Detroit Tigers Rumors

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

AL Central Relief Notes: Frasor, Nathan, Indians

Righty Jason Frasor was offered a one-year deal by the Twins this winter but decided to go back to the Royals when Kansas City got involved, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. The 37-year-old also added an interesting take on the process of free agency: “When you become a free agent and you’re a 37-year-old middle reliever, there’s not as many teams that come calling as you would think or hope. But that’s all right. I just needed one team.”

  • Veteran Tigers reliever Joe Nathan suffered a setback in a Triple-A rehab appearance today, as James Schmehl of MLive.com reports. Nathan came out after experiencing severe pain after the tenth pitch of his outing. Both Nathan and the club have stayed quiet this evening as to whether any more has been learned, but at a minimum it seems unlikely that he will join the team as quickly as had been expected.
  • Cody Allen has struggled thus far, but the Indians are not contemplating a closer change, per Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer“Cody is about as trustworthy and dependable as anyone we have,” said manager Terry Francona. The Cleveland pen has been poor by any standard thus far, and is not exactly teeming with alternatives. MLBTR’s Steve Adams noted that the team passed on an opportunity to upgrade there over the offseason, and it will be interesting to see whether that becomes an area to target if the Indians stay in contention over the summer.

Minor Moves: Drabek, Putkonen, Kirkman

Here are today’s minor moves from around MLB…

  • White Sox right-hander Kyle Drabek has cleared waivers and been sent outright to Triple-A Charlotte, the team announced on Twitter. The former top prospect was designated for assignment on Monday in order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for 2014 No. 3 overall pick Carlos Rodon.

Earlier Updates

  • The Tigers have re-signed right-hander Luke Putkonen to a Minor League pact, reports James Schmehl of MLive.com (on Twitter). Putkonen was in the team’s Triple-A clubhouse this morning and will pitch at Toledo in hopes of a return to the Majors. Detroit released Putkonen near the end of Spring Training after he yielded three runs on four hits and three walks with no strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings. The 28-year-old Putkonen missed most of the 2014 season after undergoing surgery to remove bone spurs from his elbow, but he was a nice bullpen cog for the Tigers in 2013, tossing 29 2/3 innings of 3.03 ERA ball with 28 strikeouts against nine walks.
  • The Brewers have signed lefty Michael Kirkman to a Minor League contract, reports SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (also via Twitter). Kirkman was released by the Rangers midway through Spring Training so that he could pursue opportunities with other teams. That opportunity clearly didn’t emerge immediately, but Kirkman will give Milwaukee an experienced arm to serve as a depth piece. The 28-year-old southpaw has a 4.98 ERA with 8.7 K/9 and 4.6 BB/9 across 106 2/3 Major League frames, though he does come with a reverse platoon split. Kirkman’s career was slowed by a battle with skin cancer, but he returned to the mound in 2014 and was healthy in Spring Training prior to his release.
  • A look at MLBTR’s DFA Tracker reveals four players in limbo as they await to find out if they’ve been traded, placed on waivers or released. Currently, Brandon Kintzler, Grant Balfour, Todd Redmond and Xavier Cedeno are in unresolved situations.

AL Central Notes: Greene, Moose, Morales, Twins

Tigers right-hander Shane Greene tells Chad Jennings of the LoHud Yankees blog that it “felt like I got dumped” when the Yankees traded him in the three-team Didi Gregorius trade this season. Greene says he’s pitching with a chip on his shoulder this offseason as he looks to continue proving himself. Manager Joe Girardi tells Jennings that it was tough for the Yankees to part with a young starter like Greene, but they felt it was necessary to get a potential everyday shortstop in Gregorius. Greene adds that he entered the offseason knowing that his trade value was perhaps at its peak: “If they were going to make a move, I was probably going to be one of the pieces. … I know it’s a business. I’m not a complete idiot, so I knew if something was going to happen, my name would be at least talked about with the situation over there. I’m excited to be here, and that’s all that really matters.”

