9:50am: GM Dave Dombrowski denied that any move to add a reliever (or any other external player) should be expected. “I don’t know where that would even come from,” said Dombrowski, regarding this morning’s rumor (via Iott). Beck adds another quote from Dombrowski: “I would be really surprised if that happens.”
9:18am: Manager Brad Ausmus told reporters, including Iott (Twitter link), that he’d be “shocked” if the Tigers’ final roster spot was filled by someone from outside the organization. As MLB.com’s Jason Beck tweets, that doesn’t mean that the team won’t acquire someone from outside the organization, but rather that a potential new addition may not break camp with the team. That would seemingly indicate a minor trade or signing someone on a Minor League deal.
8:17am: The Tigers are close to acquiring an unknown relief pitcher, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Bullpen depth has been a question mark for the Tigers all offseason, and it was announced yesterday that righty Bruce Rondon will begin the season on the DL.
As things currently stand, Joe Nathan is slated to pitch the ninth inning for Detroit despite a poor 2014 season and sub-par results this spring. He’ll be supported by setup man Joakim Soria in the eighth inning. Al Alburquerque, Joba Chamberlain, Tom Gorzelanny and Ian Krol also seem likely to join the mix, while Angel Nesbitt has emerged as a bullpen candidate as well. Earlier today, the team optioned bullpen candidates Blaine Hardy and Kyle Ryan to Triple-A Toledo, via MLive.com’s Chris Iott (Twitter link).
There are any number of viable relief candidates available in trades, and the free agent market also has a few possibilities. Rafael Soriano is the most notable name among free agents, but righties Dustin McGowan, Jose Valverde, Jose Veras, Juan Carlos Oviedo and Matt Lindstrom are all available at the moment as well.
While a theoretical trade wouldn’t have to be for a player that is currently out of Minor League options, such a player could be easier to acquire than someone whose roster spot is more set in stone. MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes recently compiled a list of all out-of-options players throughout the league, and a look at that list may reveal some potential candidates. Jean Machi and George Kontos are both on the bubble in San Francisco, for example, while Pittsburgh’s Stolmy Pimentel has been speculatively mentioned as someone who could be squeezed out of a roster spot as well.