MLB Trade Rumors » » Detroit Tigers 2018-02-25T13:43:48Z Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Francisco Liriano Discusses Signing With Tigers]]> 2018-02-25T05:04:18Z 2018-02-25T05:04:18Z
  • Familiarity with the Tigers’ coaching staff and an opportunity to start helped lead lefty Francisco Liriano to sign with the club, he told Evan Woodbery of and other reporters on Friday. The 34-year-old Liriano is now reunited with Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire, whom he played under as a Twin from 2005-12. “I feel playing for Gardy makes it easier for me, and also having the opportunity to start here,” said Liriano, who, for the first time in his career, is coming off a season in which he totaled more relief appearances (20) than starts (18). After working to a 5.66 ERA/4.64 FIP across a combined 97 frames with Toronto and Houston in 2017, Liriano will attempt to revive his career on a $4MM salary in Detroit.
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    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[AL Central Notes: Santiago, Merritt, Liriano, Aybar]]> 2018-02-24T22:47:58Z 2018-02-24T22:47:58Z Hector Santiago, who came back to the White Sox this offseason on a minor-league deal, has come up with a strategy to combat the  fastball decline that often comes with aging, James Fegan of The Athletic writes. The southpaw plans to bring back the screwball he threw in his days as a rookie. “I have not gone a day this offseason or in spring training where I have not thrown a screwball,” he said. “I’ve thrown a screwball in both my BPs and my only bullpen. It’s almost taken over my changeup. Lot of people say it’s gone, but nah, I just substituted my changeup for my screwball and I throw a lot more screwballs than changeup.” Notably, his arm motion for the screwball is similar to that of his changeup, which could help with deception in his delivery as he uses both to play off his fastball. Fegan notes that Santiago could be at the “top of the heap” of the White Sox’ MiLB free agent arms, if he can return to health and effectiveness.

    A few other small items out of the AL Central…

    • Much has been made of the fact that young Indians lefty (and 2016 postseason hero) Ryan Merritt is out of options and faces an uphill battle to make the club’s rotation out of spring training. But the 26-year-old isn’t focused on that right now, writes’s Jordan Bastian. “I’m really not going to get caught up in what’s going to happen a month from now,” he said. “I can control today. And, when I show up tomorrow, I can control what I do that day.” Merritt has a career 1.74 ERA (albeit in just 20 2/3 major league innings), but is most famous for starting Game 5 of the 2016 ALCS for the Indians, allowing zero runs across his 4 1/3 innings against the Blue Jays. Cleveland would go on to win that game, punching their ticket to the World Series.
    • New Tigers lefty Francisco Liriano will compete for a spot in the club’s rotation during spring training, GM Al Avila says (via Jason Beck of However, if he’s unable to make the club in that capacity, he’s willing to pitch out of the bullpen. It’s possible that the 34-year-old’s best days are behind him, as he’s posted consecutive seasons with an ERA north of 4.60. Even as a reliever with the Astros last season, he posted a 4.40 ERA down the stretch with nearly as many walks as strikeouts. Still, if he can show some flashes of his peak performance with the Pirates from 2013-2015, he’d represent a solid option for a Tigers club that is largely devoid of secure rotation options outside of Michael Fulmer.
    • Erick Aybar recently signed with the Twins, but Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press tweets that the infielder had received interest from the Reds and Rangers as well. He reportedly chose the Twins because he liked their opportunity best. In a later tweet, Berardino reports that Aybar will make his spring training debut on Monday (though Aybar told manager Paul Molitor that he was ready to play in today’s matchup).
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Tigers Designate Jairo Labourt]]> 2018-02-23T22:56:40Z 2018-02-23T22:56:40Z The Tigers have designated lefty Jairo Labourt for assignment, per a team announcement. His roster spot will go to just-signed southpaw Francisco Liriano.

    Labourt, who’ll soon reach his 24th birthday, reached the majors briefly for the first time in 2017. That was quite an achievement in and of itself, as he had never pitched above the High-A level entering the season.

    Moving to the pen on a full-time basis seemed to unlock some potential for Labourt, who posted intriguing K:BB numbers at High-A and Double-A before ascending to the highest level of the minors. While he recorded a 2.45 ERA in 22 frames at Triple-A, though, he also recorded more walks than strikeouts — a less-than-promising development that continued in his six MLB innings.

    With such a mixed bag in 2017, it’s far from clear whether other organizations will decide it’s worth occupying a roster spot to gain control over Labourt. He did show a 93 mph fastball in the majors, but went to his slider on two-thirds of his deliveries in his short time at the game’s highest level. Given the walk tallies and a pedestrian 7.2% swinging-strike rate, it seems quite a lot of refinement is still needed.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Tigers To Sign Louis Coleman]]> 2018-02-23T22:42:09Z 2018-02-23T22:42:09Z The Tigers have agreed to terms on a minors deal with righty Louis Coleman, according to SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (via Twitter). Additional terms of the accord are not yet known.

    Coleman, 31, has spent parts of six seasons in the majors, most recently in 2016 with the Dodgers. Though he struggled in his 48 frames with Los Angeles, Coleman was at least able to show again that he could stay healthy after missing the bulk of 2015. He posted velocity and swinging-strike (12.4%) figures in line with his career norms, but ended the year with a 4.69 ERA and 8.4 K/9 against 4.5 BB/9.

    It came as no surprise when Coleman settled for a minor-league agreement with the Reds last winter, but it also seemed reasonable to expect he could earn his way back to the majors. After all, prior to landing with the Dodgers, Coleman owned a lifetime 3.20 ERA through 177 1/3 MLB frames.

    As it turned out, though, Coleman failed to crack the Reds’ dreadful pen and also could not earn a shot upon signing with the Diamondbacks in the middle of the 2017 campaign. But he did rack up quality innings at Triple-A through the year, ended with 64 frames of 2.25 ERA pitching over fifty outings. Coleman averaged a solid 10.8 K/9 on the year, though he also surrendered 4.5 BB/9, reflecting a longstanding propensity to hand out a few too many free passes.

    Now, Coleman will join the mix at Tigers camp in hopes of earning a spot in the pecking order — if not a MLB job out of camp. The organization is not exactly loaded with sure things in the relief corps. Unsurprisingly, the Tigers have brought in a few non-roster players already, including pitchers such as Travis Wood and Enrique Burgos, to boost the depth and provide competition this spring.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Tigers Sign Francisco Liriano]]> 2018-02-24T04:04:42Z 2018-02-23T21:08:46Z 3:08pm: Liriano is officially a member of the Tigers.

    12:44pm: The Tigers have agreed to a one-year, $4MM contract with lefty Francisco Liriano, reports FanRag’s Robert Murray (Twitter link). The deal also contains another $1MM in available incentives tied to significant awards, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweets. Murray had recently tweeted that the market for Liriano, a client of the Legacy Agency, was picking up some steam.

    Liriano, 34, enjoyed a resurgence as a key member of the Pirates from 2013-15, somewhat quietly reestablishing himself as a considerably above-average big league starter.

    Francisco Liriano | Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    The past two seasons, though, have been another story. Liriano has bounced from Pittsburgh to Toronto to Houston, working to a combined 5.05 ERA through 260 innings as the control issues that hounded him earlier in his career resurfaced (4.8 BB/9, 1.3 HR/9). Accordingly, Liriano’s swinging-strike rate dropped to 11.4 percent in 2016 and 9.6 in 2017 — the worst marks of his career.

    Liriano still averages better than 92 mph on his fastball and can induce grounders at an average or better rate. He also held lefties to a fairly feeble .247/.300/.355 slash last season, though one would typically prefer to see a bit more dominance against same-handed opponents when considering a pitcher as a left-handed specialist. It’s not clear at this time whether he’ll function as a starter or a reliever with his new club, though in his run with the Astros last season, he worked exclusively out of the bullpen.

    At present, though, the Tigers certainly seem like a team that could use some rotation depth. Ace Michael Fulmer is coming off surgery to re-position the ulnar nerve in his pitching arm, while Jordan Zimmermann battled neck and back injuries in what was a dismal overall season in his second year with Detroit.

    Young lefties Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd have yet to cement themselves as quality big league options, even though each has flashed potential on more than one occasion. And righty Mike Fiers, signed earlier this winter to be the fifth starter, is coming off a poor season himself, which led to a non-tender from the Astros. Longtime setup man Alex Wilson is being stretched out as a potential starter this spring as well, and veteran non-roster invitee Travis Wood could also vie for a starting spot.

    If Liriano is used in relief, he’ll join Blaine Hardy and Daniel Stumpf as southpaws in a bullpen, where Wood could also compete for a spot. The current composition of the Tigers’ bullpen is thin beyond closer Shane Greene, to put things delicately. Jason Martinez of MLBTR and Roster Resource currently projects Wilson (assuming he doesn’t start), Drew VerHagen, Hardy, Stumpf, Joe Jimenez and Buck Farmer to round out the relief corps behind Greene. Johnny Barbato, Zac Reininger and Jairo Labourt are all 40-man options in Triple-A, while Wood, Enrique Burgos and Victor Alcantara headline the non-roster invitees competing for jobs this spring.

