The Tigers announced agreement with relievers Daniel Norris and Jacob Barnes on minor league contracts. Detroit also confirmed the signing of righty Chi Chi González to a non-roster deal, which was first reported over the weekend. Chris McCosky of the Detroit News reported (Twitter links) both of today’s signings before the club announcement.
Norris and Barnes have each previously been members of the organization. The former spent six seasons in Detroit. Acquired from the Blue Jays as the centerpiece of the David Price deadline deal in 2015, Norris spent his first few years in the rotation. His tenure was up-and-down, and the Tigers kicked him to the bullpen starting with the shortened 2020 campaign. The left-hander posted a 3.25 ERA through 27 2/3 frames as a multi-inning type that year. Norris struggled to keep runs off the board in the first half of the following season, but he had impressive enough strikeout and ground-ball numbers the Brewers acquired him for pitching prospect Reese Olson last summer.
That deal didn’t pan out for Milwaukee, as Norris’ ERA never bounced back. He qualified for free agency and signed a $1.75MM guarantee with the Cubs this spring. The 29-year-old tossed 30 innings for the North Siders but allowed nearly seven earned runs per nine. He struck out an excellent 32.1% of opponents, but a lofty 15.7% walk percentage and marked home run issues led Chicago to release him last week. The Tigers would only owe Norris the prorated portion of the $700K league minimum salary if he makes it back to the majors.
Barnes was a Tiger as recently as last month. The right-hander broke camp with Detroit and made 22 appearances, managing only a 6.10 ERA across 20 2/3 frames. Typically a high-strikeout arm, Barnes generated swinging strikes on a meager 7.7% of his offerings this season. The Tigers cut him loose last month. The 32-year-old signed a minor league deal with the Mariners, briefly reached the majors but didn’t make an appearance, and was then outrighted off Seattle’s roster. He elected free agency and now returns to his first organization of the season in hopes of getting back to the big leagues.
González has already suited up for two MLB teams this year. He began the season on a non-roster pact with the division-rival Twins, making a pair of starts. The Brewers claimed him off waivers and deployed him four times before outrighting him off the roster. The 30-year-old has a 6.87 ERA in 18 1/3 big league innings this season, although he posted a much more palatable 3.44 mark in Triple-A. Unlike Morris and Barnes, González can serve as rotation depth.
The additions to the pitching depth come at a time when the Tigers are widely expected to move multiple hurlers off the big league staff. As MLBTR’s Steve Adams recently explored, veteran relievers Andrew Chafin, Michael Fulmer and Joe Jiménez are among the league’s more obvious candidates to change teams before next Tuesday’s trade deadline.