The Tigers are known to be casting a wide net in their search for relievers, and ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweets that their targets include Ryan Madson, Shawn Kelley and Tommy Hunter in addition to previously reported links to Darren O’Day and Joakim Soria. As Crasnick further notes, Hunter was a teammate of GM Al Avila’s son (and former Detroit backstop) Alex Avila in college, giving Hunter a bit of an in with the organization. The Tigers would like to add a pair of bullpen arms, and Avila said yesterday that he’s not concerned with pitcher handedness but instead just focused on general upgrades (via the Detroit Free Press’ Anthony Fenech, on Twitter).
A few more notes on the developing free-agent and trade markets for bullpen upgrades…
- The Mariners already made a substantial boost to their bullpen today by adding Joaquin Benoit in a trade with the Padres, but GM Jerry Dipoto isn’t content with the group just yet. Via Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune (Twitter link), Dipoto says the Mariners aren’t done bolstering their bullpen. For the time being, Dipoto isn’t committing to a role for Benoit (as noted by Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times, also on Twitter), perhaps indicating that the Mariners are open to adding relief arms of a higher caliber (though that’s just my own speculation).
- Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports that the Astros and Rays had some discussions about Jake McGee and Brad Boxberger at the GM Meetings. Both excellent Rays relievers were said to be drawing wide interest, so it’s not a surprise to see Houston — a team that has been oft-connected to bullpen help dating back to July — checking in with Tampa Bay. Drellich also hears that Tony Sipp’s market is picking up, and the southpaw has interest not only from the Astros but from other teams within the AL West.
- The Royals, too, have some interest in Sipp, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Though Kansas City has a dominant bullpen, it could be in the need of some left-handed help. Franklin Morales, who was quietly excellent in 2015, is a free agent, and Danny Duffy could rejoin the rotation next season. Tim Collins will be back from Tommy John surgery, but the team can’t bank on a full return to form for the undersized southpaw. KC will also be without right-handers Greg Holland (TJ surgery) and Madson (free agent) in 2016, and Sipp has a track record of retiring both right-handers and left-handers alike.
- SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo adds a team to the expanding market for Joakim Soria, tweeting that the Angels also have some interest in the right-hander. Given the other needs around the roster for the Halos, who have a deep supply of bullpen arms as it is, Soria would seem to be more of a luxury than an answer to a direct need.
- Of course, Aroldis Chapman is the top name on the trade market for relief help right now, and he’s already had his name surface in rumors today. Peter Gammons reported earlier this morning that he spoke to four people who expect Chapman to be moved by the end of the weekend, and reports since that time have pegged the Red Sox as an interested party. We’re monitoring all of the latest Chapman rumors in a separate post.