    Liriano is a known commodity for much of the Tigers coaching staff, as first-year Detroit manager Ron Gardenhire served as his skipper from 2005-12 with the Twins. Tigers bullpen coach Rick Anderson was Liriano’s pitching coach during his Twins days, while bench coach Steve Liddle and quality control coach Joe Vavra were also on Gardenhire’s staff when Liriano was with Minnesota.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Chris Tillman Threw For Tigers On Saturday]]> 2018-02-18T22:51:13Z 2018-02-18T22:51:13Z The Tigers remain on the lookout for a starter, which could lead to a Chris Tillman signing, Jon Heyman of FanRag tweets. Tillman threw for the Tigers on Saturday, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun adds (via Twitter). Both Heyman and Encina note that Tillman is deciding among three teams and likely to sign within the next day or two, and they agree that a return to the Orioles is a legitimate possibility.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Tigers Prospect Bryan Garcia To Undergo Tommy John Surgery]]> 2018-02-15T03:01:07Z 2018-02-15T03:01:07Z
  • Tigers right-handed relief prospect Bryan Garcia has suffered a torn UCL and will undergo Tommy John surgery tomorrow, the team announced (hat tip to’s Jason Beck).  Dr. James Andrews will perform the procedure.  Garcia was a sixth-round pick for Detroit in the 2016 draft and was making a rapid rise through the organization, pitching at four different levels in 2017 including 13 1/3 innings at Triple-A Toledo.  Over 73 2/3 pro innings, Garcia posted an impressive 2.20 ERA, 12.2 K/9 and a 4.00 K/BB rate.  Unfortunately, the 22-year-old now faces a recovery period of 12-15 months.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Tigers Will Reportedly Attend Lincecum Showcase]]> 2018-02-14T05:02:07Z 2018-02-14T04:55:29Z
  • More than 10 teams are set to attend Tim Lincecum’s showcase on Thursday, it seems. Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press, Rhett Bollinger of and Roch Kubatko of respectively report that the Tigers, Twins and Orioles will have scouts in attendance (all Twitter links). Heyman adds another handful of clubs, listing the Rangers, Phillies, Dodgers, YankeesRed Sox, Brewers, Padres and Braves as attendees (links to Twitter for the last three), in addition to the previously reported Giants. If anything, it’s perhaps more notable which clubs have elected not to attend the showcase, as there’s no real downside to at least taking a look and the showcase is shaping up to be reasonably well-attended. To that end, the New York Post’s Kevin Kernan wrote over the weekend that the Mets aren’t planning to have a scout in attendance.
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    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Quick Hits: Van Hekken, Free Agent Spending, Rockies]]> 2018-02-03T23:10:12Z 2018-02-03T22:41:00Z 38-year-old former Tigers starter Andy Van Hekken is attempting to earn a job with an MLB club, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press writes. Anyone calling it a comeback attempt should note this bit of context: Van Hekken hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2002 and only has five career starts at that level. Still, the Holland native is reportedly training back in his home county, and a late-thirties push for MLB has been in his plans for a while. “I’ve been thinking about it over the last few years,” he said. “I always wanted to come back and give it another try to get back to the big leagues and see if I could do it. I would love an opportunity and hopefully there will be one.” As Fenech aptly points out, Van Hekken’s timing couldn’t be worse… there are well over a hundred free agents who have yet to sign during what has been a phenomenally slow hot stove season. The left-hander is best known for throwing a complete game shutout against the Indians in his major league debut. He’s mixed a high-80’s fastball with a forkball to great success in Korea during the past half-decade or so, posting solid ground ball and strikeout rates.

    Some other items from around the league as we inch closer to spring training…

    • Have fans been conditioned to accept half-hearted attempts at contention? Travis Sawchik attempts to answer this question in a piece for Fangraphs. Sawchik writes that while it’s typically for business owners to take great care in running their businesses efficiently and at a profit, baseball is not a typical business. Fans invest in ballclubs both emotionally and fiscally (with their taxes), so owners have a civic duty to put a competitive product on the field. He references former Tigers owner Mike Illitch, who at times spent irrationally on his club. He even kept a General Motors advertisement above the center field batter’s eye when the company could no longer afford it, in similar spirit of upholding the city’s identity. Sawchik then turns his focus to Nutting, who has gutted the club’s core to slash payroll by $20MM this season without paying for a single free agent. Sawchik suspects that the club could cover its current payroll without selling a single ticket, and points out its $50MM BAMtech payment from Disney (that also hasn’t been reinvested in the team). He posits that fans have been trained to accept the “small-market” excuse for not spending as a reality, when in fact it may not entirely explain a given club’s low payroll.
    • The Rockies have built a contending club in part by betting on its youthful rotation, Daniel Cramer of writes. Back in spring training of 2016, GM Jeff Bridich apparently told young right-hander Jeff Hoffman that the club wasn’t seeking any veteran upgrades. Fast forward to today, and the organization hopes to build on a “blossoming pitching culture with the potential for sustained success”. Cramer describes Colorado’s blueprint for pitchers as “a power arm supplemented with a mental confidence to pitch at Coors Field.” For their part, a group consisting of German Marquez, Kyle Freeland, Tyler Chatwood, Jon Gray, Jeff Hoffman, Antonio Senzatela, Tyler Anderson and Chad Bettis combined for 11.8 fWAR last season (good for 11th in the majors), and that entire group minus Chatwood is set to return for 2018.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Greene Confident He'll Be Tigers' Closer]]> 2018-02-01T05:24:28Z 2018-02-01T05:02:24Z
  • Shane Greene expects to be the Tigers’ closer in 2017, writes George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press“I feel like I’m the closer and I’ve earned that job and it’s my job to lose,” said the 29-year-old Greene, who pitched to a 2.66 ERA with 9.7 K/9, 4.5 BB/9, 0.8 HR/9 and a 47.4 percent ground-ball rate in 67 2/3 innings for Detroit in 2017.  New pitching coach Chris Bosio spoke positively of Greene’s stuff and makeup, and Sipple notes that the team’s decision to allow setup man Alex Wilson to compete for a starting job this spring only enhances Greene’s grip on the ninth inning. Speculatively, young Joe Jimenez will eventually be the biggest on-paper threat to Greene’s chances, but he was torched for a 12.32 ERA in 19 innings last year. Jimenez, though, turned 23 just two weeks ago and has a career 1.56 ERA with 13.0 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in the minors. He’ll need to prove himself in the Majors, though he could find himself in high-leverage situations sooner rather than later if he’s able to do so early in the year.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Tigers Sign Travis Wood To Minor League Deal]]> 2018-01-29T20:32:05Z 2018-01-29T20:24:30Z The Tigers announced Monday that they’ve signed left-hander Travis Wood to a minor league contract and invited him to Major League Spring Training. Wood was released by the Padres earlier this offseason. He’s represented by Frontline.

    Wood, 30, signed a two-year, $12MM contract with the Royals last winter but struggled enormously both in Kansas City and in San Diego this past season. The former Cubs lefty posted an ERA north of 6.70 with both teams last year, working to an overall 6.80 ERA with 6.2 K/9, 4.3 BB/9 and a 1.8 HR/9 mark in 94 innings. He’s still owed $6.5MM in 2018, but the Royals agreed to pay the entirety of that sum when he was traded to San Diego, so Wood represents a lottery ticket for a Tigers staff that could use him in either the rotation or bullpen if he shows signs of returning to form in Spring Training.

    Brutal as his 2017 campaign was, it wasn’t that long ago that Wood was an effective big league arm. From 2015-16, Wood totaled 161 2/3 innings with a 3.51 ERA, 9.2 K/9, 3.5 BB/9 and 1.1 HR/9 between nine starts and 122 relief appearances for the Cubs. Overall, he logged a 3.94 ERA in just shy of 700 innings in parts of five seasons in Chicago. For a Tigers club that is short on depth in both the rotation and the bullpen, Wood is a reasonable enough roll of the dice.

    The Tigers’ rotation currently projects to contain Michael Fulmer, Daniel Norris, Matt Boyd, Jordan Zimmermann and Mike Fiers, though Wood could certainly seize a spot in the event of an injury or some early struggles from the yet-unproven Norris and Boyd. In the bullpen, manager Ron Gardenhire has lefties Daniel Stumpf, Blaine Hardy and Jairo Labourt to choose from, but Wood can certainly push that trio for innings if he shows well in Grapefruit League play.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Alex Wilson To Stretch Out As Starting Pitcher]]> 2018-01-27T15:44:39Z 2018-01-27T15:43:58Z
  • Alex Wilson will stretch out as a starter in the Tigers’ spring camp, the right-hander tells Chris McCosky of the Detroit News.  Just one of Wilson’s 231 MLB appearances has come as a starting pitcher, and even that was a three-inning emergency outing in 2015.  Still, Wilson has been a durable multi-inning reliever and feels a transition is possible.  As McCosky notes, it’s essentially “a no-risk experiment” for the Tigers since Wilson can always return to his previous bullpen role if the rotation move doesn’t pan out.  Wilson posted a 2.47 ERA over 171 1/3 IP from 2014-16, though an inflated homer rate boosted his ERA to 4.50 over 60 frames last season.  The righty also said that he is fully recovered from a broken right leg suffered last September.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Avila On Free Agency, TIgers' Rebuild]]> 2018-01-25T19:54:03Z 2018-01-25T19:53:12Z
  • Tigers GM Al Avila said this week that his team could still make some additions to the 40-man roster,’s Jason Beck writes. The GM didn’t cite a specific area of need, indicating that he could have room to add a starter, a position player or a reliever. What’s clear, though, is that the Tigers don’t plan on making any kind of move that would come with long-term ramifications. “I’m not trying to come across as saying we’re going to try to pick up a pitcher here, a pitcher there and it’s going to make us so much better that we have a chance to win a championship,” Avila stated. “At this point, we might try to pick up a player here or there to, quite frankly, get us through the season, and hopefully have a guy have a bounceback and be able to make a trade later on and acquire a younger player, a piece here, a piece there, to make ourselves better little by little.” Comments like that, of course, make the MLBPA and agents alike bristle, as they’re the type of non-competitive remarks that have often been cited as a reason for the historically slow free-agent market. The Tigers have spent a bit of cash this offseason, signing Leonys Martin and Mike Fiers to Major League deals, but they won’t come anywhere near their previous levels of spending as they embark on what figures to be a lengthy rebuilding effort.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 1/23/18]]> 2018-01-23T20:27:35Z 2018-01-23T18:59:02Z We’ll track the day’s minor moves in this post:

