Detroit Tigers Rumors

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

Injury Notes: Verlander, Machado, Rios, Anderson

Let’s take a look at a few injury situations from around the game that could have hot stove implications:

  • Tigers starter Justin Verlander lasted only one rough inning today, leaving with right shoulder soreness. The veteran will undergo an MRI tomorrow, reports Chris Iott of MLive.com (Twitter links). “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit nervous,” said Verlander. “I’ve never been through this before.” Indeed, the 31-year-old righty has never been on the disabled list in his excellent career. But there have been signs of trouble this season, as Verlander has worked to an uncharacteristic 4.57 ERA and seen his strikeout numbers plummet (6.6 K/9). Eno Sarris of Fangraphs wrote recently that some indicators suggested Verlander may have been playing hurt, and the hurler confirmed today that the issue “has been lingering for a while,” as John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press reports on Twitter. In the immediate term, Verlander’s situation — combined with a DL stint for Anibal Sanchez — creates significant rotation difficulties for the club, which just dropped out of first in the AL Central. Detroit will call up youngsters Robbie Ray and Buck Farmer (who has just two Double-A appearances to his name) to take upcoming starts, but another addition cannot be ruled out at this point. In the long run, of course, questions continue to pile up regarding the outlook for the Tigers’ remaining $140MM commitment to a player who was once considered by many to be the game’s best pitcher.
  • Orioles third baseman Manny Machado also left early today after twisting his right knee awkwardly at the plate. A severe injury seemed possible based on replays, but the team has expressed hope that it dodged a bullet after initial X-rays did not reveal any ligament damage, as MLB.com’s Britt Ghiroli tweets. But an MRI will be needed for a full assessment, and Machado will have a scan tomorrow morning, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports on Twitter. Machado missed the early portion of the season due to surgery on his left knee. With Baltimore still fending off competitors from atop the AL East, any significant absence for Machado would be a big blow. Though the team could scan the trade market (with all the usual August complications) for a replacement, if it became necessary, the O’s would perhaps be more likely to turn to in-house options such as Ryan Flaherty and Jimmy Paredes.
  • Outfielder Alex Rios of the Rangers received positive news from an MRI on his left ankle, which revealed only a sprain, as Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest reports on Twitter. Rios, who has cleared waivers, may be ready to return to action as soon as tomorrow. He could still hold appeal for clubs looking to add a right-handed-hitting, corner outfield bat to the mix, though one possible suitor likely dissipated today when the Royals acquired Josh Willingham.
  • Rockies starter Brett Anderson will undergo surgery to repair a disc in his lower back, reports Thomas Harding of MLB.com. The procedure is expected to come with a five-month recovery period, which would set Anderson on track for Spring Training but will certainly make it difficult for Colorado to justify exercising its $12MM club option over the lefty. While Anderson was strong in limited action this year, and is still just 26 years old, he has not stayed healthy enough to throw over 100 innings since 2010.

East Links: Hefner, Roberts, Yankees, Phillies

Mets right-hander Jeremy Hefner received awful news after experiencing discomfort in his third rehab outing last week. Via Adam Rubin of ESPN New York (Twitter link), Hefner has a fracture in his elbow and will have to undergo his second Tommy John operation of the past year. The 28-year-old has spent the past year recovering from TJ and will now likely miss most, if not all of the 2015 campaign as well. MLBTR wishes Hefner the best of luck and a full recovery in the next round of rehab.

Here are some more links from baseball’s Eastern divisions…

  • Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles aren’t interested in bringing back longtime second baseman Brian Roberts, who was recently released by the Yankees (Twitter link).
  • Joel Sherman of the New York Post examines the Yankees‘ midseason rentals — Stephen Drew, Chase Headley and Brandon McCarthy — and wonders if any of the three will be back with the team in 2015 (and beyond). As Sherman notes, the final months of the season will serve as an audition for each player, and each could have a logical spot on the roster. Drew could replace the retiring Derek Jeter, Headley could handle third base when Alex Rodriguez DHs, and McCarthy can serve as valuable rotation depth given the uncertainty surrounding New York’s internal options.
  • Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. tells Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com that he’s looking for rotation depth following the trade of Roberto Hernandez and the injury to Cliff Lee. That desire led to the claim of Jerome Williams, but it sounds as if the Phils could be on the lookout for other cheap additions that could help them beyond the 2014 season. Salisbury notes that 2014 first-round pick Aaron Nola is not under consideration for a jump to the Majors.
  • Within that same piece, Salisbury also speculates that the Tigers and Phillies could reboot their previous trade talks for Jonathan Papelbon due to Joe Nathan‘s recent struggles and Joakim Soria‘s injury (he is on the DL with an oblique strain). Amaro tells Salisbury that the two sides haven’t talked trade recently, but he does acknowledge that he spoke with the Tigers “particularly about the bullpen.” Antonio Bastardo was thought to be a Tigers target at one point, but as Salisbury notes, Bastardo was placed on waivers earlier this month. While no reports surfaced of him being claimed, it’s highly unlikely that he would clear, given that he had a mere $600K or so of his 2014 salary remaining at the time he was placed on waivers.
  • One more note from Salisbury, as he reports that Amaro said it’s “possible” that top prospect Maikel Franco will receive a September call-up. An earlier promotion is unlikely for Franco, per Amaro, but there’s little doubt that he’s impressed as of late. While Franco struggled with the jump to Triple-A to open the season, he’s mashed since July 1, hitting .338/.360/.564 in 139 plate appearances.

