The Tigers have announced that they’ve agreed to terms on a one-year contract with left-handed reliever Blaine Hardy in order to avoid arbitration. Hardy will earn around $750K in the deal, according to Tony Paul of the Detroit News (Twitter link), which is slightly below the $800K that MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projected Hardy would earn in the southpaw’s first year of arbitration eligibility.
Hardy has split time between Detroit and Triple-A Toledo during the past two seasons, performing just below replacement level in 2017. His best season in the majors came back in 2015, when he spent the entire year in the big leagues and posted a 3.08 ERA and 2.89 FIP across 70 appearances. The southpaw throws his 90 MPH fastball and his changeup most of the time, occasionally mixing in a curveball and a slider. Although his 5.94 ERA in 2017 isn’t exciting, he’s shown better results in previous years and is used against both left-handed and right-handed hitters.
The team also officially announced the signings of four players to minor-league deals, all with invites to spring training. Those players are right-handers Kevin Comer and Mark Montgomery, infielder Niko Goodrum and outfielder Chad Huffman.
Comer, 25, has spent most of his career in the Astros organization, reaching the Triple-A level for the first time in 2017. The righty reliever has shown a propensity for notching K’s; he struck out 10.46 batters per nine innings for the Fresno Grizzlies this past season. He had trouble limiting walks (3.96 BB/9), but his strikeout upside could help him force his way into a desperate Tigers bullpen; Detroit’s relievers were the only relief group in the majors to post a combine for below-replacement level production in 2017.
Montgomery has also never played in the big leagues, but showed great command at the Triple-A level within the Cardinals organization this past year. The former 11th round pick of the Yankees notched nearly five strikeouts for every walk he issued, while posting a 2.43 ERA across 66 2/3 innings. Interestingly, he only made 46 appearances, implying that he was being utilized as a multi-inning reliever a good portion of the time.
The 25-year-old Goodrum has never known any organization other than the Twins, who drafted him in the second round back in 2010. The 6’3″ switch-hitter made his major league debut in September, compiling 18 plate appearances and striking out in ten of them. He did manage to hit 13 homers and steal 11 bases at Triple-A Rochester, however, and is seemingly capable of providing good defense at second base.
Though Huffman debuted in the major leagues in 2010, he only played in 9 games with the Yankees and didn’t make it back to the MLB level until this past season. The righty-hitting outfielder accrued 15 plate appearances with the Cardinals in September, and reached base in five of them. Huffman will return to a Tigers organization for whose Triple-A affiliate he posted a .286/.387/.505 batting line in 511 plate appearances back in 2016.