More from the AL Central to kick off Wednesday morning…

  • Royals manager Ned Yost told Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star that he’s not sure he’s ever seen a player undergo such a drastic turnaround in an offseason as the one Mike Moustakas seems to have gone through. The former No. 2 overall pick is hitting the ball the opposite way frequently, and he’s hitting left-handed pitching in this year’s small sample as well. Yost joked that after all the faith that the Royals organization has shown Moustakas, “It’s almost like you want to stand up on this table and scream, ‘I told you so!'” Moustakas has worked with hitting coach Dale Sveum to re-work his swing, and the results are apparent to him and his teammates. Eric Hosmer noted that he’s never seen Moustakas hit the ball to left field as often as he does now.
  • Had the Royals successfully reeled in Torii Hunter as a free agent this offseason, they likely wouldn’t have signed Kendrys Morales, GM Dayton Moore told the Star’s Vahe Gregorian. Moore and his staff considered Morales the next-best free agent bat after Hunter signed, and though he had a dismal 2014 season, the Royals attributed it to not beginning his season until June 8 as he took a long route to circumventing draft pick compensation after turning down a qualifying offer. The Royals judged him based largely on his 2012-3 seasons, which looks to have paid off thus far. Morales is hitting .351/.413/.544 through 63 plate appearances.
  • The Twins have once again constructed a pitching staff — specifically a bullpen — that cannot miss bats, and that deficiency is already costing them, writes Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Twins relievers faced 26 Royals batters over the past two games and combined to strike out just one hitter — an unthinkably low rate in today’s game of specialized bullpens. Twins relievers are averaging just 5.18 K/9, which is dead last in baseball and ranks nearly a full strikeout worse than the 29th-ranked D-Backs (6.08).


Central Notes: Harris, Verlander, Lucroy

The Cardinals are set to promote righty reliever Mitch Harris on Tuesday, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch tweets. When Harris makes his first pitch with the Cardinals, he’ll become the first graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy to pitch in the big leagues in nearly a century, as Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan wrote last month. The Cardinals drafted the 29-year-old Harris in the 13th round all the way back in 2008, but Harris spent several years honoring his commitment to the Navy, traveling the world as a weapons officer. The Navy didn’t allow him to join the Cardinals organization until the 2013 season. Once he did, though, the Cards moved him quickly through the minors, and after a handful of innings at Triple-A Memphis, he appears set to make his big-league debut. Perhaps that will come in Washington, where the Cardinals play tomorrow through Thursday. Here are two more quick notes from the Central divisions.

  • Justin Verlander‘s MRI last Thursday confirmed the Tigers‘ initial diagnosis that he has a strained right triceps, James Schmehl of MLive.com writes. He won’t throw anymore until his arm stops feeling sore. Schmehl notes that Verlander is currently on the disabled list for the first time in his ten-year career. He has not yet pitched this season.
  • In other injury news, Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy is headed to the disabled list with a broken left toe, MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy tweets. The loss of one of their superstars is an awful blow to a Brewers team that’s already in a 2-10 hole this season. Lucroy was hitting .167/.250/.214 in 48 plate appearances in 2015. Martin Maldonado will, presumably, handle the bulk of the Brewers’ catching duties in his place.

Cafardo’s Latest: Giants, Craig, Lackey, Hamels, Kazmir, Viola

Though the Giants have had a rough start to the season — their 4-9 record has them at the bottom of the NL West — new GM Bobby Evans isn’t overly concerned yet, and an early-season trade for reinforcements is unlikely, he tells the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo“At this point you’re just going back to players that were offered you before that you didn’t deal for,” Evans explains. “Players who some teams are still trying to move that you took a pass on.” Injuries have already been a problem for San Francisco, who saw Hunter Pence go down with a broken forearm in Spring Training and have already placed both Matt Cain and Jake Peavy on the 15-day disabled list. Cafardo notes, however, that in all three of the Giants’ recent World Series runs, midseason acquisitions such as Cody Ross, Marco Scutaro and Peavy have played integral roles (I’d add Pat Burrell‘s name to that list as well), and this year will likely be no different if the Giants are to ultimately turn things around.

