Detroit Tigers – MLB Trade Rumors 2018-05-21T19:04:30Z WordPress Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Tigers Getting Trade Calls About Francisco Liriano]]> 2018-05-21T04:57:07Z 2018-05-21T04:55:54Z
  • Even prior to Francisco Liriano’s gem of a start against the Mariners today, the Tigers have been getting trade inquiries about the veteran lefty, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports (Twitter link).  After signing a one-year, $4MM deal with Detroit last winter, Liriano earned a job in the rotation and now has a 3.42 ERA, 6.32 K/9, and 45.1% grounder rate through 52 2/3 innings.  It’s a nice improvement on paper from the struggles Liriano endured as a starter in 2017 and much of 2016, though there are some red flags — the lack of strikeouts, a 9.7% swinging strike rate, a 4.44 BB/9, and a .214 BABIP.  Interested teams could be looking at acquiring Liriano to work out of the bullpen, as the Astros did when they acquired the southpaw in a deadline trade with the Blue Jays last year.  Regardless, it looks like the Tigers should be able to score a decent prospect for their investment in Liriano in the offseason.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Braves Claim Chad Bell]]> 2018-05-15T19:25:36Z 2018-05-15T18:27:04Z The Braves have claimed lefty Chad Bell off waivers from the Tigers, per announcements from the teams. He had been designated for assignment recently by the Tigers.

    Bell, 29, has been knocked around in 69 2/3 MLB innings over the past two seasons. He has worked mostly as a reliever in the majors but has started for the most part in the minors. Odds are he’ll be seen as a lefty specialist or long relief possibility in Atlanta. Bell will presumably begin his tenure there on optional assignment.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Tigers Place Jeimer Candelario On DL, Recall Dawel Lugo]]> 2018-05-14T20:03:36Z 2018-05-14T19:54:38Z The Tigers have placed third baseman Jeimer Candelario on the 10-day disabled list, reports Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter links). Candelario had previously undergone an MRI on his left wrist, though that exam reportedly came back clear of any structural damage. Rather, he’s been placed on the DL due to tendinitis in that ailing left wrist, per Jason Beck of (on Twitter).

    It would appear that prospect Dawel Lugo, the centerpiece of last July’s J.D. Martinez trade, has been recalled from Triple-A Toledo to take his spot on the active roster, as Fenech adds that Lugo’s name is on the lineup card.

    [Related: Detroit Tigers depth chart]

    Candelario, 24, has been one of the bright spots for the rebuilding Tigers in 2018. Acquired in last summer’s trade that sent Justin Wilson and Alex Avila to the Cubs, the switch-hitting third baseman is hitting .272/.359/.497 with five homers, 12 doubles and three triples through 167 plate appearances as Detroit’s everyday third baseman.

    Lugo, 23, was acquired alongside Sergio Alcantara and Jose King from the Diamondbacks in exchange for the final couple months of control over Martinez. It was viewed as a largely underwhelming return for one of the game’s top sluggers, even if he was a rental, and Lugo’s play in Toledo thus far hasn’t exactly dispelled that notion. While he’s hitting .284 on the season, that solid average comes with just a .287 on-base percentage and a .369 slugging percentage. Lugo has walked just once in 143 plate appearances against 20 strikeouts, and he’s collected just nine extra-base hits — one homer, one triple and seven doubles.

    Entering the season, ranked Lugo 12th among Tigers farmhands, noting that the organization’s hope is that Lugo could be an everyday second baseman but adding that he may settle in as a bat-first utility option. Lugo has played lined up primarily at second base this season, but he has more than 1700 innings of action at the hot corner in his minor league career, so he could certainly step in at the hot corner in place of Candelario while he is sidelined.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Tigers Release James Russell]]> 2018-05-14T19:21:28Z 2018-05-14T19:21:28Z
  • Southpaw James Russell was released by the Tigers, Eddy reports. The 32-year-old Russell, a fixture in the Cubs’ bullpen for six seasons, hasn’t appeared in the Majors since an unsuccessful 2016 stint with the Phillies. He spent the 2017 season pitching in the Mexican League, where he performed quite well, but tossed just three innings and allowed five runs with the Tigers’ top affiliate in 2018 before his release.

