Detroit Tigers Rumors

Detroit Tigers trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

Astros Release Darin Downs

The Astros have released left-handed reliever Darin Downs, reports ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link). The 30-year-old was claimed off waivers out of the Tigers organization in 2013 but was outrighted to Triple-A following the 2014 season.

Downs spent significant time in the Houston bullpen last season but struggled to a 5.45 ERA with a 27-to-19 K/BB ratio with a 43.9 percent ground-ball rate in 34 2/3 innings of work. The cumulative result of Downs’ efforts in parts of three seasons at the Major League level is a 4.76 ERA with 8.3 K/9, 3.9 BB/9 and a 43.5 percent ground-ball rate. Downs’ overall numbers aren’t particularly eye-catching, but he’s held left-handed hitters in check quite well as a big leaguer, allowing just a .202/.291/.310 batting line in 189 plate appearances. Downs has a 4.96 ERA with 11 strikeouts against three walks in 16 1/3 innings at the Triple-A level this season.


International Notes: Martinez, Fox, KBO

A few notes on the international prospect front…

  • The Giants were among the clubs to scout 20-year-old Cuban center fielder Eddy Julio Martinez in the Dominican Republic recently, reports MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez (All Twitter links). At this time, the Giants, Yankees, Angels, Blue Jays, Nationals, Rockies, Tigers and Dodgers are all in the mix for Martinez. One scout placed the lofty comp of a young Andruw Jones on Martinez, Sanchez adds, though clearly not every scout will be quite that bullish. Martinez is expected to work out for more clubs this week and is eligible to sign at any time.
  • Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweeted recently that the Twins are also among the teams to have scouted Martinez (and other Cuban prospects) as of late. Wolfson hears that as many as 17 teams watched Martinez work out late last week.
  • Sanchez hears that interest in Martinez and in Bahamian shortstop Lucius Fox is picking up (Twitter links). Scouts love Fox’s tools, and the fact that he is already 18 years of age is actually a bonus in this instance, as he comes with more experience than most July 2-eligible prospects. Fox, unlike Martinez, isn’t eligible to sign prior to July 2.
  • Jung Ho Kang‘s early success with the Pirates will help pave the way for hitters from the Korea Baseball Organization to make the jump to Major League Baseball, opines C.J. Nitkowski of FOX Sports (video link). Manager Clint Hurdle recently revealed to Nitkowski that in Spring Training, he had some concerns about whether or not Kang would be able to handle the increased fastball velocity he’d encounter in Major League Baseball. As Nitkowski points out, that hasn’t been an issue for the powerful infielder to this point; Kang has seen 101 fastballs registering at 93 mph or faster, and he’s whiffed on just five of them in addition to going 9-for-18 on those that he’s put into play. Recent reports have indicated that Kang’s former Nexen Heroes teammate, Byung-ho Park, is hoping to jump to MLB himself next season.

Injury Notes: Fister, Marshall, Greene

Doug Fister received good news regarding his forearm flexor strain, tweets Dan Kolko of MASN Sports. An MRI revealed no issues with Fister’s elbow, according to Nationals manager Matt Williams. The right-hander may resume throwing in a few days. Fister is a free agent after the season so the MRI results are especially welcome. He’s off to a slow start with a 4.31 ERA, 4.08 K/9, and 2.27 BB/9.

Here’s more injury news from around the league:

  • Rehabbing Reds reliever Sean Marshall will need a second shoulder surgery, reports Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. Marshall is suffering from a torn anterior capsule and will be out for the remainder of the season. His previous shoulder surgery was to repair his rotator cuff. Marshall is in the final season of a three-year, $16.5MM contract. He’ll earn $6.5MM in 2015. His last full season was in 2012 when he picked up nine saves to go with a 2.51 ERA, 10.92 K/9, and 2.36 BB/9.
  • Tigers righty Shane Greene also received good news via MRI, writes Chris Iott of MLive.com. The preliminary results of the MRI revealed that the tingling Greene felt in his throwing hand on Friday night was the result of ulnar neuritis. There was some concern that the discomfort could signal a problem with his elbow. Greene underwent Tommy John surgery in 2008. He has a 4.21 ERA, 5.36 K/9, and 2.49 BB/9 in 47 innings.


AL Central Notes: Johnson, Aviles, Lindor, Avila

The White Sox yesterday made the decision to option second baseman Micah Johnson to Triple-A, recalling fellow infielder Carlos Sanchez to fill his spot on the roster and on the diamond. The 22-year-old Sanchez hit .344/.368/.466 in 137 plate appearances at Triple-A this season, whereas Johnson slashed a mere .270/.333/.297 in the Majors. Johnson is the more highly regarded prospect of the two, but as MLB.com’s Scott Merkin writes, GM Rick Hahn said he considers the demotion a “minor setback on the path to what we believe will be a successful big league career.” Second base has been one of many weak spots for the White Sox this season — a subject that Jeff Todd and I discussed in running through a surprising AL Central division on the latest MLBTR Podcast.

