Detroit Tigers Rumors

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

Minor Moves: Hoffman, Colvin, Valaika, Wilson

The latest notable minor league signings, courtesy of Baseball America’s Matt Eddy except where noted.

  • The Red Sox have signed lefty Matt Hoffman, Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish tweets. Hoffman, 26, pitched in the high minors in the Phillies and Twins organizations in 2014, posting a 3.75 ERA with 9.4 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in 48 innings of relief. He’d spent the previous six years in the Tigers organization, working his way up to Triple-A Toledo.
  • The Marlins signed 29-year-old outfielder Tyler Colvin.  In 2014, he posted a .223/.268/.381 slash line with two homers over 149 PA for the Giants.  Colvin elected free agency in October, allowing him to pursue opportunities elsewhere.  Over parts of six seasons at the big league level with the Cubs, Rockies, and Giants, Colvin has a career line of .239/.287/.446.
  • The Cubs re-signed second baseman Chris Valaika. The 29-year-old slashed .231/.282/.339 across 131 plate appearances for the Cubs last season, which is more or less consistent with his career .238/.282/.351 slash line over parts of four seasons. At Triple-A Iowa, Valaika hit .278/.344/.423 in 397 PAs.
  • The Tigers signed Josh Wilson to a minor league pact. The 33-year-old infielder hit .239/.271/.299 in 72 PAs for the Rangers in 2014, though he spent the bulk of the year in Triple-A Round Rock.
  • The Orioles signed left-hander Cesar Cabral. The 25-year-old pitched in four games for the Yankees last year allowing three runs, four hits, three hit batsmen, and a pair of walks in only one inning of work. Cabral spent the rest of the season splitting his time between Double-A and Triple-A posting a 6.28 ERA, 10.2 K/9, and 7.9 BB/9 in 32 relief appearances totalling 38 2/3 innings.

Cardinals Exploring Top-End Starter Acquisition

The Cardinals are exploring several avenues to add a top-end arm to the top of the rotation, Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi of FOX Sports report. The targets include not only free agent Max Scherzer but also trade candidates Cole Hamels of the Phillies and David Price of the Tigers.

Rosenthal and Morosi hasten to add that no deals appear to be close, and note that St. Louis could decide to hold pat with its current slate of starters if the price proves too steep. But the club’s interest reflects some level of concern that the staff will hold up as constituted, per the report.

Scherzer has local roots and could be had for nothing but money, but is expected to command quite a lot of it. The other two hurlers — both southpaws, which the FOX Sports tandem says the Cards would prefer — will obviously require more than cash commitments to acquire.

In the case of Hamels, his no-trade protection would pose no barrier as the Cardinals are not on his no-trade list. But Philadelphia would be looking for a package fronted by a young starter such as Carlos Martinez or Marco Gonzales, while also including a promising young outfielder like Randal Grichuk or Stephen Piscotty. Center fielder Peter Bourjos is also a player that the Phillies have had interest in some time, per Rosenthal and Morosi.

Price, of course, represents an entirely different sort of piece. He is entering his final year of arbitration eligibility and is currently under control of a win-now Detroit club. Per the report, St. Louis might pursue Price with the idea of locking him up for the long-term, based in part on the fact that he makes his offseason home in reasonable proximity (Nashville).

The Price-Scherzer dynamic also impacts things from the Tigers’ perspective, of course, and Rosenthal and Morosi say that the team has not approached Price about an extension. GM Dave Dombrowski has not been shy about dealing pitching talent in recent years, and it could be that moving Price off the books for 2015 would pave the way for a return for Scherzer. Of course, that scenario seems fairly speculative at this stage.


Free Agent Notes: Beachy, Scherzer, Angels, Beckham, Toritani

Right-hander Brandon Beachy is mulling over six offers and hopes to make a decision by Friday of this week, reports SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (Twitter link). Beachy has thrown for seven teams over the past 10 days, according to Cotillo. Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets that the Twins are not one of the teams with an offer out. The 28-year-old Beachy was non-tendered by the Braves in December due to the fact that he underwent his second Tommy John surgery last spring. Any club that signs Beachy to a one-year deal would have the right to control him via arbitration, though a team certainly could offer a second year option or even two guaranteed years as a means of enticing him. In 267 2/3 innings at the Major League level, Beachy has a 3.23 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 (all with the Braves).