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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Jeimer Candelario Avoids Serious Wrist Injury]]> 2018-05-13T21:43:16Z 2018-05-13T21:43:57Z
  • The previously reported MRI on Tigers third baseman Jeimer Candelario’s left wrist came back clean, according to the 24-year-old (Twitter link via Jason Beck of Candelario will “try to rehab and strengthen it,” Beck writes. He was out of the lineup for the Tigers’ game against the Mariners on Sunday, though manager Ron Gardenhire said afterward that “everything’s going to be fine” (via Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press, on Twitter).
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Tigers Notes: Candelario, Zimmermann]]> 2018-05-13T18:20:38Z 2018-05-13T18:20:46Z Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano departed in the third inning Sunday after taking a pitch off the right hand from Tigers starter Blaine Hardy, Greg Johns of was among those to report. Seattle’s left to hope this isn’t a serious injury for Cano, who has slashed a robust .287/.381/.441 over the first 168 plate appearances of his age-35 campaign. Thanks in part to Cano’s efforts, the Mariners have jumped out to an encouraging 22-16 start as they attempt to break a league-worst 16-year playoff drought. The club replaced Cano on Sunday with utilityman Andrew Romine.

    • Tigers third baseman Jeimer Candelario was out of the starting lineup Sunday with a left wrist problem. The issue has bothered the 24-year-old “off and on” throughout his career, notes’s Jason Beck, who adds that Candelario will undergo an MRI (Twitter links). Despite his balky wrist, the switch-hitting Candelario has gotten off to a terrific start this year with a .272/.359/.497 line and five home runs in 167 trips to the plate. Meanwhile, teammate Jordan Zimmermann won’t come off the disabled list to make his scheduled start Wednesday, Evan Woodbery of tweets. The right-hander isn’t ready to return from the shoulder impingement that shelved him earlier this week.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Louis Coleman On Signing With Tigers]]> 2018-05-12T23:31:45Z 2018-05-12T23:31:14Z
  • Veteran reliever Louis Coleman is back in the majors after the Tigers selected his contract Saturday, though he may not be in this position if not for his college coach, Evan Woodbery of relays. A “frustrated” Coleman was unable to find a job in the offseason until he spoke with Paul Mainieri, whom he played under at LSU, a couple weeks before spring training began. Mainieri then called his friend, Tigers general manager Al Avila, who signed Coleman to a minors pact Feb. 23. “I guess they had an opening (in spring training), I don’t know. But if it wasn’t for coach and Al, I don’t know if we’d be standing here,” said the 32-year-old Coleman, who recorded a 2.40 ERA in 15 Triple-A innings before his promotion.
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    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Quick Hits: Undrafted Free Agents, Urshela, Aledmys]]> 2018-05-12T19:29:00Z 2018-05-12T19:29:00Z J.J. Cooper of Baseball America recently answered a question from a Twitter fan about undrafted free agents in MLB. It turns out that there were eight undrafted free agents on MLB rosters at the start of the year, and all eight of them were right-handed pitchers. Unlike football, where there are plenty of UDFA success stories, it’s exceedingly rare for a UDFA to produce significantly at the MLB level. Some outliers include Matt Shoemaker, Miguel Gonzalez, Darren O’Day and Kirby Yates. Of the UDFA’s currently in the majors on opening day, Tigers reliever Joe Jimenez (23 years old) and Rays pitcher Andrew Kittredge (28) are the only players below the age of 30. There are a few more fun facts in Cooper’s piece, making it well worth a full read.

    Other items of note as the Tigers and Mariners prepare for a remarkably cold double-header…

    • The Blue Jays announced earlier today that they’ve activated infielder Gio Urshela and optioned outfielder Dalton Pompey to Triple-A Buffalo. Urshela, 26, was recently acquired for cash (or a player to be named later) after the Indians designated him for assignment earlier this month; he’d been on the DL since the start of the season. While acclaimed as somewhat of a defensive wizard, Urshela carries an anemic bat and has posted a wRC+ of just 57 throughout the course of his major-league career.
    • In other Blue Jays news, shortstop Aledmys Diaz has begun throwing, says Ben Nicholson-Smith of He’s expected to begin hitting later this week. Diaz left last Sunday’s game after spraining his ankle, but it doesn’t appear as though the injury will keep him sidelined for much longer than the ten-day minimum at this point. Diaz was acquired from the Cardinals this offseason in exchange for outfielder J.B. Woodman; the shortstop has hit .216/.273/.431 so far with his new club.
    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Tigers Select Louis Coleman, Designate Chad Bell]]> 2018-05-12T16:15:30Z 2018-05-12T16:00:06Z The Tigers announced that they’ve selected the contract of right-hander Louis Coleman from Triple-A Toledo, while simultaneously designating left-hander Chad Bell for assignment. The club has also recalled left-hander Ryan Carpenter to serve as the 26th man for the second game of today’s double-header.

