The Tigers and right-hander Edward Mujica have agreed to a minor league contract with an invite to Major League Spring Training, reports Tommy Stokke of FanRag Sports (Twitter link). Mujica is represented by Octagon.
[Related: Detroit Tigers Depth Chart]
The 32-year-old Mujica (33 in May) opened the 2016 season in the Phillies’ minor league ranks but was granted his release after not being promoted by mid-July. Mujica worked to a 3.69 ERA with 6.2 K/9 against a pristine 0.9 BB/9 (27 strikeouts, four walks) in 39 innings with the Phillies’ Triple-A affiliate in Lehigh Valley. He went on to sign with the Royals but struggled with their Triple-A affiliate before latching on with the Twins’ Triple-A affiliate and again pitching quite well to close out the year. All told, the former Cardinals closer logged a 4.37 ERA with 7.6 K/9 against 1.2 BB/9 in 57 2/3 innings at Triple-A last year.
Mujica, of course, comes with a great deal of Major League experience as well. After breaking into the bigs with the Indians back in 2006 at the age of 22, he cemented himself as a Major League bullpen piece with the Padres in 2009, logging a 3.94 ERA in 93 2/3 innings. From 2009-13, Mujica was a quality, durable reliever for San Diego, Miami and St. Louis, posting a collective 3.31 ERA with 7.4 K/9, 1.4 BB/9 and roughly average ground-ball tendencies. He saved 37 games for the 2013 Cardinals before hitting free agency and inking a two-year deal with the Red Sox. The first season of that deal proved solid, if a bit underwhelming (3.90 ERA in 60 innings), but his 2015 season was split between Boston and Oakland, and the resulting 4.75 ERA was far from impressive.
The Tigers will have Francisco Rodriguez closing games for them to begin the 2017 season (barring a trade) and also project to have Justin Wilson, Bruce Rondon and Alex Wilson in next year’s bullpen. Top prospect Joe Jimenez was dominant in Triple-A last season and could factor into the mix early in the year as well. Veterans Mark Lowe and Mike Pelfrey are also likely ticketed for ’pen work, though each is coming off a dreadful 2016 season and could potentially see his contract dumped if the Tigers are willing to eat some of the remaining cash they’re owed. Among non-roster invitees, Mujica will compete with the likes of fellow former big leaguers Collin Balester, A.J. Achter and Logan Kensing in trying to earn a roster spot this spring.