Here are some more notes on free agents, including the top name on the market…

  • There’s no timetable on a decision for Max Scherzer, agent Scott Boras tells MLB.com’s Jason Beck. Boras told Beck that Scherzer is an ownership-level decision, and as Beck points out, Boras has worked out deals with Tigers owner Mike Ilitch for both Prince Fielder and Johnny Damon in years past — both of which came late in the offseason. Nonetheless, Detroit appears to have a full rotation, and their long-term payroll outlook is already questionable. I personally have a hard time envisioning a reunion between the two sides.
  • Angels GM Jerry Dipoto told reporters tonight, including Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times (Twitter link), that he isn’t pursuing any free agent pitchers, and that includes both Scherzer and James Shields. The Halos have speculatively been mentioned as fits for both, although as we’ve pointed out here in the past, that seems to be a stretch given their desire to stay beneath the luxury tax threshold.
  • DiGiovanna also notes (Twitter link) that a reunion with Gordon Beckham now looks unlikely for the Angels“We’ve built up quite a bit of infield depth,” Dipoto told reporters. Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register was also on hand, and he tweets that Dipoto said the team is “playing it by ear” regarding Beckham. Fletcher, too, feels that Beckham will sign elsewhere.
  • Japanese shortstop Takashi Toritani was on the Mets‘ radar briefly last month, but the team no longer has any intention of pursuing him, tweets Mike Puma of the New York Post. This report only further support the widespread belief that Wilmer Flores is ticketed for the Amazins’ Opening Day shortstop gig. As for Toritani, he’s been connected to the Blue Jays and Padres as well, though neither seems to have particularly serious interest at this juncture.


Tigers Sign Tom Gorzelanny, Designate Luke Putkonen

2:14pm: Gorzelanny’s deal is for approximately $1MM in guaranteed money, Beck tweets.

10:10am: The Tigers have signed lefty swingman Tom Gorzelanny to a one-year deal, the team announced. To create roster space, right-hander Luke Putkonen was designated for assignment, MLB.com’s Jason Beck tweets.

Gorzelanny threw well last year for the Brewers in limited action. After returning from shoulder surgery, the 32-year-old put up a stellar 0.86 ERA in 21 innings of work. Interestingly, of the 23 games in which he appeared, Milwaukee went on to win only two. That, along with his limited workload, demonstrates that his former club was handling him quite delicately.

Detroit will hope that Gorzelanny can return to being a workhorse long man and spot starter, as he had been previously. Over parts of ten MLB seasons, Gorzelanny owns a 4.27 ERA with 7.2 K/9 against 3.8 BB/9. As one would expect, he has been much stingier against lefties, holding them to a .661 OPS (versus a .780 lifetime mark for opposing right-handed hitters). Likewise, the southpaw has been much better when working out of the pen, where he owns a 2.88 ERA in 171 2/3 career frames.

Meanwhile, the 28-year-old Putkonen missed most of last season after suffering a bone spur in his right elbow, which ultimately require surgery. He had thrown 29 2/3 promising innings at the major league level the year prior, working to a 3.03 ERA with 8.5 K/9 against 2.7 BB/9. Putkonen had been on an upward trajectory after transitioning from a starting role, and his mid-90s heater (when healthy) should draw plenty of interest around the league.


Minor Moves: Boggs, Ashley, Heathcott, Lennerton

Here are the day’s minor moves from around the league…

  • Peter Gammons reports that the Red Sox have signed former Cardinals right-hander Mitchell Boggs (Twitter link). Not surprisingly, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com hears that it’s a minor league deal. Boggs, 30, struggled through 51 minor league innings between the White Sox and Giants in 2014, totaling an alarming 8.59 ERA after a rough 2013 at the big league level. However, Boggs was both durable and effective for the Redbirds from 2010-12, notching a 3.08 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 201 1/3 innings.
  • The Brewers announced that they’ve signed catcher Nevin Ashley to a minor league contract that contains an invitation to Major League Spring Training. The 30-year-old Ashley, a longtime Rays farmhand, spent last season with the Pirates’ Triple-A affiliate. With Indianapolis, he batted .246/.332/.345 in 234 plate appearances — numbers that are commensurate with his lifetime .235/.322/.365 batting line at the Triple-A level. Ashley was twice named the best defensive catcher in the Rays’ system by Baseball America and has gunned down 38 percent of attempted base-stealers in a nine-year minor league career.
  • The Yankees have re-signed former first-round pick Slade Heathcott to a minor league contract, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post (on Twitter). The Yanks non-tendered Heathcott this December on the heels of a season that limited him to just nine games. Injuries have long been a problem for the center fielder, although Heathcott is still heading into just his age-24 season and has a lifetime .268/.346/.404 triple slash in the minors. Somewhat painfully (for Yankees fans, anyhow), Sherman notes that the Yankees had intended to select Mike Trout with the 29th overall pick in 2009, but he went four picks prior to the Angels as a compensation pick for the loss of Mark Teixeira… who had signed with the Yankees.
  • The Tigers have re-signed first baseman Jordan Lennerton, the infielder himself tweeted on New Year’s Eve. MLB.com’s Jason Beck reports that it’s a minor league contract, but it’s unclear whether or not Lennerton will be in big league camp (he was in 2014). Lennerton, 28, had a down season in terms of average and slugging percentage last year at Triple-A, though he still batted a respectable .249/.362/.395 on the whole.