    Coleman’s certainly done enough to earn his recent promotion. The Tigers signed him to a minor-league deal late this offseason, and he’s rewarded them with 15 innings of 2.40 ERA ball at the club’s Triple-A affiliate, striking out 15 and walking five.

    It’s actually somewhat curious that it took so long for Coleman to make it back to the majors. Back in 2016, the righty struggled somewhat out of the Dodgers’ pen (4.69 ERA, 4.50 BB/9). But between the Triple-A affiliates of the Reds and Diamondbacks last season, he pitched to a 2.25 ERA with an impressive 10.83 K/9, albeit still with a bloated walk rate. That he’s managed to walk only three batters per nine so far this season is encouraging, particularly for a club in rebuild mode that’s no doubt hoping to find a few diamonds in the rough.

    Conversely, it’s not hard to imagine why the Tigers would be willing to part ways with the 29-year-old Bell. The lefty’s ERA and K/9 are equal on the season (8.59). Still, his FIP (3.84) gives hope that he might be able to turn things around with another club, particularly since that unsightly ERA comes in such a small sample size (7 1/3 IP). Bell’s 44.4% ground ball rate and 2.45 BB/9 are also reasons for optimism, though surely inquiring ballclubs won’t be placing too much weight on any of the above stats in a sample size under ten innings.

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Central Notes: Reyes, R. Rodriguez, Taillon, Senzel]]> 2018-05-12T14:13:17Z 2018-05-12T14:13:17Z The presence of Rule 5 Draft pick Victor Reyes is somewhat of a strain on the Tigers’ roster. Evan Woodberry of takes an extensive look at the topic, and notes that the speedy outfielder’s most definable job so far this season has been as a pinch runner for the aging Victor Martinez. While injuries mount for Detroit, other players have been forced to shoulder a heavier workload, including Mikie Mahtook, who had to start Wednesday’s game against the Rangers despite being jet-lagged and sleep-deprived. While Reyes certainly has a bright future, Woodberry points out that he’s clearly overmatched by big-league pitching in the present; he’s only managed to collect three soft singles so far this season and has an average exit velocity below 80 MPH. In accordance with the Rule 5 boundaries, Reyes must remain on the Tigers’ 25-man roster for the entirety of the season or be returned to his former club (the Diamondbacks). Few around baseball have any doubt that his future is bright, but rostering him for the entire season could prove a significant burden for a club that’s already going to have a hard time winning baseball games.