    • Outfielder Jacob May was outrighted by the White Sox after clearing waivers, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy reports. Likewise, Angels lefty Nate Smith is headed for Triple-A via outright. Both were designated for assignment recently.
    • Infielder Ty Kelly is returning to the Mets, per SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (via Twitter). The 29-year-old first reached the bigs in New York and also spent time in the majors last year with the Phillies. He has hit well at times in the upper minors but has yet to translate that to the majors in limited opportunities.
    • The Tigers have purchased the contract of lefty Caleb Thielbar from the St. Paul Saints, per an announcement from the indy ball club. Soon to turn 31, Thielbar hasn’t seen the majors since 2015. In 98 2/3 total innings at the game’s highest level, though, he has pitched to a 2.74 ERA with 7.2 K/9 against 2.7 BB/9. He was released by the Marlins just before the start of the 2017 season after competing for a job in camp.
    • Righty Carlos Frias is re-joining the Indians on a minors pact, the club announced. The 28-year-old, who has not seen substantial MLB time since 2015, stumbled to an 8.05 ERA with an ugly 21:22 K/BB ratio at Triple-A last year with the Cleveland organization.
    • The Angels have re-signed lefty John Lamb, Cotillo tweets. Once a well-regarded prospect, the 27-year-old saw his career derailed by back issues. He did throw 139 innings at Triple-A last year with the Halos organization, though he managed only a 5.44 ERA with 5.2 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9.
    • Reliever Bryan Harper has re-joined the Nationals on a minor-league deal with a spring invite, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports on Twitter. Bryce’s older brother has never been seen as a major asset, but he’s an accomplished minor-league reliever. He missed all of 2017 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but has allowed less than three earned runs per nine in over a hundred frames in the upper minors.
    • Outfielder Matt Lipka is joining the Giants organization on a minor-league deal, Cotillo also tweets. A first-round pick in the 2010 draft, Lipka has not yet shown that he can hand the bat in the upper minors. He posted a .754 OPS in 370 plate appearances last year at the High-A level, but limped to a .160/.216/.223 slash over his 102 trips to the plate at Double-A.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Tigers To Sign Alexi Amarista]]> 2018-01-23T17:31:14Z 2018-01-23T17:17:35Z The Tigers have reached a minor-league deal with veteran infielder Alexi Amarista, according to Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free-Press (Twitter links). He’ll receive an invitation to participate in MLB camp.

    Amarista, 28, spent the 2017 season with the Rockies. The Colorado organization declined a $2.5MM club option for the coming season, preferring instead to pay him a $150K buyout.

    There’s little to love about Amarista’s offensive profile. He has never hit much, but his output has not even kept pace with the standard he set earlier in his career, when he was a heavily used player with the Padres. Over the past three seasons, Amarista owns a marginal .225/.268/.301 slash line with six home runs and 15 steals over 683 plate appearances.

    Clearly, the work with the bat does not explain Amarista’s appeal. Rather, it lies in his defensive versatility. Amarista has spent most of his career playing the middle infield, especially short, and also has significant time at thrid base and across the outfield (including in center).

    For Detroit, Amarista represents some much-needed veteran depth. He could challenge for a reserve role in camp along with fellow non-roster invitee Pete Kozma. Yet more opportunity could open up if the Tigers end up dealing shortstop Jose Iglesias.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Tigers, Jose Iglesias Avoid Arbitration]]> 2018-01-17T23:57:54Z 2018-01-17T23:57:54Z The Tigers announced that they’ve agreed to a one-year deal with shortstop Jose Iglesias for the 2018 season, thus avoiding arbitration. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, though Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports that Iglesias will earn $6.275MM on the deal (Twitter link). That rather handily tops the $5.6MM projected arbitration salary from MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz. Iglesias is represented by Magnus Sports.

    Iglesias, 28, is entering his final year of team control and will be a free agent next winter. He’s coming off his worst season at the plate, having batted just .255/.288/.369 as Detroit’s primary shortstop in 2017. That continued a troubling trend for Iglesias at the plate; the defensive standout batted .302/.348/.377 from 2013-15 (he missed the 2014 season due to injury), but has seen his bat deteriorate considerably since Opening Day 2016. Since that time, he’s logged a combined .255/.297/.353 slash.

    As can be seen in MLBTR’s 2018 Arbitration Tracker, Iglesias had filed for a $6.8MM salary, while the Tigers countered at $5.6MM. The two sides, then, settled just north of the $6.2MM midpoint. With Iglesias’ case resolved, the Tigers will avoid an arbitration hearing entirely in 2018, as they’ve now come to terms with all of their eligible players.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Tigers Open To Dealing Nicholas Castellanos]]> 2018-01-16T18:04:53Z 2018-01-16T17:12:36Z
  • The Tigers remain open to dealing Nicholas Castellanos this winter, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports. Castellanos is slated to earn $6.05MM in his second-to-last season of arbitration eligibility — a campaign in which he’s expected to undergo a full-time move to right field. Previously, we’ve heard that the 25-year-old had drawn some interest after he and the team failed to see eye to eye on an extension. That said, GM Al Avila has made clear the Tigers are not committed to trading Castellanos, whose glove hasn’t kept pace with his otherwise promising bat.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 1/12/18]]> 2018-01-13T04:29:29Z 2018-01-13T04:29:29Z The Braves released Adonis Garcia recently to allow him to move to the KBO, and the full set of transactions is now in the books. The 32-year-old third baseman has inked a $800K deal with the LG Twins, as Dan Kurtz of notes on Twitter. He played in the majors in each of the past three seasons but clearly was not a part of Atlanta’s plans for 2018.

    Let’s catch up on a few minor moves from around the game, all courtesy of SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (links to Twitter) …

    • Righty Tyler Cloyd will join the Marlins on a minors pact. Now thirty years off age, Cloyd has made just a single MLB appearance since wrapping up his time with the Phillies in 2013. He spent most of 2017 pitching at Triple-A in the Mariners organization, where he worked to a 5.67 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 60 1/3 innings. While the output hasn’t been very encouraging of late, Cloyd could have a chance to push for an important place on the Miami depth chart. The rebuilding club is sure to have some pitching opportunities in the season to come.
    • The Nationals added right-hander Justin Miller as well as slugger Balbino Fuenmayor on minor-league deals. Miller, 30 has seen 88 1/3 total MLB innings, spread over the 2014-16 campaigns, with a composite 4.99 ERA. He has shown some swing and miss ability at times, though. Last year, he pitched to a 5.48 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9 in 46 frames in the PCL. The 28-year-old Fuenmayor, meanwhile, played in Mexico last year after his once-prodigious upper-minors power output fizzled in 2016. He hit well in Mexico and has continued to rake in Venezuelan winter action.
    • Southpaw James Russell is headed to the Tigers organization on a non-roster arrangement. Whether he’ll receive a camp invite isn’t known in this case (or the others). The 32-year-old is long removed from his days as a solid bullpen presence. He last appeared in the majors, rather briefly, in 2016. Though he only threw 31 professional innings last year, all in the Mexican League, they were in a starting role. He worked to a 2.03 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Unresolved 2018 Arbitration Cases]]> 2018-01-13T03:05:53Z 2018-01-13T00:02:01Z We’ve covered a whole lot of arbitration deals today, many of them reached before today’s deadline to exchange filing figures. Some other agreements have come together after team and player submitted their numbers. It’s still possible, of course, that these situations will be resolved before an arbitration hearing becomes necessary. (At this point, we seem to lack full clarity on teams’ approaches to negotiations after the filing deadline. And most organizations make exceptions for multi-year deals even if they have a file-and-trial stance.)

    Some situations could even be dealt with in short order. As things stand, though, these unresolved arbitration cases could turn into significant hearings. (As always, MLBTR’s 2018 arbitration projections can be found here; you will also want to reference MLBTR’s 2018 arbitration tracker.)

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Players Avoiding Arbitration: American League]]> 2018-01-13T05:52:28Z 2018-01-12T21:00:23Z The deadline for MLB teams to exchange salary arbitration figures with their arbitration-eligible players is today at 1pm ET. As such, there will be a veritable flood of arb agreements piling up in the next few hours — especially in light of a more universal approach to the “file and trial” method for teams. (That is to say, those teams will no longer negotiate one-year deals after arb figures are exchanged and will instead head to a hearing with those players, barring an agreemenr on a multi-year deal.)

    Note that you can keep an eye on all of today’s deals using MLBTR’s 2018 Arbitration Tracker, which can be filtered to show only the results of the team you follow and is also sortable by service time and dollar value of the agreement. All projections that are referenced come from MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz’s annual compilation of projected arbitration salarie

    American League West

    • The Astros and Evan Gattis agreed to a $6.7MM deal for 2018, per FanRag’s Robert Murray (Twitter link). A free agent next season, Gattis lands within $100K of his $6.6MM projection. The club also has deals (for values unknown) with starters Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers Jr., and Brad Peacock, Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle tweets.
    • The Rangers agreed to a $1.05MM deal with infielder Jurickson Profar, tweets Murray. Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star Telegram, meanwhile, tweets that lefty Jake Diekman landed a $2.7125MM deal and righty Keone Kela will earn $1.2MM. Profar had been projected at $1.1MM and is controllable another three seasons. Diekman, a free agent next winter, was projected at $2.8MM. And Kela, still controlled for three more years, matched his $1.2MM projection on the dot.
    • The Athletics and closer Blake Treinen agreed to a $2.15MM deal for next year, tweets Murray. The A’s can control Treinen for another three years. He was projected at $2.3MM. Shortstop Marcus Semien has settled for $3.125MM, Heyman tweets; his $3.2MM projection was nearly spot-on. Oakland has announced that it has avoided arbitration with Liam Hendriks and Josh Phegley as well, but their salaries have yet to be reported.
    • The Angels have a one-year, $7.3MM agreement in place with right-hander Garrett Richards, per Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register (Twitter link). Richards, a free agent next offseason, tops his $7MM projection by a margin of $300K. The Halos have also avoided arb with first baseman C.J. Cron ($2.3MM) and left-hander Tyler Skaggs ($1.875MM), tweets USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. Cron’s total falls a ways shy of his $2.8MM projection, while Skaggs comes in just $25K south of his $1.9MM projection. Both are controllable through the 2020 season. Lastly, Murray tweets that Matt Shoemaker agreed to a $4.125MM deal. He’s controlled through 2020 and projected at $4.4MM. Fletcher also tweets that the club has agreed with righty J.C. Ramirez ($1.9MM salary vs. $2.6MM projection) and lefty Jose Alvarez ($1.05MM salary vs. $1.1MM projection). Finally, righty Cam Bedrosian has agreed at $1.1MM, Flecher tweets, which represents a payday close to his projection of $1.2MM.
    • Left-hander James Paxton will earn $4.9MM with the Mariners in 2018, tweets Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. Murray tweets that the Mariners and David Phelps agreed to a $5.55MM deal. Paxton, controlled through 2020, projected to earn $5.6MM, while Phelps was pegged at $5.8MM. He’s a free agent next winter. Righty Erasmo Ramirez took a $4.2MM deal,’s Greg Johns reports. That’s half a million shy of what the model suggested. Fellow right-hander Nick Vincent also has an agreement, but the terms aren’t yet known.

