft rated within Law’s top 100 list. His fastball is not a very impressive offerin at present, but he has an above-average curve and still has some growing to do.
  • Javier Medina, the third-round pick of the Rockies, gets $740K to forego his commitment to the University of Arizona, Callis reports on Twitter. The 77th overall pick came with a $789,700 allotment, so Colorado will pick up some savings to add a pitcher who shows more feel than pure stuff, per Baseball America.
  • Pirates third-round selection Casey Hughston lands a $700K bonus that lands $107,300 above the slot value, per Callis (via Twitter). The Alabama outfielder has good all-around tools in addition to plus raw power, wrote in raking him 95th among available players. Pittsburgh fourth-rounder Jacob Taylor, a righty from Pearl River Community College, has agreed to a $500K bonus, Callis tweets. That represents a $60.6K bump over the slot value for the 127th overall pick.
  • The third-round pick of the Tigers, Dallas Baptist pitcher Drew Smith, announced that he has signed (h/t to’s Jason Beck). Callis reports on Twitter that the live-armed college righty will take home the slot value of $575,800.
  • The Braves have agreed to a $550K deal with third-round pick Anthony Guardado, Callis tweets. That signing saves the club $106,300 against the slot value of the 89th pick. Callis calls the high school righty a true pop-up prospect, and indeed he did not receive much pre-draft attention.
  • Fourth round pick Demi Orimoloye will sign for a $450K bonus, according to Callis (on Twitter), just shy of the $456,600 allotment for the 121st pick. The Canadian outfielder (who was born in Nigeria) drew rave reviews from BA, which rated him 41st heading into the draft based upon his loud tools and tall ceiling. There’s a lot of polishing that needs to be done, it seems, but Orimoloye looks to be a nice risk for the Brewers at this price tag.
  • Phillies fifth-round pick Bailey Falter, a projectable lefty, gets an above-slot $420K bonus, Callis tweets. Philly took him 144th overall, which came with a $373,100 slot value.
  • The 11th-round pick of the Mets, lefty Jake Simon, has agreed to a $400K bonus, Callis tweets. $300K of that money will count against New York’s overall pool, as any amount over $100K does for players taken after the tenth round.

AL Central Notes: Buxton, Sox, V-Mart, Tigers, Young

Speaking about the team’s recent promotion of top prospect Byron Buxton, Twins GM Terry Ryan told Kris Atteberry of Twins Radio (audio link): “We brought up Buxton because he’s the best one we had available at the time. We have a few guys down there that we considered, but they aren’t as good as Buxton, so we brought up Byron to give him a shot. … I’m hoping that things go well enough that we don’t have to worry about it.” Based on Ryan’s comments, it seems that Buxton will have the opportunity to play his way into a regular role moving forward. A productive Buxton would certainly increase Minnesota’s chances of remaining in the hunt for the division and could also eliminate a potential area of need in trades — an upgrade in the outfield.

More from the AL Central…

  • Asked by’s Scott Merkin about the possibility of the White Sox becoming deadline sellers, David Robertson said that he would be understanding of any route that GM Rick Hahn felt was best for the team. “If that happens, you know, that’s just part of the game,” said the closer, who signed a four-year, $46MM contract this winter. “That’s obviously a decision that I’m not even involved in. The organization has to do what’s best for them. If that’s the way this season turns out, then so be it.” Robertson, however, feels that the Sox still have the pieces to contend and believes a turnaround is possible with strong performances against division rivals in Kansas City and Detroit. Chicago is currently seven games under .500 and nine back in the AL Central.
  • Victor Martinez will rejoin the Tigers this weekend in New York and could be activated from the disabled list at that time, writes James Schmehl of Martinez has been out since May 19 but looked strong on a Triple-A rehab assignment to date, going 4-for-12 with a double in 12 plate appearances.
  • In a mailbag column, Schmehl addresses potential trade scenarios for the Tigers this summer, reporting that the team will consider adding starting pitching. Johnny Cueto and Scott Kazmir are two seemingly speculative names tossed out by Schmehl. He adds that Detroit is likely to add a relief arm as well, though not an elite closer like Aroldis Chapman, as the team is happy with Joakim Soria in the ninth inning.
  • In a piece for FOX Sports, Dave Cameron of Fangraphs examines the unique nature of Chris Young‘s ability to drastically outperform his FIP by virtue of consistently posting one of the lowest BABIP marks in baseball. While there’s a good amount of luck involved in BABIP, Young’s extreme fly-ball tendencies — specifically his ability to induce infield flies — has allowed him to post a .240 BABIP dating back to 2006. Cameron notes that in such a heavily analytical era, it’s not surprising that teams were so reluctant to gamble on a 36-year-old soft-tosser with a 5.02 FIP in 2014, but Young’s mastery of a rare skill set has made him a bargain.

Tigers Sign First-Rounders Burrows, Stewart

The Tigers have agreed to terms with first-rounders Beau Burrows and Christin Stewart. Burrows himself tweeted that he is now officially a member of the Tigers organization after signing. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports (via Twitter) that he’ll receive the full slot value of $2,154,200 for the No. 22 overall pick (slot values via Baseball America). Meanwhile,’s Jim Callis was the one to break the Stewart news, adding that he’ll receive the full slot value of $1,795,100 for his 35th overall selection (Twitter link).

Burrows, a high school right-hander out of Texas, ranked 42nd, 47th, 30th and 33rd on the respective draft rankings of Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel, ESPN’s Keith Law, Baseball America and Stewart’s respective ranks from that same group were 98th, 64th, 66th and 84th.

Burrows’ fastball velocity has jumped from the mid-90s in 2014 to the upper 90s in 2015, with BA saying he touched 97-98 mph and ESPN writing that he’s reached as high as 99. notes that he throws as consistently hard as nearly any arm in this year’s draft class. However, Burrows is also about 6’0″ or 6’1″ and 200 pounds, making him somewhat undersized. McDaniel and BA both mention some concerns over Burrows’ delivery, though BA notes that some may look at Sonny Gray‘s success and be intrigued by a similarly sized/polished arm.

As for Stewart, he’s said to have very good bat speed and plus raw power. McDaniel gives his raw power a 65 grade on the 20-80 scale, though his game power comes in at an average rating of 50. gives him 55 power and notes that fringy speed and arm strength make him a likely left fielder but notes that his home run power was on display more in 2015 than in previous years. BA calls him aggressive and mentions some swing-and-miss tendencies in addition to the aforementioned defensive question marks. All that said, both ESPN and note that a team that loves his bat — as the Tigers must — could very well see a regular corner outfielder.

Burrows was selected with the Tigers’ natural pick based on their place in the 2014 standings, whereas Stewart was selected with the pick the Tigers received when Max Scherzer signed with the Nationals as a free agent.