    Onto some items from the NL Central…

    • Travis Sawchik of Fangraphs writes that the Pirates found a winning lottery ticket in the form of recent minor-league free agent Richard Rodriguez. The 28-year-old right-hander has been just about as dominant as a pitcher can be, evidenced by his 15.53 K/9 and microscopic 0.16 FIP on the young season. He’s already been worth half a win above replacement, as Sawchik points out, which is remarkable considering we’re not even halfway through May. Sawchik has plenty of other interesting facts throughout a deep look into RichRod’s dominance, including the whiff rate on his fastball, his first-pitch strike percentage and the way he’s attacking hitters.
    • In other Pirates news, right-hander Jameson Taillon exited last night’s start with a finger laceration. According to Adam Berry of, Taillon is frustrated at the freak accident and hopes it won’t cost him a start. “It just got worse and worse. It’s tough in the short term to come out of a game, but hopefully by coming out when I did, we’ve kind of mitigated it,” Taillon said. “Hopefully I won’t miss starts down the road.” The budding Pirates ace has had something of a Jekyll-and-Hyde season so far, allowing 15 earned runs in his three losses but permitting just three across his other five starts.
    • Nick Senzel’s vertigo is back, and the Reds prospect has landed on the 7-day DL as a result. Mark Sheldon of notes that Senzel hasn’t played since being removed from a May 3rd game after just one plate appearance. Vertigo is a condition that brings on dizziness spells and causes the victim to lose balance. Reds president Dick Williams told reporters recently that the club is “being very cautious” with their top-ranked prospect, and at the moment there isn’t a clear timetable for when he’ll be able to resume playing. The club has been playing Senzel at both second and third base this season in hopes of increasing his versatility and finding him a spot at the big league level.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Tigers Place Leonys Martin On 10-Day DL]]> 2018-05-09T13:37:00Z 2018-05-09T13:24:19Z
  • The Tigers announced that outfielder Leonys Martin is going on the DL, with fellow outfielder Mikie Mahtook taking his place on the active roster. A hamstring strain is the cause of the placement for Martin, who had been off to a solid start in Detroit. Thus far, he has amply justified the team’s $1.75MM investment, turning in a .294/.355/.508 slash in his 138 plate appearances. Though he has not been as effective on the bases as usual, that may just be a short-sample blip for a player who has long been excellent with his legs. And metrics view him as a quality defender in center. That could make Martin a useful trade chip come July if he’s able to get back to health and continue producing.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Tigers Notes: Wilson, Martin]]> 2018-05-09T02:10:03Z 2018-05-09T02:10:03Z
  • An MRI revealed that Tigers reliever Alex Wilson has a 95 percent tear of the plantar fascia in his right foot, reports Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter links). While that doesn’t sound like great news for the right-hander, the nearly complete tear isn’t actually as bad as one might think. One doctor to whom Fenech spoke pegged the recovery time for such an injury at a mere two to three weeks, creating some hope that the veteran righty could return in relatively short order after being placed on the DL yesterday. Wilson has managed just a 4.50 ERA in 20 innings this season, though his 16-to-6 K/BB ratio gives a bit more cause for optimism.
  • In a full column, Fenech adds that Tigers center fielder Leonys Martin is undergoing an MRI on his swollen left knee, per manager Ron Gardenhire. The issue seems to be related to a tendon in the back of Martin’s knee, though there’s no word yet as to how serious the issue or how much time he might miss. Through 138 plate appearances, Martin, who signed a one-year deal worth $1.75MM this winter, is hitting .294/.355/.508 with five home runs as Detroit’s primary leadoff hitter.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Tigers Place Jordan Zimmermann, Alex Wilson On DL; Purchase Contract Of Pete Kozma]]> 2018-05-08T03:59:22Z 2018-05-08T03:59:22Z The Tigers announced a series of roster moves this evening. Starter Jordan Zimmermann and reliever Alex Wilson are both heading to the DL. Meanwhile, the club purchased the contract of infielder Pete Kozma — with Daniel Norris moving to the 60-day DL to open a 40-man spot — and have also recalled righty Zac Reininger.

    Zimmermann is said to be dealing with a shoulder impingement, which is certainly not what anyone hoped to hear. That said, there’s no indication that it’s a terribly serious new injury for a player who has had some significant health problems of late.

    Soon to turn 32, Zimmermann has been off to another ugly start in the results department, with a 4.88 ERA over 31 1/3 innings. But there had finally been some signs of life for a pitcher who has struggled mightily since signing with Detroit. He’s carrying 9.2 K/9 against 2.6 BB/9 on the year, representing a drastic improvement over his strikeout rate in the past two campaigns. Zimmermann is earning $24MM this year and has another $50MM coming over the ensuing two seasons.

    As for Wilson, a left plantar fascia strain will sideline him for an unknown stretch. He’s carrying a 4.58 ERA in 19 2/3 frames to start the season. Though Wilson is carrying 7.3 K/9 against 2.7 BB/9, numbers that compare favorably to his career rates, he has allowed four home runs already.

    The 30-year-old Kozma is a light-hitting utility player who’ll appear in his seventh MLB campaign. Reininger, 25, is back for a second attempt at the majors after a rough debut last year. He has generally been effective thus far at Triple-A in 2018, allowing four earned runs on 18 hits and four walks, while recording 15 strikeouts, in 13 2/3 innings.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Tigers Likely Not Interested In Matt Harvey]]> 2018-05-07T00:38:05Z 2018-05-07T00:36:04Z
  • It doesn’t seem like the Tigers will be making a play for recently-designated Mets starter Matt Harvey, according to Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press.  Claiming or trading for Harvey would mean Detroit would take on at least a portion of the roughly $4.25MM Harvey is guaranteed for the rest of the season, which isn’t a fit for a rebuilding team.  (“We’re not here to spend more money,” manager Ron Gardenhire said.)  While the Tigers have a longstanding relationship with Harvey’s agent Scott Boras, the team has also generally shied away from acquiring players with notable off-the-field controversy, which makes it unlikely that the Tigers would pursue Harvey after his ten-day DFA period is over.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Tigers Place Miguel Cabrera On 10-Day DL]]> 2018-05-04T22:04:27Z 2018-05-04T22:04:27Z The Tigers have placed star slugger Miguel Cabrera on the 10-day DL with a hamstring strain, per a club announcement. Backstop Grayson Greiner has been called up to take the open spot on the active roster.