    American League Central

    • New lefty Luis Avilan has agreed to a $2.45MM deal with the White Sox, Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune reports via Twitter. The recent trade acquisition came with a projected $2.3MM price tag. Fellow southpaw Carlos Rodon will receive $2.3MM, a bit of a bump over the $2MM he projected to receive. Also, utilityman Leury Garcia gets $1.175MM, which is just $25K short of his projected value.
    • The Royals and righty Nate Karns agreed to a $1.375MM deal for 2018, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet reports (on Twitter). That lands within $25K of his $1.4MM projection for the coming season. Kansas City controls Karns through 2020. Meanwhile,’s Jeffrey Flanagan reports (via Twitter) that Kelvin Herrera will earn $7.9375MM in 2018, landing a bit shy of his $8.3MM projection. Herrera is a free agent next winter.
    • The Indians have a $5MM agreement with righty Danny Salazar,’s Jordan Bastian tweets. He had projected to earn just $200K more, this falls right in line with expectations. Cleveland also agreed with Lonnie Chisenhall on a $5.5875MM deal, tweets Nightengale. The third baseman-turned-outfielder, who was projected to earn $5.8MM, will be a free agent following the 2018 season.
    • Trevor May has a $650K agreement with the Twins for the 2018 season, according to Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. May, who missed the entire season due to Tommy John surgery (and did some writing for MLBTR during his rehab process), had been projected at $600K. The Twins also agreed to a $1MM deal with infielder Ehire Adrianza, per La Velle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune. Meanwhile, righty Ryan Pressly has agreed to a $1.6MM deal, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. Both deals are identical matches with their projections. Adrianza has three years of team control remaining, while Pressly has two. Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets that outfielder Robbie Grossman settled at $2MM, leaving him $400K shy of his projection. Grossman is controlled for another three seasons.
    • Tigers third baseman/outfielder Nick Castellanos will earn $6.05MM, per Heyman (via Twitter). He had projected at a much heftier $7.6MM in his second-to-last season of arb eligibility.’s Jason Beck reports (Twitter links) that the Tigers and right-handed reliever Alex Wilson settled at $1.925MM, while fellow righty Shane Greene will earn $1.95MM. Wilson was projected to earn $2.1MM, while Greene was at $1.7MM. Wilson is controlled through 2019, while Greene is under control through 2020.

    American League East

    • The Yankees have knocked out some of their biggest arb cases, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (Twitter links). Shortstop Didi Gregorius receives $8.25MM and righty Sonny Gray checks in at $6.5MM. The former had projected to earn $9.0MM while the algorithm was just $100K high on the latter.Backstop Austin Romine will earn $1.1MM, Heyman also tweets, which is also $100K below the projection. Righty Adam Warren and the Yankees have a $3.315MM deal, per Murray (Twitter link). This is Warren’s final season of eligibility before hitting the open market next winter. He’d been projected at $3.1MM. Meanwhile, fellow right-hander Dellin Betances has agreed to a $5.1MM deal, per’s Mark Feinsand (via Twitter). That’s just $100K more than Betances had sought last year, when he took his case to a hearing that he ultimately lost. But it’s quite a bit more than the $4.4MM he projected to receive after a subpar season in which he played at a $3MM salary.
    • The Red Sox have agreed to pay $8.5MM to southpaw Drew Pomeranz, per Alex Speier of the Boston Globe (Twitter link). That’s short of the $9.1MM that had been projected after Pomeranz turned in a productive 2017 season. Boston and Jackie Bradley Jr. settled at $6.1MM, tweets Murray. That’s a bit north of the $5.9MM at which he’d been projected for the upcoming season. Bradley Jr., a Super Two player, has another three seasons of club control remaining. Nightengale tweets that righty Joe Kelly ($3.6MM projection) agreed to a $3.825MM deal. He’ll be a free agent next winter. Lefty Eduardo Rodriguez ($2.375MM salary vs. $2.7MM projection) and righty Brandon Workman ($835K salary vs. $900K projection) are two other Sox hurlers that have agreed to terms, Speier reports (Twitter links). On the position player side, catcher Sandy Leon falls a bit under his projection $1.95MM (via Speier, on Twitter) while utilityman Brock Holt just beats expectations at $2.225MM (per’s Jerry Crasnick, on Twitter). The team also agreed with shortstop Xander Bogaerts for $7.05MM, Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston tweets, which comes in a bit shy of his $7.6MM projection. Boston also announced agreement with backstop Christian Vazquez, who’ll earn $1.425MM, per’s Ian Browne (via Twitter). That’s just under the projection of $1.5MM.
    • The Blue Jays and righty Aaron Sanchez agreed to a $2.7MM deal for 2018, according to Nightengale (Twitter link). That crushes his $1.9MM projection, which was likely suppressed due Sanchez’s lack of innings (just 36) in 2017. He’s under Jays control through 2020. Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith, meanwhile, tweets that second baseman Devon Travis will make $1.45MM next year, falling a bit shy of his $1.7MM forecast. Other Toronto players agreeing to terms include Kevin Pillar ($3.25MM vs. $4.0MM projection) and Dominic Leone ($1.085MM vs. $1.2MM projection),’s Gregor Chisholm tweets.
    • The Rays and closer Alex Colome settled at $5.3M, per USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (on Twitter). He’d been projected at $5.5MM and is controllable for three more years. They also settled at $5.95MM with outfielder/DH Corey Dickerson ($6.4MM projection) and $4.5MM with infielder Brad Miller ($4.4MM projection), per Murray (all Twitter links). Steven Souza, according to Murray will earn $3.55MM, placing him right in line with his $3.6MM projection. Dickerson and Miller are controlled through 2019. Souza is controlled through 2020.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Tigers Avoid Arbitration With James McCann]]> 2018-01-12T05:20:00Z 2018-01-12T05:12:47Z
  • The Tigers and catcher James McCann have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a $2.375MM salary for the 2018 season, per USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (on Twtter). McCann, who had a projected salary of $2.3MM, hit .253/.318/.415 with a career-high 13 homers and a 30 percent caught-stealing rate behind the dish in 2017. The Tigers announced the signing shortly thereafter.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Tigers Claim Johnny Barbato]]> 2018-01-11T19:33:03Z 2018-01-11T19:26:53Z The Tigers have claimed righty Johnny Barbato off waivers from the Pirates, the teams announced and Robert Murray of Fan Rag first tweeted. He was designated recently by Pittsburgh when the club claimed fellow righty Shane Carle.

    Barbato, 25, saw 28 2/3 innings of action in 2017, managing a 4.08 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 5.7 BB/9. Needless to say, that walk tally will need to go down if Barbato hopes to succeed in the majors. He has never shown major control issues in the minors, though, and he did demonstrate a 94+ mph fastball and average (for a reliever) 11.3% swinging-strike rate.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Tigers To Sign Brayan Pena]]> 2018-01-09T00:38:44Z 2018-01-09T00:38:44Z The Tigers have agreed to a minors deal with veteran catcher Brayan Pena, according to Chris Cotillo of SB Nation (via Twitter). It is not known at this time whether he’ll receive an invitation to MLB Spring Training, though that certainly seems likely.

    As things stand, Detroit seems fairly likely to enter the season with John Hicks backing up James McCann behind the dish. But the organization now has a pair of veterans that could push for a job in camp, with Pena joining Derek Norris as non-roster options. (As regards Norris, those interested in learning more about the team’s somewhat controversial decision to sign him will want to read this piece from Katie Strang of The Athletic.)

    As for Pena, he’ll be looking to break back into the majors after a 2017 season in which he failed to earn any MLB time for the first time since his debut year of 2005. Pena spent last season at Triple-A with the Royals organization, where he hit .274/.308/.298 in just 134 plate appearances.

    Previously, though, Pena enjoyed a rather lengthy history in the majors. After functioning as a fairly heavily utilized reserve for a few seasons with the Royals and Tigers — the latter of which received one of his best overall seasons in 2013 — Pena signed a two-year deal with the Reds. He ended up receiving extensive action in 2014-15 in Cincinnati, but managed only a .263/.313/.339 batting line there and has not received meaningful MLB time since.

    In 1,950 total trips to the plate in his career, he has turned in a .259/.299/.351 batting line with 23 home runs. That’s not an immense amount of offensive output, to be sure, but he has obviously long been valued as a steady contributor in a backup role and will at least represent an important depth piece for the Tigers.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Al Avila Discusses Jose Iglesias, Nicholas Castellanos, James McCann]]> 2018-01-07T05:31:53Z 2018-01-07T05:31:53Z
  • Earlier this week, Tigers general manager Al Avila discussed the futures of shortstop Jose Iglesias, third baseman/outfielder Nicholas Castellanos and catcher James McCann with Dan Dickerson and Pat Caputo on 97.1’s The Ticket (via Katie Strang of The Athletic; subscription required and strongly recommended). Avila expects Iglesias to be the Tigers’ Opening Day shortstop, but he acknowledged that the 28-year-old’s time with the franchise is likely to conclude in the near future. Iglesias “may well be traded at the trade deadline, if not sooner, depending on the needs that teams have out there for a shortstop,” said Avila. Strang goes on to break down potential replacements within the organization for Iglesias, who’s in his last year of arbitration eligibility (he’ll make a projected $5.6MM). Castellanos is in his penultimate year of arb control, meanwhile, and he’ll collect around $7.6MM. Although the Tigers have come up short in extending Castellanos, “he might be a guy that we stick with,” commented Avila, who noted that the soon-to-be 26-year-old’s stock would increase “quite a bit” if he were to make a successful transition to the outfield.  McCann is under control for the next three years, but Avila suggested that he could be a trade candidate, per Strang. (In case you missed it, MLBTR’s Steve Adams recently examined Iglesias, Castellanos, McCann and the rest of Detroit’s potential trade chips.)
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Teams Have Inquired About Nicholas Castellanos]]> 2018-01-07T02:07:36Z 2018-01-07T02:06:12Z
  • The rebuilding Tigers have gotten inquiries about third baseman/outfielder Nicholas Castellanos from “a few teams,” Cafardo writes. Castellanos is under control for the next two years, including at a projected $7.6MM in 2018. The Tigers tried earlier this offseason to lock him up for the long haul with an extension, but those talks didn’t lead to a deal. Castellanos, who will turn 26 in March, was a bright spot for Detroit’s offense last season. Not only did he slash .272/.320/.490 with 26 home runs in 665 PAs, but Castellanos was something of a Statcast darling, evidenced by a .366 xwoBA (compared to a .347 wOBA) and the majors’ 10th-most barrels.