Royals, Tigers Interested In Daniel Nava

Though Daniel Nava has yet to be placed on waivers, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, he’s already begun to draw trade interest from the Royals and Tigers as the AL Central frontrunners each search for a bat to add to their lineup (Twitter link).

The 31-year-old Nava is hitting just .248/.327/.310 this season, but he carries a significant platoon split and would likely see his overall numbers improve were he to face only right-handed pitching. Nava is a switch-hitter by trade, but his lifetime .207/.287/.300 batting line as a right-handed hitter is unimpressive, to say the least. However, he boasts a .289/.384/.422 triple-slash in his career as a left-handed hitter and is slashing .276/.360/.346 from that side of the dish in 2014. Beyond that, Defensive Runs Saved is a fan of his career work at both outfield corners. Ultimate Zone Rating doesn’t like his glove in left field but has been positive regarding his work as a right fielder.

The Royals could look at Nava as a upgrade (both offensively and defensively) over veteran Raul Ibanez, who has batted a paltry .193/.233/.386 in 60 plate appearances since returning to the team. While Nava’s struggles from the right side make it seem counterintuitive to suggest that he could form a platoon with Nori Aoki, Kansas City could make such an alignment work. Nava could receive the bulk of playing time against right-handed pitching because Aoki, despite being a lefty swinger, has much better career numbers versus southpaws. He’s hit lefties at a .337/.410/.404 clip in 2014 and a .311/.363/.396 clip since jumping from Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball to the Major Leagues.

Detroit’s interest in Nava isn’t entirely surprising, given the fact that Andy Dirks sustained a setback in his rehab from back surgery last week (as reported by MLB.com’s Jason Beck). Dirks reportedly strained his left hamstring, and the Tigers aren’t sure when exactly he will be able to get back into games. As such, Nava presents a solid option against right-handed hitters with solid corner outfield defense — a skill-set not dissimilar to that of Dirks. He could pick up some of Torii Hunter‘s at-bats against right-handed pitching, as the veteran outfielder has seen his numbers against right-handers decline (along with his once highly regarded defense). Hunter is hitting just .257 with a .294 OBP against righties this year, though his .438 slugging percentage and 181 isolated power mark against them are both plenty respectable.

As it stands, the Royals would have first crack at Nava on waivers, as they’re a half-game behind the Tigers in what has become a surprisingly tight AL Central race. Of course, there’s no guarantee that Nava would make it to either club, as he would first need to go unclaimed by the Rangers, Astros, Red Sox, Twins, White Sox, Rays, Indians, Yankees, Blue Jays and Mariners — in that order — to reach either AL Central contender. Nava will be arbitration eligible for just the first time this winter and is under control through the 2017 season, so it’s certainly possible that a different AL club would have interest in claiming him. The Indians, for example, who are just five and a half games back in the division, could claim Nava simply to block their rivals from acquiring him. There’d be little risk for Cleveland, given Nava’s modest $557K salary in 2014.



Tigers Release Casey Crosby

The Tigers announced today that they have selected the contract of right-hander Kevin Whelan and released former top prospect Casey Crosby in order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster.

The 25-year-old Crosby has been on the shelf since mid-May, which is hardly a new sensation for the left-hander. Both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus considered the southpaw to be among the game’s Top 50 prospects following a dominant 2009 campaign at Class A (2.41 ERA, 117 strikeouts in 104 2/3 innings), but injuries and command problems have caused his prospect star to dim considerably since that time.