Here’s more from the AL Central…

  • Thoughts and prayers go out to Indians utility man Mike Aviles who, as Cleveland.com’s Zack Meisel writes, learned last week that his four-year-old daughter has been diagnosed with leukemia. Manager Terry Francona said that it’s possible Aviles will join the team this weekend. However, he could also be placed on the restricted list, thereby allowing him to take as much time as he needs to be with his family. That move would allow the club to add another player to the 25-man roster in Aviles’ place. We at MLBTR wish Aviles and his family the best in an unfathomably difficult time.
  • In a second article, Meisel breaks down the Indians‘ shortstop situation, noting that the team is in a difficult place. Cleveland had hoped that the issue of when to promote top prospect Francisco Lindor would be a challenge due to the strong play of Jose Ramirez. Instead, however, it’s a challenge because Ramirez is struggling so badly. As Meisel notes, the Indians almost certainly would like to keep Lindor in Triple-A until mid-to-late June in order to minimize the chance of him achieving Super Two status. However, the present roster is lacking alternatives. Aviles could replace him once he is ready to rejoin the roster, but the other primary alternative, Zach Walters has struggled quite a bit at the plate since being acquired by Cleveland.
  • Tigers catcher Alex Avila is opting not to undergo surgery to repair the knee injury that has landed him on the disabled list, reports Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press. According to Avila, multiple doctors suggested that he could potentially use a rest and rehab program to avoid surgery and get back on the field sooner than the expected 4-6 weeks he’d have missed with arthroscopic surgery. Avila is on the disabled list with a “loose body” in his knee, but doctors now believe that the abnormality in his knee is not actually loose. “They’re not convinced that it’s a loose body,” said manager Brad Ausmus. “There’s something in there, but they’re not convinced that it’s loose.” Avila is due to hit free agency following the 2015 season.

MLBTR Podcast: The Unpredictable AL Central

Jeff and MLBTR colleague Steve Adams look at every team in the AL Central, running down how their respective starts to the season — good and bad — could shape their activity over the summer.

Click here to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, and please leave a review! The podcast is also available via Stitcher at this link.

The MLB Trade Rumors Podcast runs weekly on Thursday afternoons.


Quick Hits: Mock Draft, Upton, Papelbon, Verlander, Rondon

Early mock drafts continue to roll out, with MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis releasing their first effort at spitballing the always hard-to-call results. The MLB.com team pegs high school outfielder Daz Cameron — son of longtime big leaguer Mike Cameron — as the likeliest current optiton for the Rangers at fourth overall.

Here are a few more notes from around the game:

  • The Padres expect outfielder Melvin Upton to begin a rehab stint in the near future given the improvement in his foot injury, MLB.com’s Corey Brock writes in response to a reader question. San Diego probably will not have any decisions to make until the start of June, says Brock, which is probably the earliest he’ll be ready to come off of the DL. What happens at that point remains to be seen, of course, but Brock notes that the club could theoretically give Wil Myers more time at first base to afford Upton a useful place on the roster — and a chance to attempt to return to form. In truth, Upton represents a free roll for the Friars, who took on his salary only to facilitate the addition of Craig Kimbrel. But the team has every incentive to see if it can get him back on track.
  • The market for Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon has evolved significantly over time, of course, and figures to continue to do so as the summer draws near. Corey Seidman of CSNPhilly.com argues that the Marlins currently make the most sense as a trade partner for Papelbon, whose contract appears more and more manageable over time — particularly as he continues to produce on the field. We just saw reports that the Fish are indeed exploring external options to bolster their pen, of course, and Papelbon remains an intriguing option. While I agree with Seidman that the division rivals would probably not hesitate to deal with one another, I wonder whether Miami would have the appetite for Papelbon’s still-hefty salary (he’s owed $13MM this year and $13MM next if his option vests).
  • The Tigers watched bullpens from two important right-handers today, as Jon Morosi of FOX Sports and Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press report (Twitter links). Starter Justin Verlander threw twenty pitches and left pitching coach Jeff Jones “very pleased,” while reliever Bruce Rondon also took a turn on the bump. Detroit ranks toward the upper-middle of the pack in terms of run prevention thus far in 2015, but the club has relied more than it might prefer on the largely untested Kyle Lobstein in the rotation and could certainly use a quality set-up man at the back of the pen. The progress of Verlander and Rondon, then, is likely to have a significant impact on the team’s summer plans.

AL Notes: Chris Young, Price, Rodon, Red Sox

Chris Young‘s career turned on a 1,168-word email the Royals right-hander wrote to a St. Louis surgeon in 2013 where he diagnosed himself as suffering from thoracic outlet syndrome, writes Andy McCullough of The Kansas City Star. Dr. Robert Thompson, director of the Washington University Center for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome concurred, and performed a decompression procedure to free the nerves in Young’s shoulder. “I feel better now at 35 than I did when I was in my late 20s, early 30s, because I was dealing with so much pain,” Young said. “I forgot what it was like to be healthy. Now I try to make up for lost time.” And that he has. Nearly two years after undergoing the career-saving operation, Young, the reigning AL Comeback Player of the Year, has been a relevation for the Royals pitching to a 1.06 ERA in seven games (including one start) with a 8.5 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 over 17 innings of work.