    Cabrera has endured some nicks and bruises to open the season and will now get a rest. It’s not clear at this point how long he’ll be down. A hamstring strain can vary quite a bit in seriousness; no matter the prognosis, moreover, his actual progress will largely dictate the timeline.

    The 35-year-old Cabrera has thus far now shown any ill effects when he has been in the lineup. In his 108 plate appearances, he’s slashing .323/.407/.516. Though he has managed only three long balls, he’s also carrying a healthy mix of 17 strikeouts against 14 walks.

    That output helps quiet concerns over Cabrera’s sub-par 2017 campaign. Perhaps, then, it’s still possible he’ll factor into the trade market this summer if he can make it back from the DL in time to show he’s at full speed. That said, it remains difficult to imagine just how a swap would come together given the massive remaining commitment to an aging slugger who’s only capable of taking the field at first base. Cabrera is earning $30MM this year and is promised $162MM more thereafter.

    As for Greiner, 25, he’ll get his first look at the game’s highest level. In 67 plate appearances this season at Triple-A, he owns a .259/.343/.414 batting line. Greiner was a third-round selection back in 2014.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Tigers To Select Blaine Hardy’s Contract]]> 2018-05-04T15:07:20Z 2018-05-04T15:07:20Z The Tigers are set to select the contract of left-hander Blaine Hardy from Triple-A Toledo prior to tonight’s game, reports Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press (via Twitter). Detroit outrighted the 31-year-old southpaw late in Spring Training, but his absence from the 40-man roster will only last for about a total of six weeks, it seems.

    Hardy, a regular in the Detroit relief corps over the past four seasons, notched an even 3.00 ERA with 7.6 K/9 against 2.9 BB/9 in 126 innings out of the Detroit ’pen from 2014-16 before stumbling in 2017. Last year proved to be the most difficult season of his career, as Hardy limped to a 5.94 ERA and served up seven homers in just 33 1/3 innings of work.

    Over the winter, there was talk of Hardy hoping for an opportunity to stretch out as a starter, and the Tigers have granted him that wish at the minor league level. Hardy’s first three appearances of the season were in short relief, but he’s since been stretched out over the course of four starts. The results are actually quite intriguing.

    Hardy went 3 1/3 innings in his first outing, jumped to five innings in his second start, six in his third and seven in his fourth and final start before being brought back to the Majors. More impressive, however, is the fact that he’s allowed just two earned runs over the life of those four starts and has averaged well north of a strikeout per inning. Hardy has a sparkling 0.84 ERA and a 25-to-4 K/BB ratio in 21 1/3 innings out of the Triple-A rotation, highlighted by a seven-inning, five-hit gem in which he allowed just one run and racked up 10 strikeouts without issuing a walk.

    It’s a tiny sample, to be sure, but for a lefty specialist who struggled to a near-6.00 ERA in his most recent run at the big league level, the results are somewhat astounding. At present, Detroit is running Michael Fulmer, Francisco Liriano, Matthew Boyd, Mike Fiers and Jordan Zimmermann out in the rotation, but Hardy brings a definite level of intrigue to a largely uninspiring mix of arms. There’s little reason not to give him a look in the Majors to see if he can sustain any of his surprising success at the Triple-A level — especially for a rebuilding team whose already paper-thin pitching depth took a notable hit with the news that Daniel Norris will be out for up to 12 weeks.

    Jason Martinez <![CDATA[Knocking Down The Door: Fowler, Guerrero, Staumont, Stewart, Urias]]> 2018-05-01T22:54:40Z 2018-05-01T22:20:53Z “Knocking Down the Door” is a regular feature that identifies minor leaguers who are making a case for a big league promotion.  