Here’s more from Cafardo’s weekly Sunday Baseball Notes column…

  • The Red Sox are in a catch-22 with Allen Craig, writes Cafardo. His poor 2014 performance has reduced him to a bench player, and no team is currently making much of an effort to acquire the first baseman/outfielder. However, if he doesn’t play much, he’s unlikely to look any better and boost his trade value.
  • Right-hander John Lackey is hopeful that the Cardinals will approach him about a contract extension, Cafardo reports, but the team is currently thrilled to have him at just the league minimum. Lackey’s preference may be to remain with the Cardinals, but he’ll likely pitch in 2016 whether it’s in St. Louis or elsewhere, as he recently told USA Today’s Bob Nightengale that he wouldn’t be pitching this year if he didn’t plan to play beyond 2015.
  • One general manager who has inquired recently tells Cafardo that the Phillies‘ asking price on Cole Hamels has not dropped one bit since the beginning of the season, despite the fact that Hamels has had two rough starts in his first three appearances of the year. Hamels has, somewhat incredibly, yielded seven homers in just 18 innings after surrendering only 14 in 204 2/3 frames last year. Of course, homer-to-flyball ratio tends to stabilize around 10-11 percent (Hamels’ career mark is 11.2 percent), and he’s currently sporting a remarkably high 36.8 percent HR/FB, so better days are almost certainly ahead for Hamels.
  • An AL scout who has attended both of Scott Kazmir‘s starts this season says he’s never seen the left-hander more confident or more impressive on the mound. “Don’t know if it’s because it’s his walk year and he can become a free agent, but if he keeps this up most of the season, he’s going to make himself a lot of money,” said the scout. Of course, that’s just one scout’s take, but Kazmir has been electric to date. The 31-year-old has whiffed 18 hitters against five walks in 13 innings, and the 91.7 mph he’s averaged on his two-seamer in those two starts is up from last year’s average of 90.9, though it remains to be seen whether not that increase can be maintained.
  • David Price‘s hot start to the season makes it likely that his offseason price will land somewhere in the vicinity of Max Scherzer‘s seven-year, $210MM and Clayton Kershaw‘s seven-year, $215MM pact, one Major League source opined to Cafardo.
  • Former Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield is helping Frank Viola III, the son of former AL Cy Young winner Frank Viola, develop a knuckleball, Cafardo writes. Viola III was a 29th-round pick by the White Sox back in 2004, but Tommy John surgery and knee surgery derailed his career, and he retired from the game in 2010. He returned in 2014 and pitched with the Blue Jays’ Class-A affiliates, and he’s now aiming to get a look in the independent leagues as he attempts to work his way back into the game. Viola III has also worked with R.A. Dickey and Hall of Famer Phil Niekro on honing is skill with the pitch.

Quick Hits: Trout, Wilson, Tigers

Mike Trout is taking a more aggressive approach this season, writes Buster Olney for ESPN Insider. The result is a likely improvement to his 26.1% strikeout rate from last year. The new approach is designed to avoid pitchers’ counts. While we can’t draw any statistical conclusions from his 42 plate appearances, he has a 11.9% walk rate and 16.7% strikeout rate.

Olney also included a number of other interesting topics. Those include home runs allowed by Cole Hamels, Curtis Granderson‘s low swinging strike rate, and Mike Moustakas‘ all-field approach. Here’s more from around the league.

  • The Rangers own the baseball rights to Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, and they want him to play, Wilson told HBO’s Bryant Gumble (via Mike Florio of NBC Sports). Wilson, 25, was a two sport athlete in college. He spent a couple seasons in the Rockies minor league system, hitting .229/.354/.356 in 379 plate appearances. A tepid Single-A performance mixed with three years away from the sport isn’t encouraging, but Seahawks GM John Schneider notes Wilson’s off the charts confidence and preparation. It strikes me as unlikely that anything will come of Wilson’s interest in playing two sports. If something were to happen, it’s seemingly too late for the 2015 season.
  • The Tigers have done an excellent job remaining consistent while overhauling their roster, writes Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. The team won the AL Central in each of the last four seasons and currently sports the top record in baseball (9-2). Aside from Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Alex Avila, and Justin Verlander, most of the roster has turned over since Detroit won the AL pennant in 2012. Much of the credit goes to President and GM Dave Dombrowski who has overseen major trades involving Ian Kinsler, David Price, and Joakim Soria in recent seasons (among others).

Heyman’s Latest: Padres, Buehrle, Greene

The Padres declined to part with top outfield prospect Hunter Renfroe in their deal for closer Craig Kimbrel, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.  At the same time, the Braves weren’t sold on top catching prospect Austin Hedges and feared that his hitting might not develop enough. Ultimately, that left pitcher Matt Wisler as the key prospect in the deal.  Here’s more from Heyman’s column..

