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Detroit Tigers Rumors
One of the questions facing all teams in free agency is whether to pay for top talent or delve into the second tier for a bargain. Ben Lindbergh of Grantland lists five instances where the generic option could provide more financial value than the name brand asset. In the case of players like Pablo Sandoval, James Shields, and David Robertson, cheaper options probably won’t outperform them, but they could come close at less than half the guaranteed cost. Here’s more from the realm of free agency.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post picked destinations for 10 “hot MLB free agents.” Sherman thinks the Mets could be the surprise winners of the Yasmany Tomas sweepstakes, since the move would energize a depressed fan base. In my opinion, his oddest pick is Max Scherzer to the Brewers. Sherman reasons that Milwaukee has been aggressive under owner Mark Attanasio, but I’m not sure they can support a massive investment in a starting pitcher. Meanwhile, the Tigers could grab two trendy free agents with Sandoval to man third base and Andrew Miller to play the role of relief ace.
- For those who aren’t satisfied with MLBTR’s list of MLB free agents, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy has all the minor league free agents for your perusal. As we learned earlier this week via FanGraphs’ Kiley McDaniel, MiLB free agents represent a potentially under-exploited opportunity to buy value. To a stats analyst, not many names jump of the page. One I’ll be tracking, if only because he’s an interesting story, is Jason Lane.
Prior to being hired by the Cubs, manager Joe Maddon reached out to the Rays with an “olive branch” offer that is believed to be for less guaranteed money than he received from the Cubs, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Heyman writes, however, that even Maddon’s lighter offer was more than the team was willing or able to pay. The Rays offered Maddon an annual salary approaching $3MM, Heyman continues, which would have represented a raise from his previous $1.8MM salary. Of course, that number is still well shy of Maddon’s reported five-year, $25MM deal with the Cubs. Maddon’s agent, Alan Nero, recently appeared on MLB Network Radio with Jim Bowden and said that the Cubs verified the opt-out and received permission from the league before reaching out regarding Maddon’s availability, calling accusations of tampering “insulting.”
Here’s more on the Cubs and the game’s central divisions…
- The Cubs are rich with hitting prospects, but one whose future with the team is a bit cloudy is first baseman Dan Vogelbach writes Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times in a piece for Baseball America. As Wittenmyer notes, Vogelbach is seen by the Cubs (and other clubs) as a first baseman only, and he has Anthony Rizzo to serve as a firm roadblock to the Majors. The Cubs have already fielded calls on his availability in trades, writes Wittenmyer, who notes that Vogelbach, formerly listed at 6’0″ and 250 pounds, dropped 30 pounds and improved a good deal defensively this season. He does note that the improvement took him merely from “unplayable” to “below average.” Vogelbach recovered from a slow start at High-A to hit .285/.373/.461 over his final 115 games.
- Two A.L. Central teams — if not more — could be among the key competitors for the services of veteran outfielder Torii Hunter. Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweeted last night that the Twins are “already in on” Hunter. And Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports on Twitter that there is mutual interest in a reunion with the Tigers.
- Reds starter Mat Latos tells MLB Network Radio (Twitter link) that he has not had any extension discussions with the club. Nevertheless, Latos — who stands to reach free agency after the coming season — said he would be interested in trying to find agreement on a new contract if Cincinnati is willing to talk.
The Nationals have hired former Reds executive Bob Miller to serve as a vice president and assistant general manager, reports Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post (Twitter link). Kilgore first mentioned Miller as a speculative replacement for departed AGM Bryan Minniti a couple of weeks ago. Miller will bring more than 30 years of experience to the Nationals’ front office and has previously worked with GM Mike Rizzo while with the D’Backs. He’s previously specialized in salary arbitration and contractual matters, per Kilgore.
Here are a few more front office notes from around the game…
- The Tigers have added Alan Trammell to their front office as a special assistant to GM Dave Dombrowski, reports Tom Gage of the Detroit News (on Twitter). Trammell, of course, spent three seasons as the team’s manager from 2003-05 and has served as a bench coach for the Cubs and D’Backs. He also spent his entire 20-year playing career with the Tigers as a shortstop, hitting .285/.352/.415, making six All-Star appearances and winning four Gold Gloves and three Silver Sluggers.
- The Dodgers have spoken to well-regarded Athletics assistant GM Farhan Zaidi about a role in their front office, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links). It’s far from a given that Zaidi would leave the A’s and GM Billy Beane to work alongside Andrew Friedman in L.A., Rosenthal notes, though I’d imagine the Dodgers could benefit from flexing their financial muscle, as they did to acquire Friedman in the first place. Zaidi and colleague David Forst are two of the game’s most respected assistant general managers.