    Dustin Fowler, CF, Athletics (Triple-A Nashville) | Athletics Depth Chart

    Despite a devastating leg injury that occurred during the first inning of his MLB debut last June, many still expected Fowler to be the starting center fielder on Opening Day. While health did not appear to be a major factor—he had 47 plate appearances in 19 games this spring—the 23-year-old was understandably rusty at the plate. He hit just .222 with two walks and 13 strikeouts in the Cactus League. As a result, his Oakland A’s debut would have to wait until he began to show the form that catapulted him up prospect lists with the Yankees last season (.871 OPS, 13 HR, 19 2B, 8 3B, 13 SB in 70 Triple-A games). If the last seven games are any indication, he is getting close.

    With 14 hits in his past 33 at-bats, including his first two homers of the season, a trio of three-hit games, three doubles and a pair of triples, Fowler has boosted his batting average over the .300 mark. He also has six stolen bases, which is a good indication that he’s recovered from his injury. The versatile Mark Canha has been productive while getting the majority of starts in center field as of late, but he’ll move back into a part-time role once Fowler arrives.

    Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B, Blue Jays (Double-A New Hampshire) | Blue Jays Depth Chart

    A 19-year-old with only a few weeks of Double-A experience has no business being on this list. Or being this good, even if his father is a Hall of Famer. But Vladimir Jr., after just 96 plate appearances, is making it clear that he has no business being at this level for much longer. The right-handed hitting third baseman is slashing .380/.442/.582 with two homers, eight doubles, 10 walks and 10 strikeouts in his first 20 games. He was also 7-for-13 in MLB camp during an impressive spring that he capped off with a walk-off homer in an exhibition game in Montreal.

    The only question for now is whether he makes a stop in Triple-A before he begins his MLB career. Once he’s in the Majors, he’ll be in the lineup on a regular basis. With Josh Donaldson expected back soon from the disabled list after missing time with shoulder discomfort, it’s possible that Guerrero spells him at third base a few days per week and serves as the designated hitter on other days. The odd man out would be Kendrys Morales, who is hitless in his last 21 at-bats and is 8-for-50 on the season.

    Josh Staumont, RP, Royals (Triple-A Omaha) | Royals Depth Chart

    Entering 2017 as one of the Royals’ best prospects, Staumont flopped in his first full season in the upper minors with a 5.56 ERA and 7.0 BB/9 in 124 2/3 innings between Triple-A and Double-A. A move to the bullpen has him back on track so far in 2018.

    While the walks are still an issue—he’s walked seven in 10 1/3 Triple-A innings—he’s allowed just one earned run and hasn’t walked more than one batter in seven of his eight appearances. The 24-year-old right-hander has also struck out 22 batters, including 10 over his past two outings (3 2/3 IP). Coincidentally, the Royals have one of the worst bullpens in the Majors. Their closer, Kelvin Herrera, isn’t part of the problem, but he’s expected to be traded to a contender by July 31st and probably sooner than that. Staumont should get a chance to prove that he can be a part of the team’s late-inning, post-Herrera relief crew.

    Christin Stewart, OF, Tigers (Triple-A Toledo) | Tigers Depth Chart

    The Tigers had a fairly uneventful offseason, which wasn’t totally unexpected as they moved toward a rebuild. But with several free agents available at a discounted rate—Carlos Gomez, Carlos Gonzalez and Jon Jay are just a few examples—it was a bit surprising that they took a hard pass and began the season with Mikie Mahtook and Leonys Martin in their starting outfield. While it’s not clear whether the Stewart factored in to the decision—he hit 28 homers in Double-A in 2017, but also struck out 138 times—he could soon get the chance to show that he can be a part of the solution.

    Not only has the 24-year-old left fielder continued to mash in the upper minors—he’s slashing .311/.404/.568 with four homers, five doubles and 11 walks in his first 89 Triple-A plate appearances—he’s also striking out at a much lower rate than in year’s past (24 % in ’17; 15 % in ’18). Playing alongside Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez should only help to continue that trend.

    Luis Urias, 2B, Padres (Triple-A El Paso) | Padres Depth Chart

    Padres hitters continue to rack up strikeouts at a record pace. They lead the league with 309 whiffs in 1135 plate appearances and are on their way to surpassing the MLB single-season record of 1571. As a comparison, Urias has struck out 150 times in 1618 plate appearances in the minors. He also has 166 walks. The 20-year-old won’t be their savior in 2018, but he can certainly help this bunch.

