6:54pm: The Tigers have announced the signing. They designated catcher Eric Haase for assignment in a corresponding move. Haase, whom Detroit acquired from division-rival Cleveland last winter, collected 19 plate appearances for the Tigers in 2020. The 28-year-old owns a .122/.170/.184 line in 53 major league PA.
5:08pm: The Tigers have agreed to a one-year deal with free-agent right-hander Jose Urena, Jon Heyman of MLB Network tweets. It’s a $3.25MM pact, Robert Murray of FanSided reports. The contract comes with up to $250K in incentives based on games started, according to Heyman. Urena is a client of Kelly Kinzer.
Detroit will be the second major league organization for Urena, a 29-year-old who pitched in the bigs with the Marlins from 2015-20. Urena enjoyed a couple of respectable seasons in Miami from 2017-18, during which he recorded a 3.90 ERA/4.68 FIP with 6.36 K/9, 3.01 BB/9 and a 46.3 percent groundball rate across 343 2/3 innings.
At his best, Urena looked like a potential building block for the Marlins’ rotation, but the team soured on him after he was unable to offer much positive production during the previous two seasons. Urena threw 108 frames from 2019-20, including 23 1/3 last season, and combined for a subpar 5.25 ERA/5.02 FIP. Despite a fastball that clocked in at 95.5 mph, Urena notched one of his lowest strikeout rates of his career last season with 5.79 per nine and registered by far his highest BB/9 (5.01). The Marlins then non-tendered Urena in lieu of paying him a projected $3.8MM to $4.2MM via arbitration.
Urena will now look to get back on track in Detroit, which has Matthew Boyd, Spencer Turnbull, Michael Fulmer, Daniel Norris and Tyler Alexander as veterans with at least some degree of starting experience. Meanwhile, prospects Casey Mize, Matt Manning and Tarik Skubal don’t seem far away from vying for full-time roles. Urena figures to be a stopgap for the Tigers, then, but they clearly regard him as an interesting reclamation project.