The Tigers have signed Chase Anderson to a minor league contract with a non-roster invitation to big league Spring Training, according to his transactions log at MLB.com. Additionally, veteran backstop Ryan Lavarnway announced on Instagram he has signed with Detroit. Jason Beck of MLB.com tweets that’s also a minors deal with an NRI to MLB camp.
Anderson, 34, has been a durable member of big league rotations dating back to 2014. Never an overpowering arm, Anderson nevertheless outperformed his peripherals for a few seasons with the D-Backs and Brewers. The changeup specialist threw plenty of strikes and generally avoided hard contact en route to an ERA right around 4.00 for much of his early career. He even posted a 2.74 mark over 141 1/3 innings with the Brew Crew in 2017 and remained a solid starter through 2019.
The past couple seasons have been tough for the University of Oklahoma product. Despite career-best strikeout and swinging strike rates with the Blue Jays in 2020, he was tagged for a 7.22 ERA in 33 2/3 innings, allowing a staggering 11 longballs in that time. The Phillies rolled the dice on a bounceback, guaranteeing Anderson $4MM in hopes he’d right the ship. He continued to struggle in Philadelphia, though, working 48 innings of 6.75 ERA ball.
Philadelphia released Anderson in late August. He caught on with the Rangers on a minor league deal but didn’t get another look at the highest level. He’ll take another crack at it this spring with Detroit, which has an uncertain group at the back of the rotation. At present, Tyler Alexander looks the favorite for the #5 starter’s job behind Casey Mize, Eduardo Rodríguez, Tarik Skubal and Matt Manning. Alex Faedo and Joey Wentz are the top depth options, but neither has yet appeared in the majors. Of course, Detroit could still add to the rotation over the next three weeks.
A quintessential third catcher, Lavarnway has appeared in the big leagues in ten of the past eleven seasons. He has tallied 486 cumulative plate appearances, hitting .217/.272/.345 with nine home runs. The righty-hitting backstop played in nine games with Cleveland last season. He spent more time with their top affiliate in Columbus, posting a .260/.338/.520 mark in 199 Triple-A plate appearances.