  • Blue Jays left-hander Mark Buehrle is considering retirement following the 2015 season, Heyman reports. While he notes that April retirement ruminations often prove to be inaccurate, there seems to be a strong possibility that the 36-year-old Buehrle will call it quits.
  • Tigers executives were shocked that they were able to pry right-hander Shane Greene away from the Yankees this winter, Heyman writes. The Yankees considered trading Greene “painful,” but the team was desperate for a shortstop, and New York scouting guru Gene Michael was a strong supporter of Gregorius.
  • Trading Ryan Howard seems less and less likely for the Phillies each coming day, Heyman writes, noting that one scout said that Howard simply looks “lost” at the plate. Heyman also notes that the stacked starting pitching class on next year’s free agent market may be hindering the Phillies’ ability to move Cole Hamels, as teams are content to wait to bid on the likes of David Price, Johnny Cueto, Jordan Zimmermann, Jeff Samardzija and others.
  • The Orioles checked in on Blue Jays catcher Dioner Navarro at some point late in the spring.  Navarro, who has been supplanted as the starting catcher in Toronto by Russell Martin, is hoping to go elsewhere and start.  The diplomatic Navarro spoke with MLBTR’s Zach Links last month about the trade talk surrounding him.
  • One GM who has some interest in Elvis Andrus suggested to Heyman that it’d be hard for the Rangers to trade him now.  While Texas has infield depth, most of it is at the lower rungs of their system.  Meanwhile, they’ll be without Jurickson Profar for a second straight year.
  • Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has one year to go on his contract, but word is that the front office likes him and they mainly want to see progress from their younger players before extending him.  It’s said that Gonzalez won’t be judged on his win-loss record, but so far he’s doing pretty well in that department too.
  • The Red Sox made at least a preliminary offer to Yoenis Cespedes before trading him, which seems to poke a hole in the theory that Boston coaches “hated” the outfielder.

Zach Links contributed to this post.


AL East Notes: Pillar, Orioles, Garcia, Greene

Kevin Pillar was expected to be the Blue Jays‘ fourth outfielder this season and, until Michael Saunders returned from the DL, only a short-term replacement in left field.  After a hot start both offensively and defensively (including an incredible homer-robbing catch last night), however, Sportsnet.ca’s Ben Nicholson-Smith notes that Pillar is making a strong bid for regular playing time even after Saunders is back.  Given Saunders’ knee injury and recent hamstring issue, I’d guess that he could see some DH time to keep him fresh, opening the door for Pillar to continue playing in left.  Switch-hitting center fielder Dalton Pompey has badly struggled against left-handed pitching in his brief career, so Pillar (a right-handed hitter) could also be used in a semi-platoon situation.

Here’s some news from around the AL East…

  • The Orioles are dealing with several roster questions, and MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko notes that the club’s decisions involve both making the team better in 2015 and also looking ahead to who might fill some holes on the 2016 roster.  Baltimore has 10 players scheduled for free agency this winter, leaving plenty of room to evaluate players for bigger roles, like T.J. McFarland or Mike Wright for a possible rotation spot next year.
  • Also from Kubatko’s piece, the Orioles want to keep Rule 5 Draft pick Jason Garcia as a piece for 2016 and beyond, though keeping him on the roster for all of this season could be tricky.  Garcia also has some interest from other teams, as “at least one member of the organization is convinced that the Rays would claim” the young righty if he was put on waivers.
  • Grantland’s Jonah Keri explores why the Orioles are keeping Kevin Gausman in the bullpen when the promising youngster and former fourth overall pick could be more valuable in the rotation.  One theory Keri has heard is that the O’s are giving their five veterans an opportunity to start in order to showcase them for possible trades, which would then open a space for Gausman.  Wei-Yin Chen and Bud Norris are both free agents after the season and the O’s would likely love to rid themselves of Ubaldo Jimenez‘s contract, though it’s worth noting that Gausman has thus far struggled (8.31 ERA and a 1:1 strikeout to walk ratio over four innings) in a relief role.
  • The early returns on the Yankees‘ offseason three-team trade with the Diamondbacks and Tigers aren’t promising for the Bronx Bombers, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes.  Shane Greene, who went to Detroit from New York, has yet to allow a run in 16 innings for the Tigers, while Didi Gregorius has had an all-around rough start to his Yankees career.  While it’s still early, one scout tells Sherman that Greene made some strong adjustments and “was the best pitcher he had seen in March.”  Sherman also notes that the Yankees haven’t historically had much success in trades with Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski.