- The Giants have outrighted catcher Guillermo Quiroz and righty Brett Bochy. Quiroz, 32, saw just three MLB plate appearances this year and has only once made more than 100 trips to the plate in a single season despite seeing action in ten MLB campaigns. Bochy, son of manager Bruce, got his first taste of the bigs this year, allowing two earned runs in 3 1/3 innings.
- After designating them for assignment recently, the Pirates have outrighted relievers John Axford and Jeanmar Gomez. Axford, 31, will look for a chance to bounce back after posting three seasons and 189 innings of 4.24 ERA work from the pen. Gomez, meanwhile, tossed 62 frames of 3.19 ERA ball after a solid 2013, but his peripherals do not quite back up the results.
- Pittsburgh also outrighted utility infielder Chase d’Arnaud. The 27-year-old has fairly minimal MLB action, but owns a .251/.316/.370 line over 1,426 Triple-A plate appearances over parts of four seasons. He has spent his entire career in the Pirates organization.
- The Yankees have outrighted outfielder Antoan Richardson after he racked up five stolen bases over the course of just 13 games (and 17 plate appearances) in New York. Richardson, 31, has been a consistent high-OBP and speed threat in the upper minors, but has yet to receive a real opportunity at the big league level.
- Also outrighted was utilitman Jake Elmore of the Reds. Cincinnati claimed Elmore from the Athletics in early August. He ultimately saw just 12 plate appearances with the Reds, and is still looking for his first consistent MLB role at age 27.
- Previously outrighted players Adam Moore of the Padres, Scott Elbert of the Dodgers, Matt McBride of the Rockies, and Evan Reed and Don Kelly of the Tigers have all elected free agency.
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Here are today’s minor moves from around the league, via Baseball America’s Matt Eddy on Twitter.
- The Mets have released Juan Urbina, reports Baseball America’s Matt Eddy (via Twitter). In five years with the Mets, the 21-year-old left-handed pitcher failed to pass Low-A ball. While he generally posted strong strikeout rates in limited work, he walked nearly the same number of hitters. The once-prospect signed for $1.2MM in 2009 and is the son of former big leaguer Ugueth Urbina.
- The Phillies have signed outfielders Brian Bogusevic and Darin Mastroianni to minor league deals. Bogusevic last appeared in the big leagues in 2013 and spent last season hitting .260/.349/.411 in 311 plate appearances for Triple-A New Orleans in the Marlins system. Mastroianni appeared briefly for the Twins and Blue Jays in 2014 but spent most of the season with Triple-A Buffalo, hitting .267/.349/.369 in 393 plate appearances.
- The Blue Jays have re-signed righty Bobby Korecky. The 35-year-old had a strong season in the Buffalo bullpen, posting a 1.97 ERA with 8.4 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 64 innings.
- The Athletics have signed righty Kevin Whelan, who briefly appeared with the Tigers in 2014 and a 2.70 ERA with 11.2 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9 in 43 1/3 innings with Triple-A Toledo.
- The Royals have signed 24-year-old corner infielder Balbino Fuenmayor, who hit .347/.383/.610 in 413 plate appearances with Quebec in the Canadian-American Association, earning BA’s Indy League Player Of The Year award. The Blue Jays released Fuenmayor in 2013.
- Cubs outfielder Ryan Kalish, White Sox outfielder Michael Taylor and Phillies shortstop Andres Blanco have all elected free agency. All three players were recently outrighted.
- The Tigers have re-signed third baseman Mike Hessman. The 36-year-old Hessman has gotten few chances in the big leagues, but he’s still a feared slugger in the International League, where he hit 28 home runs and batted .248/.330/.500 in 2014. The veteran has 417 career minor league home runs, including 307 at the Triple-A level.
The Cubs‘ decision to replace Rick Renteria with Joe Maddon seems “a little dirty,” but the baseball world will go on, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal writes. The Rays believe the Cubs tampered with Maddon while they had him under contract, and others in the game aren’t happy that Maddon’s situation led to Renteria’s firing. Rosenthal notes that if MLB can prove the Cubs tampered, the Rays could demand a promising young player in compensation, maybe even a player as talented as Javier Baez or Addison Russell. Here’s more from the Central divisions.
