Here’s the latest from the AL Central on a quiet Saturday night:
- Tigers owner Mike Ilitch was a big reason why Justin Upton decided to sign with Detroit, writes Terence Moore of MLB.com. Ilitch has repeatedly shown a willingness to invest in his club, this time blowing by the luxury tax threshold for the first time in club history. Upton had this to say at his press conference, “I think what sold me mostly is Mr. Ilitch is a guy who wants to win ballgames, wants to win a championship.” The club has seemingly improved across the board by adding Upton, starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann, and closer Francisco Rodriguez (among others).
- Bruce Rondon is expected to join the Tigers in Spring Training, reports Aaron McMann of Mlive.com. Rondon is currently suffering the aftereffects of chikungunya virus, a mosquito-born illness. He’s made headlines a couple times in the last half year. The team sent Rondon home prior to the end of the season due to a lack of effort. Rondon was serving as the club’s interim closer for much of the preceding period. More recently, he was a part of a large bench clearing brawl in the Venezuelan Winter League.
- Infield prospect JaCoby Jones is also expected to report to Spring Training on time, per McMann. Jones has 38 games remaining on a 50 game suspension for a “drug of abuse.” It was his second such offense. Jones was acquired at the trade deadline in exchange for Joakim Soria.
- The Indians have another uphill battle in the AL Central after the Tigers signed Upton, writes Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Even after the deal, Cleveland is projected to win the division by FanGraphs. However, it’s expected to a wild ride with just six wins separating the Indians (84-78) from the last place Twins (78-84). Incidentally, the Indians are expected to spend about $100MM less on their ball club than the Tigers (82-80). Pluto wistfully wishes the club would dedicate a few more dollars to improving their playoff odds.