Details On Ryan Howard’s No-Trade Clause

That the Phillies are interested in dealing away first baseman Ryan Howard and some portion of his contract is well-known. Howard, of course, is in the middle of a huge extension that still includes two years and a guaranteed $60MM (including a $10MM buyout of a $23MM club option in 2017). That contract includes a “most favored nation” clause that allows Howard to match the no-trade terms in Cliff Lee‘s deal, under which the player is permitted to designate all but nine clubs for no-trade protection.

ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports the details on Howard’s current list of competitors. The nine teams to which Howard cannot prevent a trade are the Tigers, Royals, Angels, Mariners, Yankees, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, and Red Sox. Crasnick suggests that the teams listed are not particularly strong potential suitors for Howard, as most are either small-payroll clubs and/or lack a present need for a player of Howard’s ilk.

The list seems curious from a strategic perspective, in my view, since it includes only American League clubs. The prevailing sentiment around Howard seems to be that he might have some limited trade value as a designated hitter and left-handed bench bat, but it appears exceedingly unlikely that any National League team would have interest in adding him as a regular first baseman. And payroll is not likely to prevent any teams from pursuing Howard, as Philadelphia is expected to eat most or all of his remaining salary regardless of where he is dealt.

If anything, it could be that the list is simply made up of the American League teams that Howard would most like to play for. His money is earned, after all, and it is unlikely that he would be able to exert enough leverage to convince an acquiring team to provide him with some added benefit in exchange for waiving his no-trade protection. (The notion of demanding a guarantee of his option, for instance, seems far-fetched.) Rather than using the NTC as a means of opening the door to extracting concessions, then, the reported list seems to suggest that Howard is open to being dealt to a place where he is wanted and where he would like to play.

Reading the tea leaves for intent is only so possible and so useful, of course. And the bottom line remains the same: nine of the fifteen A.L. clubs can add Howard without receiving his permission.


James Shields Expected To Get Nine-Figure Deal

James Shields is expected to get at least five years and $100MM, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. Two executives tell Rosenthal that Shields already has a $110MM offer in hand. As Rosenthal notes, however, rumors of an $110MM offer don’t mean that Shields will ultimately sign for that much or more. For example, there were rumors of a $65MM offer for Chase Headley, who ultimately settled for less from the Yankees.

It’s still not clear who will sign Shields. The Marlins and Diamondbacks feel Shields is out of their price range, Rosenthal writes, and the Giants, Padres and Red Sox don’t currently seem highly motivated, either. And the Royals, who have spent on several players already this offseason, don’t appear likely to re-sign Shields. It’s possible that one or more of those teams has more interest than it’s letting on, however. Rosenthal also suggests the Tigers, Yankees and Angels as possibilities, although Shields hasn’t been closely connected to any of those teams.

Mark Polishuk recently polled MLBTR readers about Shields’ likely destination, and the results reflect the uncertainty that seems to exist throughout the industry. Less than 20% of you feel the Giants will sign Shields, followed by the Red Sox, Yankees, and “Other,” which got over 10% of the vote, even with 13 teams in the poll.


Quick Hits: Scherzer, Zobrist, Young

ESPN’s Buster Olney is the latest analyst to complete an analysis of Max Scherzer‘s market. In his team-by-team breakdown, Olney doesn’t uncover any blatantly obvious match. There are a handful of teams who can theoretically afford the Scott Boras client, but none of them feel pressure to ink an ace. An offseason injury to an existing ace could change Scherzer’s market – as it did with Prince Fielder a few years ago. Then, Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez injured himself while training, opening a need for the club. Detroit remains the default guess for Scherzer’s landing spot, but it’s beginning to feel like something unplanned is necessary for the market to move forward.