  • ]]>
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Tigers Agree To Minors Deal With Pete Kozma]]> 2018-01-06T05:53:20Z 2018-01-06T02:53:11Z
  • The Tigers have agreed to a minor league deal with former Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma, reports SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (on Twitter). Kozma, 30 in April, split the 2017 season between the Rangers and Yankees organizations and logged 51 plate appearances in the Majors, though he batted just .111/.200/.178 in that small sample. Long considered an excellent defender with a light bat, Kozma is a career .215/.282/.285 hitter in parts of six MLB seasons but also comes with a career +11 Defensive Runs Saved mark and +9 Ultimate Zone Rating in 1450 innings at shortstop.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Tigers Pursued Extension With Castellanos "To No Avail"]]> 2018-01-01T20:29:50Z 2018-01-01T20:26:27Z The Tigers pursued an extension with outfielder Nicholas Castellanos “to no avail” following the 2017 season,’s Jason Beck reports. The 25-year-old slugger (26 in March) posted a very solid .272/.320/.490 batting line in a breakout campaign at the plate and gave the Tigers room for further optimism; Castellanos ranked fifth in the Majors in hard-contact rate (among qualified hitters), and Statcast credited him for the 10th-highest number of barreled balls in MLB. He has a projected arbitration salary of $7.6MM, per MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz, and is still under club control for another two seasons. Defensive question marks abound with Castellanos, as he’s rated poorly both at third base and in right field, but there’s plenty of value in his bat. The inability to come to terms on an extension only furthers the chance that the rebuilding Tigers trade Castellanos before he reaches free agency.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Taking Inventory: Detroit Tigers]]> 2017-12-26T17:48:39Z 2017-12-26T17:46:34Z The Tigers have already dealt with a significant portion of their offseason business, dealing their most obvious trade candidate, Ian Kinsler, to the Angels during this month’s Winter Meetings. They’ve also filled some holes with affordable veterans, picking up Mike Fiers for the fifth spot in the rotation and adding Leonys Martin on a low-cost, one-year deal to fill center field.

    Still, the Detroit front office is hardly set to merely call it an offseason. The Tigers made clear with their trade of Kinsler and their summer trades of Justin Verlander, J.D. Martinez, Justin Upton, Justin Wilson and Alex Avila that they’re embarking on a full-scale teardown of the organization. Although those trades have strengthened a thin Tigers farm system, the team still has work to do as it builds up toward a top-of-the-line minor league system and a generally more sustainable avenue to contention than perennially shelling out $200MM+ payrolls.

    With Kinsler out of the picture, here’s a look at the remaining assets the Tigers could realistically market this winter…

    One-Year Rentals

    Jose Iglesias, SS ($5.6MM projected arbitration salary): A superlative defender at shortstop, Iglesias delivered solid offensive output in 2013-15 before his bat deteriorated in 2016-17. He’s batted just .255/.297/.353 across the past two seasons, but for a team in need of a defensive upgrade in the infield or on the bench, Iglesias would be a reasonably low-priced upgrade.

    Two Years of Control

    Nicholas Castellanos | Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

    Nicholas Castellanos, OF/3B ($7.6MM projected arb salary): Castellanos’ overall .272/.320/.490  was above-average but not outstanding. However, the former top prospect ranked fifth in the Majors in hard-contact rate (among qualified hitters), and Statcast credited him for the 10th-highest number of barreled balls in all of Major League Baseball.

    Castellanos comes with significant defensive questions, as he’s been a staggering 64 runs below average in 4400 innings at third base (per Defensive Runs Saved) and eight runs below average in just 211 innings in the outfield. He’s not exactly cheap, but the batted-ball profile could make him intriguing to a team that believes he could improve with additional reps in the outfield.

    Alex Wilson, RHRP ($2.1MM projected arb salary): The 31-year-old righty is coming off the worst season of his career (4.50 ERA, 6.3 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, 1.05 HR/9, 41.6 percent ground-ball rate), but he was a quality bullpen piece for the Red Sox and Tigers from 2014-16. During that time, Wilson logged a 2.47 ERA in 171 1/3 innings of work, albeit with a pedestrian 5.6 K/9 mark against a more encouraging 1.9 BB/9 clip. He’s no stranger to working multi-inning stints and represents an affordable middle relief option.

    Longer-Term Assets

    Michael Fulmer, SP (pre-arbitration): Fulmer, obviously, would command the largest return of anyone the Tigers could make available. The 2016 AL Rookie of the Year is controlled for another five full seasons and won’t reach arbitration until next winter, when he qualifies for Super Two status. Fulmer was carrying a 3.06 ERA and 3.24 FIP with 6.3 K/9, 2.0 BB/9, 0.51 HR/9 and a 50.4 percent ground-ball rate through his first 123 2/3 innings this season before his production fell off a cliff. He ultimately underwent surgery to repair the ulnar nerve in his right arm in mid-September, bringing his sophomore season to a close.

    Michael Fulmer | Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

    The Tigers could extract a king’s ransom for Fulmer, though some teams may be wary of paying top dollar (in terms of prospects) for a pitcher coming off elbow surgery without first seeing that he’s rebounded to an extent. There’s little urgency to trade Fulmer when he can be controlled for the next half decade, but the dearth of high-quality arms available on the trade market could motivate a club to put together a massive offer.

    Shane Greene, RHRP ($1.7MM projected arb salary, controlled through 2020): Greene showed plenty to like in his first full season as a reliever, averaging 9.7 K/9 with a 47.4 percent ground-ball rate and a heater that averaged 95 mph en route to a 2.66 ERA through 67 2/3 innings. However, he also posted just an 8.6 percent swinging-strike rate, averaged 4.5 walks per nine and allowed a huge 41.3 percent hard-contact rate. That’s not ideal for a late-inning reliever, of course, though Greene’s strong spin rate on his slider (which ranked 20th of 173 relievers who threw the pitch at least 100 times) could give teams optimism that there’s some untapped potential.

    James McCann, C ($2.3MM rojected arb salary, controlled through 2020): McCann won’t turn 28 until next summer, and he’s coming off the best offensive season of his career, having slashed .253/.318/.415 with a career-best 13 homers. He’s long had his share of struggles against righties, but the right-handed-hitting McCann has absolutely obliterated left-handed pitching in his career, as evidenced by a .287/.346/.538 batting line (including .298/.371/.558 in 2017). McCann has thrown out 37 percent of would-be base thieves in his career, though he drew poor marks from Baseball Prospectus for his pitch framing and blocking in 2017. (He was solid in both regards in 2016.) A contender in need of an upgrade behind the dish (e.g. the Nationals) could try to pry McCann away from the Tigers, as he almost certainly won’t be a part of the next competitive Detroit club.

    Mikie Mahtook, OF (pre-arbitration): The Tigers have only had Mahtook for one year, having successfully bought low on the former first-rounder last February in a trade with the Rays. The 28-year-old batted .276/.330/.457 through 379 trips to the plate with Detroit. Mahtook has played all three outfield spots, and while most metrics aren’t kind to him in center field, he’s drawn solid UZR marks in the corners (DRS doesn’t care for his glovework anywhere, while Statcast pegged him as a neutral defender in 2017). Detroit can hang onto him for another four years, so there’s no rush to move him. The return, at present, would probably be fairly minimal. However, another solid year — perhaps with greater playing time — could bolster intrigue.

    Miguel Cabrera, 1B/DH (six years, $192MM remaining): It’s almost unfathomable to envision a Cabrera trade on the heels of a .249/.329/.399 (92 OPS+) season when he’s owed a staggering average of $32MM over the next six seasons. The former MVP was diagnosed with a pair of herniated disks in his back in September and will play next season at the age of 35. If Cabrera were a free agent right now, he’d earn a mere fraction of that remaining commitment. No one would take on his contract — all of which may be moot, as he also has full no-trade protection.

    Salary Dump Candidates

    Jordan Zimmermann (three years, $74MM remaining; full no-trade clause), Victor Martinez (one year, $18MM remaining; full no-trade clause)

    The Tigers would love to shed either of these contracts, but it’s difficult to see any takers lining up — especially for Zimmermann. Detroit can hold out some hope that Zimmermann will rebound in 2018, which would position him as a more plausible trade candidate after the 2018 season, when his no-trade provision drops from all 29 other teams to a limited 10-team clause. That’s a lot to expect, though, considering his diminished velocity, strikeout rate and ground-ball rate (to say nothing of a skyrocketing home run rate).

    Martinez, meanwhile, just turned 39 years old and is coming off a season in which he hit just .255/.324/.372 and was limited to 435 plate appearances, in part due to a pair of DL stints for an irregular heartbeat. His value is at an all-time low, and he’s been mentioned as a speculative release candidate more than a potential trade piece.

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Latest on Gerrit Cole]]> 2017-12-25T01:32:42Z 2017-12-25T01:31:14Z TODAY: Chance Adams and Miguel Andujar could be part of a hypothetical Yankees/Pirates trade for Cole, Kristie Ackert and Bill Madden of the New York Daily News report.  If those two prospects and Frazier are all included, that could mean the Pirates will also include Josh Harrison in the deal.  While the Yankees have also talked to the Diamondbacks about Patrick Corbin and the Tigers about Michael Fulmer, it seems as if Cole is New York’s preferred target of the three pitchers; Corbin is under control for just the 2018 season while Detroit is putting an enormous asking price on Fulmer’s services.