AL Central Notes: Gose, Marcum, Santana, Rodon

While the season is still very young, the changes to Anthony Gose‘s swing are showing up in his results at the plate, and Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs wonders if his revamped mechanics will lead to a surprising offensive season from the 24-year-old speedster. Upon being traded to the Tigers, Gose and Detroit hitting coach Wally Joyner worked to lower the positioning of his hands prior to the swing, and Gose is also swinging with more of an upward plane. Sullivan also points out that Gose is doing a better job of keeping his weight back, and he provides GIF breakdowns of Gose’s former swing versus his new cut. It had become clear that the old version of Gose wasn’t ever going to hit much, Sullivan writes, and while the reworked swing may be little more than “a new way to fail,” he writes that Gose’s upside with the new mechanics is greater, and the team’s recent success with reclamation project J.D. Martinez lends further reason for optimism.

A few more notes from the AL Central…

  • Shaun Marcum accepted his outright assignment to the Indians‘ Triple-A affiliate earlier today, writes MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian, and the veteran knew at the time of the call-up that he’d likely only be on the roster for one day. “He knew coming in that it was going to be one [game],” manager Terry Francona told Bastian. “After he pitched so well, we were trying to figure out maybe a way to get around [designating him]. I think after talking through it, it’s not a fun thing to do, but I think it’s probably the right thing to do.” Marcum fired five innings of one-run ball Sunday for Cleveland, striking out four hitters against three walks (although two of the free passes were intentional). Those five frames marked his first big league work since 2013, and by accepting an outright to Columbus, Marcum will be able to serve as depth for the Indians again in the future should a need arise.
  • Twins GM Terry Ryan again expressed disappointment when asked by Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press about Ervin Santana‘s suspension. “People are going to test positive because kids are kids and men are men,” said Ryan. “…You shouldn’t make that mistake. … If they take something, they ought to know what it is. That’s all, regardless of where you bought it or if it came from a reputable drug store or nutrition store or wherever. They’ve been educated pretty well about this program, and they know they’re going to get tested. They ought to know what’s going in (their bodies).”
  • The White Sox haven’t announced a starting pitcher for Sunday’s contest yet, but before South Side fans get excited, Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago reports that the nod will not be going to top prospect Carlos Rodon. Manager Robin Ventura has said someone on the active roster will make the start. While Hector Noesi has made just one outing, off-days have allowed the Sox the opportunity to skip him in the rotation, with Jose Quintana taking his spot. Of course, the fact that Noesi struggled badly in his lone start — six walks and four hits in 4 2/3 innings against the Twins — and may be skipped in the rotation suggests that his grasp on a rotation spot isn’t necessarily all that firm. For what it’s worth, Rodon whiffed nine hitters against two walks in five innings of two-run ball in his Triple-A debut this season.

Minor Moves: Jimenez, Tuiasosopo, Schlereth, Jones

Matt Eddy of Baseball America has released the latest installment of his Minor League Transactions roundup, which contains several yet-unreported moves, as usual. All transactions in today’s Minor Moves post are via Eddy, unless otherwise noted…

  • The Phillies have announced that left-hander Cesar Jimenez has cleared outright waivers and accepted an assignment to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Jimenez was outrighted over the weekend to clear a roster spot for right-hander Sean O’Sullivan, but he’ll accept a third outright assignment from the Phillies and hope to get another look in the big league bullpen soon. Jimenez did have the option to reject the outright in search of other employment, but he elected to remain with the organization.

Earlier Moves

  • The White Sox have added utility man Matt Tuiasosopo on a Minor League deal after he was released by the Orioles earlier this month. The 28-year-old infielder/outfielder hasn’t appeared in the Majors since posting a solid .244/.351/.415 batting line in 191 plate appearances with the Tigers. Those numbers are significantly better than Tuiasosopo’s career numbers in the bigs, and he batted a less convincing .240/.357/.379 in 487 PAs between the Triple-A affiliates of the White Sox and Blue Jays in 2014.
  • Daniel Schlereth‘s name is among a slew of farmhands released by the Tigers. Detroit inked Schlereth to a Minors deal back in January (without a camp invite), but he didn’t pitch in a game in Detroit’s system before being released. Schlereth was a useful member of Detroit’s bullpen back in 2010-11 after being included in the Max Scherzer/Ian Kennedy/Curtis Granderson three-team blockbuster, but shoulder injuries have derailed his career.
  • The Orioles have re-signed right-hander Devin Jones on a Minor League pact, which is of particular note due to the fact that Jones was the pitcher traded to the Padres in exchange for righty Brad Brach. The 24-year-old Jones made 25 starts between the Class-A Advanced and Double-A levels of Baltimore’s system in 2013, but he pitched just 37 1/3 innings with the Friars’ Double-A affiliate last year, working to a 7.23 ERA with an unsightly 20-to-12 K/BB ratio.