Detroit Tigers Rumors

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

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.

Rosenthal On Cardinals, Miller, Price, Beane

Here are some notes from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal as he looks back on an incredibly busy Deadline Day…

  • Several Cardinals players were unhappy that Allen Craig and Joe Kelly were traded away, which didn’t necessarily surprise St. Louis GM John Mozeliak.  “We’ve had a tight clubhouse for many years, a lot of homegrown players who have been together a long time….When you have a young team, sometimes you don’t see these types of trades happening while you’re competing,” Mozeliak told Rosenthal.  “It caught some people off-guard. But time will heal all wounds.”  Rosenthal wonders if this trade and the recent signing of “notorious irritant” A.J. Pierzynski could’ve been made in order to shake up a clubhouse that had “perhaps grown too comfortable.”
  • The Brewers and Tigers were the other finalists for Andrew Miller‘s services before the Red Sox decided to trade the southpaw to the Orioles.  Boston received inquiries from between 10-12 teams about Miller’s services. Jon Morosi, Rosenthal’s FOX Sports colleague, reported yesterday that Detroit was close to a deal for Miller about 2.5 hours before the trade with Baltimore was finalized.
  • Some pundits have argued that the Rays should’ve gotten more from the Tigers and Mariners in the David Price trade, but Rosenthal is withholding judgement given how difficult the circumstances were for Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman.  The return could’ve been even less had Friedman waited until the offseason to move his ace.
  • In a tweet, Rosenthal notes that the Athletics decided against pursuing a Price trade in part because GM Billy Beane was worried that it would be tough to deal the southpaw this winter.  Price could earn up to $20MM on his 2015 contract in his last year of arbitration eligibility, so as good as the left-hander is, the salary and only the one year of control would limit Price’s trade value.

July Trade Recap: AL Central

As we continue to work through the July deals, division by division (AL East; NL East), let’s turn our attention to the AL Central. First, the deals that went down:

Indians

Royals

Tigers

Twins

White Sox

  • No trades

Synopsis

Trade action in the AL Central was, perhaps, not ultimately surprising yet nonetheless interesting. Detroit pulled off two big swaps, Kansas City largely held firm despite facing only a four-game deficit, Cleveland moved two expiring contracts, and Minnesota sold off a few veterans.

Chicago might have moved some pieces, but in honesty it was far from shocking to see the South Siders stand pat. While shortstop Alexei Ramirez seemed an obvious trade chip at one point, he has cooled off at the plate and the team has a use for him next year. , Alejandro De Aza, or Gordon Beckham might have changed hands, but down years spiked their value. Matt Lindstrom is still rehabbing and John Danks has a very sizable contract (though he drew reported interest), and either could become August trade pieces.

The biggest action, of course, came from a Tigers team with a one-track mind: World Series or bust. GM Dave Dombrowski one-upped the AL West-leading Athletics by adding the game’s best available arm in Price, though he was unable to (jokingly) goad A’s GM Billy Beane into snatching Chris Sale out of the division down the stretch. After taking a look at adding Jon Lester, but being unwilling to part with Smyly to do so, the club instead shipped its young lefty out in perhaps the biggest gambit on a market full of them. Price gives Detroit a fantasy rotation, and could fill the void if Max Scherzer departs via free agency. But the club also gave up a productive center fielder in Jackson without a replacement that would be expected to deliver equivalent production, and also sacrificed future value in Smyly and the young Adames. That came on the heels of moving two good young arms in the Soria deal, making clear that Motown has every hope of landing that elusive title.

That kind of mentality did not hold sway in Kansas City, where GM Dayton Moore saw the deadline pass with mostly minor additions. Frasor is a solid bullpen piece, to be sure, while Hendriks and Kratz add useful depth, but it seems safe to say that the Royals did not opt for an impact acquisition. Though the club has plenty of talent on the farm, trade partners were looking for MLB pieces that Moore was unwilling to give up. Money was also an issue, as ever. One can’t help but feel somewhat underwhelmed, but the fact is that the team likely already pushed itself to the limit when it added James Shields and then paid open-market prices for Jason Vargas and Omar Infante.