    SATURDAY: A trade of Gerrit Cole doesn’t appear to be imminent at this point, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports (via Twitter). Though it seemed at one point that talks between the Yankees and Pirates were picking up momentum, Crasnick says that multiple clubs have engaged with the Pirates since the winter meetings; the prospect of a Cole trade isn’t “Yankees or bust”.

    The Yankees don’t appear to have tunnel vision on a Cole deal, either. Though the Bronx Bombers are trying to net Pittsburgh’s prized right-hander with proposals centered around Clint FrazierBill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Bombers offered similar packages to the Rays and Tigers for Chris Archer and Michael Fulmer, respectively. From my perspective, it seems as though the Yankees may not be interested in Cole specifically, but rather could have a broader objective to move the 23-year-old Frazier in exchange for pitching help. Following the club’s acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton, it appears as though Frazier is destined to be a high-ceiling depth piece for the Yankees, whose outfield picture features Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks and Stanton, with Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury also on the roster.

    In a brilliant piece for the New York Post, Joel Sherman points out that the Yankees can afford to be patient, as they did with Stanton this winter and Sonny Gray this summer. They’re not desperate for pitching right now, as their rotation is set to feature Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Gray, CC Sabathia and Jordan Montgomery. While each of those pitchers carries a question mark or two (or in Sherman’s words, “red flag possibilities”), the ballclub wouldn’t be chastised if it were to have these five in the rotation come Opening Day. Furthermore, top prospects Chance Adams and Justus Sheffield could reach the majors before long, with Adams being the more likely of the two to contribute in 2018.

    From the Pirates’ side, they don’t necessarily need another outfielder. However, it stands to reason that a trade of Cole could set off a domino effect that prompts Pittsburgh to sell off other pieces. As Brink states in a separate article (one that deals with the “what if” scenario of a Cole trade), trading the right-hander could act as “the first tug on the rope that raises the white flag on 2018.” In that case, they’d be highly likely to shop Andrew McCutchen, the 2013 NL MVP, and his hypothetical trade would mean that Frazier could suddenly become a useful piece.

    It’s unclear how serious the Pirates’ talks are with other potential suitors at this time, or even whether those clubs have made formal offers. Crasnick notes in his above tweet that a deal probably won’t come together before Christmas, but adds that trade talks could pick up again between then and New Year’s. It stands to reason that Pittsburgh could be patient for months, or even wait until the 2018 trade deadline to trade Cole (if they opt to move him at all). It will of course be far more evident how the Pirates’ playoff chances compare with those of the other NL Central clubs. However, there are plenty of reasons to move him now as well, including the high probability that clubs would be willing to pay more to have Cole for a full season, and the risk that the Yankees might acquire a different starter.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 12/21/17]]> 2017-12-21T17:58:26Z 2017-12-21T17:50:40Z We’ll cover the day’s minor moves in this post:

    • The Cubs have re-signed catcher Taylor Davis, MLBTR has learned. The 28-year-old was non-tendered after a season in which he received his first MLB call-up, staying long enough to pick up his first few base knocks but not to put down a meaningful track record. Davis strode to the Triple-A plate 406 times in 2017, producing a .297/.357/.429 batting line with six home runs. Notably, he continued to exhibit strong plate discipline and contact ability, striking out just 45 times while drawing 37 walks.

    Earlier Updates

    • Indians have agreed to a deal with right-hander Lisalverto Bonilla, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). The 27-year-old struggled badly in his ten MLB appearances last year with the Reds, working to a 8.10 ERA with 6.9 K/9 and 5.4 BB/9 while serving up eight long balls in 36 2/3 innings. He did generate a useful 11.8% swinging-strike rate, though, and has typically drawn a fair number of grounders in the minors.
    • The Nationals reached a minor-league pact with righty Chris Smith, MLBTR’s Steve Adams tweets. He gets an invitation to participate on the majors side of camp next spring. Smith, 29, got a brief taste of the majors last year with the Blue Jays, showing a 93.9 mph average four-seamer. He spent most of the year at Triple-A, where he worked to a 5.40 ERA with 6.3 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9, but Smith has recorded much higher strikeout rates in the upper minors in the past.
    • Lefty Hunter Cervenka was outrighted to Triple-A by the Marlins after clearing waivers. He had been removed from the 40-man roster recently as the organization continues to tweak its mix of MLB assets. Cervenka spent most of 2017 at the Triple-A level, where he pitched to a 4.58 ERA with 8.9 K/9 and 5.9 BB/9. That hefty walk rate has long been a problem for Cervenka, who’ll soon turn 28.
    • The Tigers announced a series of minors signings today. Lefty Will Lamb, infielder Ronny Rodriguez, and outfielders Jason Krizan and Kenny Wilson are all joining the Detroit organization, with Krizan and Rodriguez also taking spring invites. Lamb, 27, has struggled to a 6.06 ERA in 120 1/3 career Triple-A frames, but owns a 2.28 ERA in 90 2/3 innings at the penultimate level of the minors. The 25-year-old Rodriguez brings some infield versatility and pop to the table; he hit .291/.324/.454 with 17 home runs in 483 plate appearances last year at the Indians’ top affiliate. Krizan, 28, will return for his eighth year in the Detroit system; in 2017, he hit .281/.351/.417 in 480 upper-minors plate appearances. Wilson, who’ll soon turn 28 as well, is a speed-and-defense type who has not yet hit enough to earn his way into the big leagues.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Tigers Preferred Mets' Kinsler Package To Angels]]> 2017-12-18T20:08:34Z 2017-12-18T20:08:34Z
  • The Tigers preferred the package of prospects that the Mets were willing to offer for Ian Kinsler to the package they received from the Angels, writes Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press. However, Kinsler would only waive his no-trade clause to approve a trade to the Angels, forcing GM Al Avila’s hand. Though Avila could’ve waited, Fenech opines that the GM made the right call to act when there was a trade scenario on the table rather than to wait for something unforeseen to arise. Meanwhile, Kinsler tells Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register that Justin Upton has been recruiting him since being traded to the Angels in August, and the Halos’ success in the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes caught his attention as well: “Making moves this winter to push for the next level … That motivates a player like me.”
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Tigers Sign Ronny Rodriguez To Minor League Contract]]> 2017-12-17T00:17:10Z 2017-12-17T00:14:21Z
  • Utilityman Ronny Rodriguez announced on Instagram that he’s joining the Tigers on a minor league deal (h/t: Evan Woodbery of Rodriguez had spent his entire pro career with the division-rival Indians since signing out of the Dominican Republic in 2010. He never cracked the majors with the Tribe, though, instead topping out at Triple-A. The 25-year-old played at the minors’ highest level from 2016-17 and hit a respectable .274/.308/.427 in 971 PAs. Rodriguez has seen action at every position but pitcher, catcher and left field during his minor league career, as Woodbery notes.
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    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Multiple Teams Interested In Fernando Rodney]]> 2017-12-14T12:00:51Z 2017-12-14T11:42:11Z 5:42am: The Rangers and Diamondbacks are also in the mix for Rodney, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports tweets.

    5:18am: It’s expected that the Tigers will meet with free agent reliever Fernando Rodney at some point, Jason Beck of reports. They’ll have at least some level of competition; Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press adds that the Twins are in the mix for Rodney as well. Interestingly, Berardino notes that Rodney also met with a Nippon Professional Baseball team, though it appears he’s taken that option off the table.

    Detroit has seen many a lead slip through their fingers in recent years due to bullpen implosions. While Rodney falls short of elite, he’d certainly provide an upgrade to the only bullpen in baseball that finished below replacement level this past season. While Shane Greene was somewhat of a bright spot, the Tigers don’t seem to have many stable relievers beyond him on the depth chart. The rebuilding Tigers probably won’t go after marquee free agent relievers like Greg Holland or Wade Davis, but Rodney would be a cost-effective target who could probably be had on a one-year deal. Detroit is plenty familiar with the right-hander, as he spent the first eight years of his MLB career with the organization.

    Likewise, the Twins’ bullpen finished in the bottom third in most of the important pitching categories. Unlike the Tigers, however, the Twins hope to contend next season and could therefore be more aggressive in pursuit of bullpen help. Just yesterday they were said to have made an offer to a free agent reliever, and one would assume they’re inquiring on plenty of others.

    Rodney will enter the 2018 season at 41 years of age. As Berardino notes in his tweet, he’s number three on the list of active saves leaders. Last season with the Diamondbacks, the righty saved 39 games, albeit with a 4.23 ERA. The scariest thing about putting Rodney on the mound is his tendency to issue free passes; the righty has walked a batter nearly every other inning on average over the past five years (4.44 BB/9).

    Since his MLB debut in 2002, Rodney has pitched for eight different major league clubs. Most of that time was spent with the Tigers, who originally signed him out of the Dominican Republic.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Al Avila: "I Had No Leverage" With Ian Kinsler]]> 2017-12-14T05:49:15Z 2017-12-14T05:49:15Z
  • Just-acquired Angels second baseman Ian Kinsler was only willing to waive his 10-team no-trade clause for them, Tigers general manager Al Avila told reporters. Avila added that he had talks with three other teams on Kinsler’s no-trade list Wednesday, noting that he “had no leverage” because of the second baseman’s limited NTC. The executive’s not upset with Kinsler, though, as he realizes the player was fully within his rights prevent certain deals from happening (all Twitter links via Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press and Evan Woodbery of
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Trade Chatter: Nats, Rays, Fulmer, Reds, Jays, Braves, Giants, Yelich, Phils]]> 2017-12-14T03:45:12Z 2017-12-14T03:44:39Z Looking to improve an already enviable rotation, the Nationals have Rays right-handers Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi on their radar, Jon Heyman of FanRag reports (via Twitter). Either would cost far less in terms of salary than free agent Jake Arrieta will, and Heyman notes that the Nats are unsure if they’d be able to afford Arrieta. Heyman also points to Diamondbacks righty Zack Greinke as a possibility for the Nats; however, he’s not exactly cheap, with $138.5MM coming his way through 2021.

