The Tigers have officially announced that they’ve signed Feliz, according to MLive.com’s Chris Iott. Feliz will join the team later today. The Tigers have optioned righty Jeff Ferrell to the minors, Iott tweets. MLB legend Pedro Martinez reported on MLB Network last night that the Tigers would sign Feliz. Feliz is a client of California Sports Management.
The 27-year-old Feliz posted a 4.58 ERA, 7.3 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 in 19 2/3 innings with the Rangers before they designated him for assignment last week. Feliz then cleared waivers and opted to become a free agent.
It’s no surprise that Feliz signed quickly. He’s still young and has a track record as a closer, having saved 93 games in his career. He also still throws in the mid-90s (although his velocity is lower now than it was several years ago) and was very effective as recently as last season. It’s been awhile since he’s had strong peripherals, however — he struck out 11.3 batters per nine innings as a rookie in 2009, but his strikeout rate has declined significantly since then, and his walk rate has crept up a bit as well as he’s struggled with injuries over the years. If Feliz does return to his early-career form down the stretch, however, the Tigers will be able to take him through the arbitration process and control him for the 2016 season.
Joakim Soria is having a good season as the Tigers’ closer, and Feliz seems unlikely to supplant him in that role. The Tigers’ bullpen ERA of 4.04 ranks sixth worst in the Majors, though, so it seems reasonable that Detroit would want to take a chance on Feliz. The Tigers recently remade their bullpen by dropping Joba Chamberlain and Tom Gorzelanny, giving them plenty of innings for Feliz to cover. This is, however, not the first time the Tigers have depended on a big name from outside the organization. They have a significant recent track record of acquiring closers like Feliz, Joe Nathan, Jim Johnson, Octavio Dotel and Soria to plug a perpetually leaky bullpen, but the quality of those acquisitions has been uneven.