Crosby had Tommy John surgery in 2008, has battled shoulder problems in recent seasons and also underwent elbow surgery to remove loose bodies last August. In total he’s appeared in just 74 minor league games over the past five seasons. Baseball America at various times noted that Crosby had the best fastball and best curveball in the Tigers’ system, and the publication still ranked him as Detroit’s No. 17 prospect after the 2013 campaign. He shifted the bullpen this year, but his injuries and inability to command the strike zone have halted a once-promising career for Crosby, who will now look to latch on with another organization.

The 30-year-old Whelan has had a dominant season with Triple-A Toledo this season, notching a 1.85 ERA with 11.1 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 in 39 innings. He’s yet to allow a homer and has surrendered just 26 hits in those 39 frames. If and when he takes the hill for the Tigers, it’ll be his first big league action since a brief 2011 stint with the Yankees.


Tigers Notes: Whelan, Bullpen, Dombrowski

Here’s the latest from the Motor City…

  • The Tigers will promote relievers Kevin Whelan, Justin Miller and Ian Krol from Triple-A, John Wagner of the Toledo Blade reports (all Twitter links), though all three might not be activated in time for tonight’s game against the Pirates.  In Whelan’s case, corresponding moves will need to be made to create room for the right-hander on both the 25-man and 40-man rosters.
  • The Tigers’ failure to not promote at least one reliever prior to Sunday’s 19-inning marathon loss to Toronto could have consequences for the rest of the week, James Schmehl of Mlive.comAnibal Sanchez and Joakim Soria had gone on the DL and Joe Nathan was considered unavailable after pitching in two straight games (though he threw an inning anyway), leaving the Tigers so short-handed that Rick Porcello has to come out of the bullpen.  Porcello’s usage might force some rotation juggling in the next few days, which Schmehl notes will further complicate depth issues for a Tigers club in the midst of playing 55 games in 55 days.
  • Speaking to reporters (including MLB.com’s Jason Beck) prior to Sunday’s game, Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski said that with regards to the Sanchez and Soria injuries, the club is “planning on filling the spots internally” rather than looking to acquire pitching help.

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Rosenthal’s Latest: Tigers, Lester, Front Offices

The Tigers have “kicked around” the idea of trading for a hitter to bolster the back end of their lineup, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports in his latest Full Count video.  Finding a quality bat will be more difficult in the August waiver period, of course, and there also isn’t any position that Detroit would clearly be looking to upgrade.  Rosenthal says the team is “pretty much set in the outfield,” though I’d argue that adding another outfielder to complement or even replace J.D. Martinez or Rajai Davis (both of whom were originally acquired to be part-timers) would help the Tigers down the stretch.

Here’s some more from Rosenthal’s video and a separate piece that examines which managers and general managers could be on the hot seat…

  • Some of Jon Lester‘s former teammates believe the southpaw will sign with the Cubs this offseason.  Lester, of course, has ties to Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, and the Cubs’ recent waiver claim of Cole Hamels indicates that the team is prepared to spend big money on a top-tier starting pitcher.
  • Had the Padres hired Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler, the return of Kevin Towers to the San Diego organization “would’ve been almost automatic.”  (The two worked together in New York.)  Between Tony La Russa’s hiring in Arizona and the firing of Josh Byrnes in San Diego, rumors have swirled for weeks that Towers would find himself back with the Friars given his friendship with Padres president/CEO Mike Dee.  As Rosenthal notes, Towers could still return under new GM A.J. Preller, though rival executives are split as to whether Towers’ presence would be a positive or a negative for Preller as a first-time general manager.
  • Bud Black “would be out of work for about five minutes” if Preller decided to make a managerial change.  Mike Dee recently told Rosenthal that Preller would decide on Black’s future with the Padres, though the fact that Black’s removal was “never seriously considered” by upper management would seem to bode well for the long-time skipper.
  • While Reds GM Walt Jocketty is in the final year of his contract, “there is no indication that Jocketty wants to leave, or that owner Bob Castellini wants him out.”  Rosenthal speculates that a reunion between Jocketty and La Russa in Arizona could be a possibility, though Jocketty might prefer to stay with the contending Reds rather than face a rebuilding job with the D’Backs.
  • Ruben Amaro’s future as the Phillies‘ GM has been in question given the team’s struggles, which could also mean that manager Ryne Sandberg’s continued employment could also be up in the air.  The Hall-of-Famer has “at times looks overmatched, struggling in his communications with veterans and with his in-game management,” Rosenthal writes, though he points out that Sandberg hasn’t been given much to work with on the roster.  Sandberg is under contract through the end of the 2016 season.
  • Could Jeff Luhnow’s job actually be in jeopardy?  Rosenthal isn’t sure, though he notes that “internal tension seems unavoidable” in Houston.  The Astros have seen little improvement on the field this season and Luhnow’s front office was widely criticized for its handling of the Brady Aiken negotiations.
  • Mike Maddux’s Rangers contract is up at the end of the season, and while extension talks probably won’t take place until then, both Maddux and the team seem eager to see the long-time pitching coach remain in Texas.