    More on the trade front:

    • The Tigers “will only entertain lopsided offers” for righty Michael Fulmer, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter link). A trade involving the highly coveted 24-year-old doesn’t look likely, then.
    • The Blue Jays are interested in Reds outfielders Billy Hamilton and Adam Duvall, per reports from Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet (via Twitter) and Jays Journal. The Braves also have interest in the 29-year-old Duvall, tweets Heyman. Duvall, a 30-home run hitter in each of the previous two seasons, is controllable for the next four years. He won’t be arbitration eligible until next winter.
    • The Giants’ own interest in Hamilton continues, but Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweets that the chatter with the Reds has “faded significantly” of late. Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer adds on Twitter that the Giants are the most serious suitors for Hamilton, but they’re “at a bit of a standoff” with the Reds. San Francisco still has interest in free agent Jay Bruce, per Rosenthal, and Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets that Bruce is the top name on San Francisco’s “wish list.” Still, the club has not made him an offer to this point.
    • It’s up in the air whether the Marlins will trade center fielder Christian Yelich. Either way, the Phillies will continue to monitor his availability, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia relays. Meanwhile, they’ve “been aggressive” in shopping shortstop Freddy Galvis, according to Salisbury, who adds (via Twitter) that the Angels “really liked” second baseman Cesar Hernandez before they acquired Ian Kinsler. The Halos didn’t want to meet the Phillies’ asking price for Hernandez, however.
    • The Red Sox asked about Marcell Ozuna before the Cardinals acquired him, but they did not have the sort of pitching assets the Marlins were for, Dombrowski told reporters including the Globe’s Peter Abraham (Twitter link.) The Indians also inquired about Ozuna, Paul Hoynes of writes.
    • In addition to Chase Headley, the Padres are dangling infielder Yangervis Solarte in chatter with rival organizations, Heyman reports on Twitter. Solarte, 30, is controllable for the next three years at affordable costs (a guaranteed $4MM in 2018 and then club options totaling $13.5MM for 2019-20).
    • The Blue Jays were another team with interest in Kinsler before Wednesday’s trade, Nicholson-Smith tweets. Toronto was on Kinsler’s 10-team no-trade list, so it’s unclear how open he’d have been to going there.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Angels Acquire Ian Kinsler]]> 2017-12-14T05:01:33Z 2017-12-14T02:45:34Z The Angels have acquired second baseman Ian Kinsler from the Tigers for two prospects, right-hander Wilkel Hernandez and outfielder Troy Montgomery. Kinsler could have taken advantage of his 10-team no-trade clause to block the move, but he’ll instead make Anaheim the third destination of his major league career. The Angels will pay Kinsler’s entire $11MM salary in 2018, his last year of team control.

    [RELATED: Updated Angels Depth Chart]

    Ian Kinsler

    The Kinsler acquisition is the third major move of the offseason for the Angels, who missed the playoffs for the third straight year in 2017. General manager Billy Eppler has worked diligently this winter to bolster his team’s roster around the game’s top player, center fielder Mike Trout. The Halos previously kept left fielder Justin Upton from leaving via the open market and signed the No. 1 free agent of the offseason, two-way Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani, and they may be on the verge of landing a third baseman next.

    Kinsler is unlikely to make the type of impact Upton (his former Tigers teammate) or Ohtani will in 2018, during which he’ll turn 36. But he’ll nonetheless provide the Angels a steady option at the keystone to team with world-class shortstop Andrelton Simmons up the middle. Angels second basemen hit a putrid .207/.274/.318 in 2017, so finding outside help for the position was a must for Eppler this offseason. Kinsler’s lifetime output suggests he’ll serve as a sizable upgrade over the second basemen the Angels ran out last year.

    A longtime Ranger and Tiger, the right-handed Kinsler has combined to slash .273/.342/.447 with 234 home runs and 224 stolen bases across 7,484 plate appearances, and the four-time All-Star has also offered quality work in the field during his career (108 Defensive Runs Saved, 40.4 Ultimate Zone Rating). Kinsler’s offensive numbers went backward in 2017 as he hit a career-worst .236/.313/.412 in 613 PAs, but he still belted 22 homers and stole 14 bases. Further, his defensive prowess (6 DRS, 6.6 UZR) helped lead to a 2.4 fWAR. That also represents a career low, though it’s still a respectable figure, and the Angels would likely sign up for similar production in 2018 at Kinsler’s price tag.

    While the Tigers’ return for Kinsler doesn’t look significant, it’s still not a shock that they’ve moved on from him. They’re in the incipient stages of a major rebuild, making Kinsler a superfluous piece, and GM Al Avila revealed earlier this week that a deal involving the vet was likely to occur. Moving Kinsler leaves the Tigers with 38 players on their 40-man roster, giving them room to add a couple more via Thursday’s Rule 5 draft. Detroit has the first overall pick.

    Between Hernandez and Montgomery, the latter ranked higher on’s list of Angels prospects (No. 20 to Hernandez’s No. 24). The outlet notes that the 23-year-old Montgomery, an eighth-round pick in 2016, possesses “a very advanced approach at the plate,” “plus speed” and “above-average defense” at every outfield spot. The lefty-swinger divided last season among Single-A, High-A and Double-A, hitting .271/.358/.413 in 434 PAs.

    The 18-year-old Hernandez, who signed out of Venezuela for $125K in 2015, spent last season at the rookie level and pitched to a 2.28 ERA, with 8.8 K/9 against 4.4 BB/9, in 59 1/3 innings (17 appearances, 12 starts). The 6-foot-3 Hernandez is a promising hurler who can hit 95 mph at times, according to, though he needs work when it comes to repeating his delivery, throwing strikes and improving his breaking ball.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported that the Angels would acquire Kinsler, and he was first to report the trade had been finalized. Katie Strang of The Athletic reported the Tigers would get two prospects. Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reported the prospects involved. Jason Beck of reported the Angels would take on Kinsler’s salary.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Details On Ian Kinsler’s No-Trade Clause]]> 2017-12-13T19:10:39Z 2017-12-13T18:57:40Z 12:57pm: Sherman has now tweeted the full list, reporting that the Yankees, Dodgers, Athletics, Padres, Giants, Rays, and Blue Jays are also teams to which Kinsler can block a move.

    9:28am: It has long been anticipated that the Tigers will attempt to deal veteran second baseman Ian Kinsler, who’ll play for a reasonable $11MM salary. Indeed, the organization has made no secret of its intentions to hear offers to cash in one of its few clear trade assets.

    As in the past, though, Kinsler’s partial no-trade rights could become a factor. According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, Kinsler has the right to block deals to three teams that seem to be quite sensible matches on paper: the Mets, Angels, and Brewers.

    Indeed, the Halos may well be targeting Kinsler in particular. According to’s Jerry Crasnick, via Twitter, the Los Angeles organization has clear interest and may even be prioritizing Kinsler as it continues to search for an upgrade at second. At this point, there’s little clarity on how Kinsler will utilize his rights, though Sherman does note that he seems inclined to okay a deal to Los Angeles.

    Of course, it’s unlikely that Kinsler is thrilled at the prospect of spending the season with the rebuilding Tigers rather than suiting up for a contender. And he has seemingly expressed an interest in just that. There were past indications that Kinsler would seek to use his no-trade clause to gain contract inducements, though he also downplayed that consideration at the time.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Tigers, Rangers Not Making Progress In Fulmer Talks]]> 2017-12-13T05:47:42Z 2017-12-13T05:47:42Z
  • The Rangers are one of the teams known to have contacted the Tigers about Michael Fulmer, though Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Fress Press reports that the two sides haven’t gotten very far in negotiations.  Fulmer’s ability and years of team control make him an attractive target for any club, especially the pitching-needy Rangers, though the Tigers have naturally put a huge asking price on their young righty.
  • ]]>
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Tigers Interested In Fernando Rodney]]> 2017-12-13T03:12:03Z 2017-12-13T03:12:03Z
  • Fernando Rodney’s name has been increasingly mentioned in recent days, with the Mets and Tigers the latest teams to express interest in the veteran reliever, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets.  New York and Detroit join the previously-reported Twins, Diamondbacks and Rangers as candidates for Rodney’s services.  Rodney posted solid numbers as Arizona’s closer last season, and likely wouldn’t require a multi-year commitment given that he turns 41 in March.  Detroit could install him at closer with Shane Greene moving back to a setup role, and Rodney could also become a trade chip for the rebuilding Tigers at the deadline.  Rodney might not close with the Mets, but he would further augment a back-of-the-pen mix that includes Jeurys Familia, AJ Ramos and Jerry Blevins.
  • Francisco Rodriguez is hoping to keep pitching for his 17th big league season, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman writes.  After years as an effective closer, K-Rod suffered through a disastrous 2017 campaign that saw him post a 7.82 ERA over 25 1/3 IP for the Tigers.  He pitched in the Nationals’ farm system on a minor league deal before being released last July.
  • ]]>
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Tigers Notes: Kinsler, Second Base, Greene]]> 2017-12-12T23:06:40Z 2017-12-12T23:06:40Z
  • The Ian Kinsler trade talks have reached the point where the Tigers have exchanged names with interested teams, GM Al Avila told reporters (including Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press and’s Evan Woodbery).  Kinsler has been seen as one of the likeliest players to be dealt this offseason, and it seems like a trade could happen at any point.  The Mets, Brewers, and Angels are teams with reported recent interest in Kinsler’s services.  Should Kinsler be traded, Avila said the Tigers would likely sign a veteran “safety net” second baseman to compete with Dixon Machado in Spring Training, with Woodbery noting that such a veteran would probably be a minor league signing.
  • The Tigers are also getting some calls on Shane Greene, Avila said (hat tip to’s Jason Beck).  Greene’s first full-time season as a reliever delivered some good results, and he even recorded nine saves after stepping into the closer’s role in August.  While Greene would be another good trade chip for the rebuilding Tigers, Avila said the interest in Greene was “not to the point where we felt it [a trade] was a good thing to do.”
  • ]]>
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Yankees Considering Michael Fulmer, Patrick Corbin In Trade Talks]]> 2017-12-12T15:42:48Z 2017-12-12T15:42:48Z The Yankees are among the teams with interest in Tigers righty Michael Fulmer, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). New York also has considered Diamondbacks lefty Patrick Corbin, per the report.