- GM Dave Dombrowski says the Tigers would have retained outfielder Andy Dirks in 2015 if they knew he would be healthy, Tom Gage of the Detroit News tweets. Dirks platooned with Matt Tuiasosopo in left field for the Tigers in 2013, but he missed the entire 2014 season with back and hamstring issues, and the Tigers lost him on waivers to the Blue Jays today.
- Indians GM Chris Antonetti doesn’t believe Jason Giambi will be a good fit for the team’s roster next season, Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer tweets. Giambi will be 44 in January, and he hit .133/.257/.267 in limited duty in 2014, so it’s no surprise that the Indians might move on. Terry Francona has called Giambi a “manager-in-waiting,” so Giambi’s next move could involve coaching.
- The Indians have made a variety of front office moves, Hoynes tweets. Ross Atkins will be Cleveland’s new vice president in charge of player personnel, with Carter Hawkins becoming director of player development and Paul Gillispie the director of pro scouting.
The Tigers announced that they have extended one-year, $15.3MM qualifying offer to impending free agents Max Scherzer and Victor Martinez. Additionally, the team announced that utility man Don Kelly and right-hander Evan Reed have been outrighted off the 40-man roster. The Tigers also announced that they have selected the contract of outfielder Wynton Bernard, adding him to the 40-man roster.
That Scherzer and Martinez — two of the top 10 free agents in the Majors — received qualifying offers comes as little surprise. Each should be in high demand this offseason, and by extending the QO, the Tigers assure themselves of receiving a compensatory draft pick at the end of the first round for each player, should he sign elsewhere as a free agent.
The 34-year-old Kelly has been with the Tigers in a utility capacity since 2009 and has posted a .234/.297/.340 in 1157 plate appearances with Detroit in that time. Kelly has seen time at every position on the diamond, including catcher and pitcher, in his career, although his lone experience at shortstop came with the Pirates in 2007 — his only Major League stint that came in a uniform other than that of the Detroit Tigers.
Reed, 28, pitched to a 4.18 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 32 1/3 innings for the Tigers this season, and he posted similar numbers in 24 1/3 inning sample size a year prior. That Reed would clear waivers is a mild surprise, given his 96 mph average fastball velocity and fairly solid 3.78 FIP, 3.89 xFIP and 3.51 SIERA marks in addition to his 4.20 ERA. He can become a minor league free agent now by refusing his outright assignment.
The Orioles have claimed left-handed pitcher Pat McCoy off waivers from Detroit, according to a press release from the Tigers.
McCoy, who turned 26 in August, made his big league debut for the Tigers this season, notching a 3.86 ERA in 14 innings. However, his ERA is a bit misleading, as the southpaw walked 13 batters against 11 strikeouts in that time and also allowed an alarming 21 hits.
Formerly a 10th-round pick of the Nationals, McCoy signed a minor league deal with Detroit last offseason and enjoyed a nice campaign in the minors before getting his first call to the bigs. Splitting the season between Double-A and Triple-A, McCoy pitched to a 3.00 ERA with 6.8 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in 45 innings of work.
The Blue Jays have claimed outfielder Andy Dirks off waivers, the Tigers announced via press release.
Dirks, 28, was expected to serve as Detroit’s primary left fielder this season in a platoon with Rajai Davis, but a back injury required surgery and wound up costing him the entire year. Dirks has a solid career slash line of .276/.332/.413, and he grades out as an excellent defender in left field, having compiled 16 Defensive Runs Saved and an UZR/150 mark of +5.1 in 1569 innings in left field.
With Melky Cabrera and Colby Rasmus both hitting the open market, Dirks makes for a very nice add to the team’s outfield depth if he can return to health in 2015 and beyond. He’s projected to earn $1.63MM in his first time through arbitration this offseason, per MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz, and he can be controlled through 2017 via the arb process.
Soria, 30, was acquired from the Rangers at the trade deadline for the steep price of right-handers Corey Knebel and Jake Thompson, but the results didn’t pan out for Detroit. Soria totaled just 11 innings with the Tigers and allowed seven runs (six earned), in part due to an oblique strain that cost him a month of action. He didn’t fare any better in the post season, as he was charged with five runs in one inning (two appearances).
Despite the struggles following the trade, Soria was an exceptional bullpen piece with the Rangers this year, pitching to a 2.70 ERA with 11.3 K/9 and 1.1 BB/9 in 33 1/3 innings. His cumulative stat line translated to a 3.80 ERA with a 48-to-6 K/BB ratio in 44 1/3 innings during the regular season.
The Tigers are in desperate need of solidifying their bullpen and will hope that a healthy Soria can assist in accomplishing that goal next season.