  • Rays trade candidate Ben Zobrist makes sense for either Chicago club, writes Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago. There are the geographical coincidences – Zobrist is a Eureka, Illinois native and is represented by Chicago-based agent Alan Nero. There is history – Zobrist has played his entire career for Cubs manager Joe Maddon. More to the point, there is a need. Zobrist’s versatility would improve either club, although they both would lean upon his ability to play multiple positions rather than handing him a steady home.
  • Delmon Young‘s physical is scheduled for Wednesday, reports Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. It was reported on December 24 that Young and the Orioles had agreed to a one-year, $2.25MM deal with $750K in incentives. The deal will be officially announced after the physical.

Quick Hits: Williams, Viciedo, Scherzer, Rangers, Mets

It’s been a little over two years since the Marlins and Blue Jays completed the mega-trade that sent $163.75MM in major league veterans north of the border for a bundle of prospect joy. The Marlins were roasted for the decision at the time, but it’s looking wiser by the day, writes Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. Not only did the move clear much needed payroll (since used on Giancarlo Stanton), it also accounts for a lot of the top talent in the organization. In addition to Henderson Alvarez, Adeiny Hechavarria, and Justin Nicolino, the Fish netted seven more players using pieces traced to the original trade with the Jays.

  • Brewers prospect Devin Williams is now represented by the Beverly Hills Sports Council, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Williams was the Brewers second round pick in 2013, and Heyman adds he’s one of Milwaukee’s top 10 prospects. Williams, 19, pitched to a 4.48 ERA with 8.95 K/9 and 2.71 BB/9 in the rookie level Pioneer League.
  • The White Sox are still looking into trading outfielder Dayan Viciedo, writes Scott Merkin of MLB.com. Needs include bullpen and bench depth.
  • The ongoing Max Scherzer saga could greatly affect the Tigers in 2015, writes Jason Beck of MLB.com. Per Beck, the Tigers are likely to let Scherzer walk if another club shows heavy interest. If he continues to float on the market as he is now, there will be increasing pressure to bring him back. Owner Mike Illich is known for his penchant to reward players who have performed well in Detroit.
  • Left field is an obvious hole for the Rangers, writes T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. The internal candidates are Michael Choice, Ryan Rua, and Jake Smolinski, but don’t be surprised if additional depth is added. The club is also expected to add a catcher to compete with Robinson Chirinos.
  • Shortstop continues to be a glaring flaw on the Mets roster, writes Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. Last year, the club was unsuccessful upgrading over Ruben Tejada. This time, Wilmer Flores is the guy on the hot seat, with Tejada still in the picture too. My own take: unless the Mets can pinch Troy Tulowitzki, they’ll enter the season with Flores and Tejada. In the grand scheme of major league shortstops, neither projects to be terrible. Meanwhile, if they wanted Stephen Drew, they’ve had plenty of opportunities to acquire him over the last 14 months.

AL Notes: Tigers, Mariners, East

The Tigers suffered a notable bullpen collapse last season, but they may find one bullpen solution internally, writes Chris Iott of MLive.com. Righty Angel Nesbitt brings upper-90’s gas and improving secondary pitches, according to assistant GM Al Avila. While the 24-year-old Nesbitt is expected to open the season in the minors, he’s currently on the 40-man roster and isn’t the type of prospect whose club control needs to be closely managed. Nesbitt reached Double-A for the first time last season, posting a 2.23 ERA, 10.02 K/9, and 4.18 BB/9. Here are more notes from the American League.

  • Mariners Rule 5 pick David Rollins will likely compete for a lefty relief role this season, Ryan Divish writes for Baseball America. Seattle drafted Rollins in both 2009 and 2010 but didn’t sign him. He posted a 3.81 ERA with 8.9 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 78 innings pitching in the Astros’ Double-A Corpus Christi affiliate last season. “He could be a starter. He could be a bullpen guy,” says GM Jack Zduriencik. “But it’s a pretty good fastball. He’s got a breaking ball. He’s got velocity. He’s a tough kid. We have history with him.”
  • The AL East has spent heavily this offseason, but its teams still have plenty of work to be done, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca writes. The Blue Jays will likely hunt for relief help and possibly also for a second baseman, the Red Sox and Yankees could still be contenders for top starting pitching, the Orioles can use outfield help, and the Rays have historically often added talent late in the offseason.