    Clearly, the Yanks are interested in finding a rotation upgrade, as the club was also linked yesterday to Pirates righty Gerrit Cole. Currently, the first four members of the staff seem set: Masahiro Tanaka, Luis Severino, Sonny Gray, and Jordan Montgomery. But the fifth slot is much less settled.

    [RELATED: Yankees, TigersDiamondbacks Depth Charts]

    While the Bronx powerhouse is still committed to remaining under the luxury tax line for 2018, the club obviously sees some ways to fit high-quality hurlers into the payroll. Of course, GM Brian Cashman is also reportedly looking into moving some existing salary to open yet more space.

    Fulmer and Corbin each represent quite different assets. There’s some reason to believe that either could be made available, but for differing reasons.

    With regard to Fulmer, he’s one of the most intriguing young starters in baseball. The 24-year-old is on track to qualify for Super Two status next year but won’t be a free agent until 2023. And he has already turned in 323 2/3 innings of 3.45 ERA pitching in his first two MLB seasons. While offseason surgery to deal with a nerve issue in his elbow may give some pause, that particular procedure does not seem to come with significant future concern. Accordingly, the asking price is expected to be astronomical, even if the Tigers will hear out teams with interest.

    As for Corbin, the D-Backs are in a tight payroll situation that will present challenges as they seek to return to the postseason. GM Mike Hazen indicates yesterday that a “creative” approach will be required, as’s Steve Gilbert notes on Twitter. With Corbin projected by MLBTR to take home a $8.3MM payday via arbitration, he could be a useful trade piece, perhaps bringing back pieces that could fill other needs while also freeing up some spending money. The 28-year-old southpaw turned in a solid 2017 campaign, running up 189 2/3 innings of 4.03 ERA ball with 8.4 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9. While Arizona would surely prefer to retain Corbin, they have four other strong rotation pieces on hand along with a few internal candidates to battle for a spot.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Rangers Have Inquired On Michael Fulmer, Marcell Ozuna]]> 2017-12-12T15:25:18Z 2017-12-12T15:25:18Z After missing on Shohei Ohtani, the Rangers are spreading a wide net in search of improvements. The latest word is that they have asked about two of the top potential trade assets on this winter’s market.

    Texas is one of several teams to have inquired on the availability of Tigers righty Michael Fulmer, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News (via Twitter). Grant also discussed the possibility earlier, noting some of the many complications but also the fact that Detroit seems willing to entertain offers. The pre-arb righty is recovering from nerve transposition surgery but has an early-career track record that will support a massive asking price from the rebuilding Tigers.

    And while the club has alternatives on hand to play the outfield, the Rangers have also put out feelers with the Marlins regarding Marcell Ozuna, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). Ozuna is projected by MLBTR to earn a hefty $10.9MM in his second-to-last trip through arbitration, but that’s still a bargain rate after his breakout 2017 campaign. For the cost-cutting Marlins, though, now may well be the time to move Ozuna — so long as the team can secure an appropriately significant return.

    Of course, it’s important to bear in mind that the Rangers have also been connected to a wide variety of others in recent days. On the pitching side, that includes free agents Yu Darvish (link) and Alex Cobb (link) as well as possible trade candidates Gerrit Cole (link) and Matt Harvey (link). And Texas is reportedly among the many teams still in on free agent first baseman Carlos Santana (link).

    The broader takeaway, then, seems to be that the Rangers are engaged in a broad effort to find a high-quality player or two to bolster their roster. With several areas susceptible of improvement, and also perhaps some flexibility with some existing pieces, it’s still possible to imagine the roster developing in any number of different ways.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Tigers Unlikely To Extend Nicholas Castellanos]]> 2017-12-12T04:25:46Z 2017-12-12T04:25:46Z
  • The Tigers engaged in contract extension talks with outfielder/third baseman Nicholas Castellanos’ agent after the season, but they haven’t had any discussions since, general manager Al Avila told reporters Monday. It looks unlikely the two sides will reach an agreement, per Jason Beck of (Twitter link). As things stand, the soon-to-be 26-year-old Castellanos is controllable for just two more seasons. The former top prospect will make a projected $7.6MM in arbitration in 2018, when he’ll try for a third straight above-average offensive showing. Castellanos, who slugged a career-best 26 home runs last season, has batted .277/.325/.493 with 44 HRs in 1,112 plate appearances since 2016.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[FA Rumors: LoMo, Rox, Hunter, Mets, Kintzler, Brewers, O’s, Tigers, Jays]]> 2017-12-11T23:41:02Z 2017-12-11T23:41:02Z The latest free agent rumors…

    • Contrary to a report from Sunday, the Rockies haven’t had any discussions about signing first baseman Logan Morrison, per Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post (Twitter link).
    • Reliever Tommy Hunter has emerged as a “prime target” for the Mets in their search for bullpen help, according to Marc Carig of Newsday (on Twitter). The 31-year-old right-hander was quietly excellent over 58 2/3 innings with the Rays in 2017, recording a 2.61 ERA and putting up 9.82 K/9 against 2.15 BB/9.
    • Count the Diamondbacks among those interested in reliever Brandon Kintzler, tweets ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, who expects the former Twins closer to land a two-year deal. Kintzler suggested last month that his wife is rooting for him to sign with Arizona. The Twins continue to monitor him, and they’ve also checked in on almost every other available pitcher, chief baseball officer Derek Falvey revealed (Twitter link via Rhett Bollinger of
    • Brewers GM David Stearns said Monday that he’s likely to “cross paths” at the Winter Meetings with the agents for second baseman Neil Walker and reliever Anthony Swarzak, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweets. Walker and Swarzak ended last season with the Brewers after coming over in trades and performed quite well during their short stints in Milwaukee.
    • Although the Orioles badly need starters, they’re not inclined to dole out long deals. GM Dan Duquette suggested to Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun and other reporters Monday that four- to five-year pacts for pitchers generally don’t work out well (Twitter link). On the other hand, Duquette hasn’t closed the door on re-signing righty Chris Tillman, who figures to be an affordable, short-term pickup after enduring a dreadful 2017 (Twitter link via Roch Kubatko of
    • As is the case with Baltimore, the Tigers are in the market for a starter who won’t require a long commitment, GM Al Avila informed reporters (via Evan Woodbery of, on Twitter). Detroit is open to reeling in another starter on a one-year deal to join the just-signed Mike Fiers.
    • The Blue Jays are engaging with multiple starters and relievers, GM Ross Atkins told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet and other reporters Monday. They “will most likely add an infielder,” too, and are looking at outfielders, Atkins said (Twitter link).
    • The Rangers are considering signing catcher Rene Rivera, per Jon Heyman of FanRag (Twitter link). The righty-hitting Rivera, who was with the Mets and Cubs last year, batted .252/.305/.431 in 237 plate appearances. Behind the plate, he caught an excellent 38 percent of would-be base stealers (10 percent above the league average) and, as has been the case for most of his career, held his own as a framer.
    • Right-hander Jesse Chavez appears likely to sign this week, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes tweets. The 34-year-old Chavez spent last season with the Angels and posted an ugly 5.35 ERA across 138 innings and 38 appearances (21 starts), though he did log acceptable strikeout and walk rates (7.76 K/9, 2.93 BB/9).
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Trade Chatter: Machado, Phils, Yanks, Bucs, Cole, Ellsbury, Tigers, Brewers]]> 2017-12-12T21:23:43Z 2017-12-11T22:59:07Z Should the Orioles decide to trade superstar third baseman Manny Machado prior to 2018, his contract year, they could find a taker in Philadelphia. The Phillies are among “the more interested parties” in Machado, Roch Kubatko of reports. The Orioles have studied the Phillies’ farm system in the event of a deal, and they now “covet” right-hander Sixto Sanchez (Baseball America’s 61st-best prospect), per Kubatko. Second base prospect Scott Kingery and major league shortstop Freddy Galvis could also be involved in a potential trade, Kubatko writes. But a swap would require a 72-hour window for the Phillies to extend the 25-year-old Machado, according to Kubatko, and hammering out an agreement could be a tall order given that he’s so close to hitting the open market.

    More of the latest trade chatter:

    • The Yankees reportedly came away from talks with the Pirates with the impression that they won’t move righty Gerrit Cole. However, the Pirates are at least willing to listen to offers for Cole, per Buster Olney of ESPN (Twitter link). The Yankees and Bucs match up well for a potential Cole trade, sources tell Olney, who notes that Bombers general manager Brian Cashman and the Pirates’ Neal Huntington have swung plenty of deals in the past.
    • In the wake of the Giancarlo Stanton acquisition, the Yankees are loaded with outfielders. Although that seems to be bad news for Jacoby Ellsbury, who’s toward the bottom of the Yankees’ current outfield depth chart, he’s still “unlikely” to waive his no-trade clause, Mark Feinsand of tweets. The belief is that the Yankees would eat roughly half of the $68MM to jettison Ellsbury, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag, but it could be a moot point if he’s unwilling to go anywhere. And Cashman said Monday that Ellsbury “has a spot on the roster” and “will compete to take his job back,” Alex Speier of the Boston Globe relays (Twitter link). On the other hand, if the Yankees make 23-year-old outfielder Clint Frazier available, the Athletics would unquestionably have interest, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports (via Twitter). However, the price to acquire Frazier would likely be too high, Slusser adds.
    • The Tigers expect to deal second baseman Ian Kinsler, GM Al Avila told Evan Woodbery of and other reporters (Twitter link). Meanwhile, they’ve gotten “mild inquiries” on arguably their most valuable trade chip – righty Michael Fulmer – but they’re not actively shopping him (via Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press, on Twitter). “There are a handful of teams out there that have the players to do it, but we have not come close to those conversations,” Avila said of a potential Fulmer trade (Twitter link via Jason Beck of
    • While the Brewers are listening to offers for outfielder Domingo Santana, there’s not a lot of traction in trade talks, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN tweets. The Brewers want “an affordable impact starter” for Santana, Crasnick suggests. GM David Stearns told reporters Monday that “if we’re going to even consider trading someone who is such an important part of our team, we are going to expect a sizable return” (via Adam McCalvy of, on Twitter).