Quick Hits: Rockies, Bloomquist, Castillo, Colabello

The Rockies are in the midst of an awful 45-70 season, but a strong offseason could help turn them around, Paul Swydan of FanGraphs writes. Swydan argues that the Rockies should let Michael Cuddyer, Jorge De La Rosa and Brett Anderson depart via free agency, then spend the savings on Russell Martin and on a couple of ground-ball-throwing, mid-grade free agent pitchers, like Justin Masterson and Francisco Liriano. Non-tendering Jhoulys Chacin and dealing for Jon Niese would also help improve the Rockies’ rotation. Here’s more from around the big leagues.

  • Mariners utilityman Willie Bloomquist will miss the remainder of the season with a microfracture in his right knee, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times tweets. Bloomquist is making $2.8MM in the first year of a two-year deal, and he hit .278/.297/.346 in 136 plate appearances this season.
  • Austin Jackson‘s departure in the David Price deal could make the Tigers especially likely to sign Cuban 2B/OF Rusney Castillo, MLB.com’s Jason Beck tweets. The addition of Price brought them another top-flight starting pitcher but created an opportunity to improve in their outfield. Castillo has also been connected to a huge number of other teams, holding private workouts for many of them.
  • Chris Colabello may be near the end of the line with the Twins, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press writes. The Twins recently optioned Colabello to Triple-A Rochester, and after a .229/.282/.380 performance in 220 plate appearances with them this season, he could soon be designated for assignment. Colabello is a great story — he spent seven seasons playing independent baseball before signing with the Twins as a 28-year-old and making it to the big leagues at 29. But as a 1B/OF/DH type who hasn’t hit much, he’s struggled to get established in the big leagues.
  • GM Sandy Alderson says the Mets‘ recent moves, including designating Chris Young for assignment and replacing him by promoting Matt den Dekker, do not suggest that his team is giving up on the 2014 season, Marc Carig of Newsday reports. The Mets will find playing time for den Dekker and more of it for Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Wilmer Flores. “I’ve tried to be honest with myself about that,” says Alderson. “And I have not concluded that this is a step back from competition.” The Mets remain on the outer fringes of the playoff race, seven games back of the last Wild Card spot. Of course, given that Young, for example, was hitting .205/.283/.346 before he was designated, it’s not likely that someone like den Dekker is even a downgrade, and Niewenhuis and Flores are supplanting underperforming players (Eric Young Jr. and Ruben Tejada) as well.

Tigers To Sign Jim Johnson

The Tigers have agreed to a minor league deal with righty Jim Johnson, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. The longtime Orioles closer lost his 9th-inning gig not long after joining the Athletics this year, and was ultimately released by Oakland.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Baltimore Orioles

It’s obviously a low-risk move for Detroit, which has dedicated plenty of attention to shoring up the pen. Johnson can audition and provide depth in the minors, while of course also providing that always elusive late-inning experience if the need arises down the stretch.

Johnson has never been an outright dominant reliever in the sense of maintaining high strikeout rates or wielding unhittable stuff, but he certainly has a history of effectiveness. Still only 31, Johnson racked up three straight seasons of sub-3.00 ERA ball in Baltimore over 2011-13 before hitting a wall with the A’s. Though he continued to induce tons of ground balls with his heavy sinker, Johnson became highly susceptible to the long ball (17.2% HR/FB rate) and suddenly lost his usually solid control (5.13 BB/9).

Johnson had recently worked out for the Orioles, which seemed a natural fit — except for the fact that the big league bullpen really did not have an opening. Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweeted last night that Johnson had chosen to sign elsewhere. After taking on his $10MM salary by trade before the year, the A’s will still be responsible for the balance, less only the league minimum rate (for whatever stretch Johnson ends up spending in Detroit).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Trade Deadline Links: Price Trade, Red Sox, Phillies

It’s been a quiet night for transactions and rumors, so let’s take a look at some audio looking back at the deadline:

  • Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski joined ESPN.com’s Buster Olney on his podcast (audio link) to discuss the David Price trade. Dombrowski’s account is essential listening, but here are some highlights: Though Dombrowski was thinking initially about adding to the pen, internal recommendations led him to reach out to his Rays counterpart, Andrew Friedman, before the All-Star game. The sides chatted, but did not discuss a deal intensively until the evening before the deadline. Tampa had previously raised the name of young shortstop Willy Adames, was interested in some of the Mariners players, and liked Drew Smyly, but the precise package was only put together with the deadline closing in. In Dombrowski’s mind, the deal went from a “slight chance” overnight to happening quickly early in the afternoon. (Interestingly, the Detroit Free-Press tweeted that Dombrowski was notably absent from his usual seat just before the game; as it turns out, Dombrowski tells Olney that the key phone conversations were in fact taking place at that time.)
  • Dombrowski had high praise for Friedman, who he described as direct and thorough. As for the idea that the haul was light for Price, Dombrowski explained that he had faced similar reactions after the Doug Fister deal, and feels that often such reactions come from a lack of information. In particular, he expressed that other clubs may not have a full read on Adames, who he calls a potential future All-Star.
  • In his podcast today (audio link), Jonah Keri of Grantland spoke with Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports about the trade deadline and what it means the rest of the way. Rosenthal wonders whether the Red Sox have created a sort of new model for sellers by pursuing big league pieces instead of unproven youngsters. Of course, Boston also created a much-discussed “model” for free-agent spending before the club’s 2013 World Series run, when it added a series of mid-tier veterans who seemed to gel together in Fenway. Keri also chats with Dan Okrent, discussing his excellent (and highly-recommended) book, Nine Innings, which delivers an incredible portrait of the workings of a ballclub from the front office to the field.
  • Former MLB GM Jim Duquette shared his own thoughts on the deadline — in particular, regarding the Phillies – on The Jayson Stark Show of 97.5 The Fanatic (audio link). Duquette said he thought the club “missed an opportunity” by standing pat. He also said it was surprising to hear GM Ruben Amaro Jr. say that his peers were not sufficiently aggressive in pursuing Philadelphia’s players, with Stark adding that other general managers have indicated to him that they were less than pleased with the commentary.

Quick Hits: Hahn, Royals, Luhnow, Cotts

The White Sox didn’t make any noise on deadline day but things could’ve been much different had a proposed three-team trade been finalized, GM Rick Hahn told reporters (including ESPN Chicago’s Sahadev Sharma).  The deal “would’ve wound up netting us such a [future] piece, a guy who’d been a target for a while,” Hahn said, though talks fizzled about two hours before the 3pm CT deadline.  While no trades were made, Hahn felt some progress was made in negotiations and “hopefully laid the groundwork for some future deals,” while also noting that the ChiSox will explore the August waiver wire for any possible moves.

Here are some items from around baseball as we wrap up an extremely busy week here at MLB Trade Rumors…

  • The Royals also didn’t make any moves yesterday as the team was seemingly hamstrung by an unwillingness to either trade its young players or (perhaps more pressingly) add payroll, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star writes.
  • The Astros were willing to discuss trading their young starters and indeed sent Jarred Cosart to Miami.  Beyond that, the club couldn’t find any satisfactory offers for Collin McHugh or Dallas Keuchel, GM Jeff Luhnow told reporters, including The Houston Chronicle’s Evan Drellich and MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart. “Probably Keuchel was the one that we received the most inquiries on…we weren’t willing to move Keuchel,” Luhnow said.  It seemed as if Luhnow cared for the McHugh offers even less, saying other teams apparently “felt like just because we picked him up off of waivers we might get rid of him for cheap.”
  • The Rangers have spoken with left-hander Neal Cotts about a new contract for next season, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports.  Cotts earned $2.2MM in 2014, his final arbitration-eligible year, and he’ll be a free agent this winter.  Grant believes this new contract could “likely be a club-friendly deal.”  Given that Cotts is 34 and has a checkered injury history, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Cotts look for security over a higher dollar figure.
  • Also from Grant’s piece, he notes that while the Rangers are suffering through a disastrous season, they could quickly rebound next year.
  • Looking at teams who did and didn’t make key moves, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports lists the 15 winners and eight losers of the trade deadline period.
  • Big TV contracts are seen as huge boosts to team revenues, yet as Fangraphs’ Wendy Thurm observes, broadcaster disputes have left Padres, Astros and Dodgers fans unable to watch their teams play on local TV while the Nationals and Orioles seem poised for a major legal battle over MASN’s broadcasting fees.
  • The Tigers‘ acquisition of David Price drew all the headlines yesterday, but the team’s need for a left-handed reliever went unaddressed at the deadline, MLB.com’s Jason Beck points out.