    Over his first 19 games in Triple-A, Urias is slashing .307/.416/.440 with two homers, four doubles, 13 walks and 15 strikeouts. He has nine hits, six walks and one strikeout over his last 22 plate appearances. The Padres moved quickly to fill two rotation spots with prospects—Joey Lucchesi and Eric Lauer both debuted in April—and now it’s becoming increasingly possible that Urias joins them to replace the struggling Carlos Asuaje (.576 OPS) as the starting second baseman.

    Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Daniel Norris Requires Groin Surgery, Will Miss Eight To Twelve Weeks]]> 2018-04-30T20:23:40Z 2018-04-30T20:23:40Z The Tigers announced today that left-hander Daniel Norris has been placed on the 10-day disabled list due to a left groin strain. Manager Ron Gardenhire further explained to reporters that Norris will undergo surgery to alleviate pressure in the area, and Norris himself revealed that he’ll miss the next eight to 12 weeks as a result of the procedure (Twitter links via’s Jason Beck). He’ll have the surgery Thursday, tweets Katie Strang of The Athletic. Left-hander Chad Bell was recalled from Triple-A to take Norris’ spot on the roster for now.

    Norris, who turned 25 last week, was a feel-good story back in 2016 when he returned from thyroid cancer and tossed 69 1/3 innings of 3.38 ERA ball in 13 starts with Detroit. The Tigers originally picked up Norris, Matthew Boyd and Jairo Labourt in the 2015 David Price blockbuster with the Blue Jays in hopes of landing multiple long-term rotation pieces. Norris at one point looked to be on his way to become that mid-rotation fixture they’d coveted, but he’s stalled out a bit over the past 13 months. Since Opening Day 2017, he’s posted an unsightly 5.38 ERA with 8.0 K/9, 4.1 BB/9 and 1.2 HR/9 in 117 innings (20 starts, seven relief appearances). Norris also missed time last season with a strained left groin, so it stands to reason that the injury has been a significant part of his recent struggles.

    [Related: Detroit Tigers depth chart]

    While the injury could sideline Norris into July or even August, there’s till ample time for him to rebound back to health and prove he can be a viable piece of the pitching staff moving forward. The Tigers control Norris all the way through the 2021 season, although he will be out of minor league options next year, so he’ll need to stick in the Majors beginning next spring at the latest. Nonetheless, given the upside the former top prospect possesses and given the Tigers’ rebuilding status, there’s no reason to think he won’t be given every opportunity to solidify himself as a Major League contributor once he returns from injury.