Sitting only 2 and a half back of the Royals are the Indians, who also entered the season hoping to contend. But that slippage was enough to draw a sale of two veterans who were destined to hit the open market at season’s end. Masterson had struggled this year anyway, and was still working through a rehab stint, which would have made it difficult for Cleveland to turn down the opportunity to add a quality, fairly advanced prospect in Ramsey. Cabrera, likewise, was converted into future value with Walters, who has seen time at the MLB level this year and offers intriguing pop from the middle infield (or, perhaps, corner outfield). The club was actually looking to make additions to the big league roster, said GM Chris Antonetti, but couldn’t push it across the line.

Finally, the Twins managed to add some young arms to the stable. After picking up Pryor for the just-signed Morales, who did not quite perform to expectations in Minnesota, the club made an opportunistic grab of Milone, who was displaced by a trio of high-profile acquisitions. While Fuld might have been a solid piece during Minnesota’s transition, it is hard to complain with acquiring a cheap and serviceable rotation piece for a guy who was claimed off waivers and spent significant time on the DL. Of course, the Twins could conceivably have been more active, with outfielder Josh Willingham, pitcher Kevin Correia, and the surprising Kurt Suzuki staying in place (and the latter signing a fairly modest extension). But the club did not wish to just give away its veterans, and will instead use Suzuki to break in a young staff in the future while perhaps dangling the other two names in August trade discussions.


Tigers Acquire David Price In 3-Team Deal With Rays, Mariners

The Tigers have officially agreed to acquire David Price from the Rays, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The deal is a three-way trade between the Tigers, Rays, and Mariners.

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Tampa Bay Rays

Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson will go to the Mariners, with Nick Franklin (from Seattle) and Drew Smyly (from Detroit) heading to Tampa in the blockbuster. Minor league shortstop Willy Adames is also going to Tampa from Detroit in the deal, per a tweet from Rosenthal.

The move brings and end to near-ceaseless speculation regarding the now-former Rays lefty, who has been one of the game’s best pitchers in recent seasons. Still only 28, Price is under control for one more season through arbitration, though he will certainly not come cheap.

Playing this year on a $14MM salary, Price will be in line for a big raise next year. Of course, one key element of his value lies in the fact that his new club will have an opportunity to explore an extension. The reason that Price figures to draw a big salary next year is obvious: he has continued to be outstanding. At present, he owns a 3.11 ERA with a remarkable 10.0 K/9 against just 1.2 BB/9 over 170 2/3 innings.

The return for the Rays is not particularly splashy, but delivers obvious value. Smyly, 25, was outstanding last year as a reliever and has since converted into a solid starting option. He carries a 3.77 ERA through 100 1/3 innings, with 7.8 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 and a 36.9% groundball rate. While his strikeout numbers are down since moving to the rotation, he can be controlled through 2018.

The 23-year-old Franklin, meanwhile, seemed without a future in Seattle after the club added Robinson Cano. Though he has spent time at both short and second, many observers believe he is better suited for the keystone going forward. He had a solid 2013 at the MLB level (.225/.303/.382 in 412 plate appearances), and though his numbers were off this year in limited action, Franklin has continued to swing a big stick against Triple-A pitchers.

Then, there is Adames, who could be something of a wild card in the deal. Just 18, he has a promising .269/.346/.428 slash line through 400 plate appearances at the low-A level this year. He entered the year as Baseball America’s 30th-ranked Tigers prospect, but appears to be raising eyebrows around the game.

That brings us to Seattle, which quietly managed to address its center field need without giving up an indispensable piece of the future. In fact, the 27-year-old Jackson will be at least a mid-term piece for Seattle. He is playing on a $6MM salary this year before hitting arbitration for the final time. He currently sports a .270/.330/.397 line that is approximately league average (as it was last year). With solid contributions in the field and on the bases, he is certainly an above-average big league regular.

Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com first reported that Jackson and Smyly were part of the deal (via Twitter). Mike Salk of 710 ESPN tweeted that Jackson would head to Seattle. Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune first reported Franklin’s inclusion (via Twitter).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.