Elsewhere in the American League:

  • The next start for Tigers ace David Price will be pushed back from Thursday to Saturday to give his mild hamstring strain extra time to heal, reports Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter links). Price says he could have pitched on normal rest, so the move is simply precautionary.
  • The Tigers have a need for a left-handed power bat off the bench, but risk losing out-of-options infielder Hernan Perez to waivers if they attempt such an move, according to MLive.com’s Chris Iott.
  • After throwing 108 pitches in winning his MLB debut as a starter, the White Sox remain coy on whether Carlos Rodon will remain in the rotation or return to the bullpen, writes MLB.com’s Scott Merkin. “You’re also somewhat protecting the amount of usage you’re going to get out of him over the course of the year, so there’s some factors that go into it for him and his learning curve and things like that,” said manager Robin Ventura. “There’s more to it than he’s just ready to go.” If Rodon remains in the rotation for the rest of the season, Merkin calculates the left-hander will approach the team’s unofficial innings limit of 160.
  • The Red Sox‘s July 2014 trade of John Lackey for Allen Craig and Joe Kelly is looking worse and worse, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe opines. Craig performed poorly down the stretch in 2014 for the Red Sox and has been just as bad this year, and while Kelly’s radar gun readings have been impressive, his performance hasn’t (although his peripherals this season have been much better than his 5.72 ERA). Meanwhile, Lackey has pitched well for the Cardinals while making the league minimum salary.

Central Notes: Harris, Indians, Price

29-year-old rookie Mitch Harris‘ long path to the big leagues went through the Naval Academy and military service in the Middle East, Tyler Kepner of the New York Times writes. The Cardinals drafted Harris all the way back in 2008, but he did not actually pitch in the minors until 2013, after serving nearly five years in the Navy. “The early returns were not positive,” says GM John Mozeliak. “When we got him, he was throwing 80 miles an hour. He was in good condition, but not baseball condition.” Nonetheless, Harris made quick work of the minor leagues, getting up to 97 MPH this spring. The Cardinals promoted him two weeks ago, and he hasn’t yet allowed a run in 6 2/3 innings pitched. Here are more quick notes from the Central divisions.

  • The Indians will replace former Triple-A Columbus pitching coach Carl Willis with Tim Belcher for the next two days, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian tweets. After that, lower-level pitching coordinator Julio Rangel will take over in what sounds like an interim basis. Willis, of course, recently took over as the Red Sox’ new pitching coach.
  • Tigers ace David Price‘s MRI this morning showed he had a mild hamstring strain, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi tweets. The Tigers won’t place him on the disabled list, so he will make his next start Thursday against Minnesota. Price left Friday’s game after stepping on a bat while backing up home plate, but it appears he doesn’t have a significant injury.

Alex Avila Heads To DL, Surgery Likely

The Tigers have placed catcher Alex Avila on the disabled list, and he will probably need arthroscopic surgery to address a loose body (likely a piece of bone) in his left knee, George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press writes. The surgery would keep Avila out for two to six weeks. “Knee’s been bothering me so we had it checked out,” says Avila. “According to the doctor I have a loose body in there and so today we’re going to get a second opinion and go from there.”

The Tigers promoted catcher Bryan Holaday to take Avila’s place on the active roster, although James McCann will likely take over the starting role while Avila is out. Avila, 28, was batting .200/.342/.317 in 74 plate appearances this season. He is eligible for free agency next winter, at which point the 24-year-old McCann could take over in the starting role full-time.


AL Notes: Soria, Pirela, Jimenez

In Joakim Soria, the Tigers have found the top-quality closer they’ve lacked in the past several seasons, James Schmehl of MLive.com writes. Soria has been successful in all ten of his save chances this season while allowing just two runs in 11 2/3 innings. Over the past several years, the Tigers have leaned on the often unreliable Jose Valverde and Joe Nathan, with a strong partial-season performance from Joaquin Benoit in 2013 providing a few months of respite. The Tigers bullpen was a problem last year, and Schmehl notes that much of it is still shaky. But for now, their closer problem seems to be solved. Here’s more from the American League.

  • Jose Pirela‘s terrific hitting on a rehab assignment for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this weekend has the Yankees considering promoting him to the big leagues, Chad Jennings of the Journal News writes. Pirela, who’s returning from a concussion suffered in Spring Training, has had three or more hits in three straight games. Jennings notes that Gregorio Petit currently serves as the Yankees’ righty bench infielder, but that Pirela could provide more offense.
  • Infielder Luis Jimenez, who the Red Sox claimed from the Brewers this weekend, allows Boston to use their other bench players more flexibly, manager John Farrell says (via Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald). “Righthanded utility guy, we like the defense, particularly at third, if that comes into play,” says Farrell. “It gives us some more flexibility with Brock (Holt) and Daniel Nava, and hopefully a chance to get back to 13 position players.” Jimenez rates as a plus defensive third baseman and could prove to be a valuable backup for Pablo Sandoval. Jimenez can also play elsewhere in the infield.