    With Norris now out of the picture for the foreseeable future, the Tigers will utilize Michael Fulmer, Francisco Liriano, Mike Fiers, Jordan Zimmermann and Boyd in the starting rotation.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Tigers Notes: Zimmermann, Draft]]> 2018-04-30T17:10:17Z 2018-04-30T17:10:17Z
  • Similarly, an injury to Tigers left Daniel Norris will likely dissuade the club from making any kind of drastic move of putting Jordan Zimmermann in the ’pen, writes Evan Woodbery of However, Woodbery notes that Zimmermann’s tenure in Detroit is rapidly beginning to resemble the final few years of Anibal Sanchez’s ill-fated five-year deal. Zimmermann’s K/BB numbers early in the season are more encouraging than in 2016 or 2017, he points out, but the bottom-line results still aren’t there. Woodbery suggests that manager Ron Gardenhire is losing patience, as he’s openly questioning the quality of Zimmermann’s pitches — an uncharacteristic trend for manager that has historically shied away from being too critical of his veterans in a public setting.
  • Carlos Collazo and J.J. Cooper of Baseball America still project the Tigers to select Auburn right-hander Casey Mize with the first overall pick in the 2018 draft. As they explain, while organizations like the Astros and Braves have saved money with top picks in recent drafts and reallocated the savings to first-round talents who are considered tough signs later in the draft, that strategy is riskier than it would be in most years this time around. Mize is “a cut above everyone else” in the draft, per the Baseball America duo, and the Tigers would be gambling by trying to get creative at the top of the draft when two clubs (Kansas City and Tampa Bay) will each have three selections between Detroit’s first and second picks. Collazo and Cooper have expanded their mock draft out to pick No. 15 in their latest version.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Tigers Outright Drew VerHagen]]> 2018-04-27T18:16:46Z 2018-04-27T18:16:46Z
  • The Tigers announced that righty Drew VerHagen cleared waivers and has been sent outright to Triple-A Toledo. The 27-year-old has struggled with the Tigers in each of the past few seasons, totaling 63 2/3 innings with a 6.25 ERA, 6.5 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9. But he also possesses a mid-90s heater that has added some velocity in 2018, and he’s made some meaningful gains in swinging-strike rate as well. Manager Ron Gardenhire told reporters this week that the organization maintains high hopes for VerHagen but simply didn’t feel it could continue to let him work on his control at the big league level given the overall state of the Tigers’ bullpen.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Wilson Discusses Early Struggles]]> 2018-04-27T01:41:54Z 2018-04-27T01:41:54Z
  • Tigers reliever Alex Wilson is going through the toughest stretch of his career, he told reporters after serving up a walk-off homer to Corey Dickerson today (links via Evan Woodbery of and George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press). “The only other time I can think of searching a little bit was Double-A, my first go-round in Double-A,” said Wilson. “And that was just learning curve. It’s not so much that anymore. I feel good about what I’m doing. It’s just not being rewarded right now.” Woodery notes that the Tigers have been quick to take action with struggling players this season, optioning Mikie Mahtook and designating Drew VerHagen for assignment. However, Woodbery adds that the Tigers will likely try to get him straightened out in some low-leverage spots before considering a more drastic move. As he points out, Wilson does have a minor league option remaining.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Tigers Place VerHagen On Waivers]]> 2018-04-25T02:22:25Z 2018-04-25T02:22:25Z
  • The Tigers have already placed right-hander Drew VerHagen on outright waivers after designating him for assignment yesterday, manager Ron Gardenhire revealed today (link via’s Evan Woodbery). Gardenhire explained that the decision to designate VerHagen simply boiled down to the fact that the team feels he needs to improve his control and is too thin in its bullpen ranks to allow the out-of-options righty to work on it in the Majors. “”Hopefully he’ll clear (waivers) and get back in our system,” said Gardenhire. “…he’s got the arm and the stuff. It’s just very inconsistent and we can’t afford it right now the way our bullpen’s set up.” As I noted when he was designated, VerHagen has struggled but also shown some positive indicators: namely an uptick in his velocity and a significant spike in his swinging-strike rate.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Tigers Designate Drew VerHagen For Assignment]]> 2018-04-23T15:26:33Z 2018-04-23T15:13:02Z The Tigers announced that they’ve recalled outfielder Mike Gerber from Triple-A Toledo and designated right-hander Drew VerHagen for assignment in order to clear a spot on the active roster. Gerber served as the 26th man in yesterday’s doubleheader but will now formally join the active roster.

    VerHagen, 27, has struggled with the Tigers in each of the past few seasons, totaling 63 2/3 innings with a 6.25 ERA, 6.5 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9. The righty has a mid-90s heater that is averaging 96.1 mph this season, and he’s shown a knack for inducing grounders in his big league career as well (57.8 percent). But VerHagen was extremely homer-prone in 2017, surrendering 10 long balls in just 34 1/3 innings, and he’s out of minor league options, so the Tigers weren’t able to simply send him to the minors.

    If he clears waivers, VerHagen will remain with the organization via an outright assignment, though that’s not a given. In addition to his velocity and penchant for ground-balls, he’s also notched a significant jump in his swinging-strike rate in 2017, spiking from a pedestrian 9.5 percent in 2017 to a considerably more impressive 15.4 percent in 2018. It’s a sample of merely 10 innings, of course, but VerHagen has punched out 11 hitters. The jump in strikeout rate and velocity have been complemented by VerHagen throwing his slider roughly twice as often as he did in 2017. Certainly, there are some elements to like about the 6’6″ righty, so perhaps he’ll generate interest elsewhere despite lackluster run-prevention numbers.

    The 25-year-old Gerber, meanwhile, spent most of the 2017 season in Double-A, where he turned in a strong .291/.363/.477 slash with 13 homers, 22 doubles, two triples and 10 steals (in 16 attempts) before briefly reaching the Triple-A level. Detroit protected him from the Rule 5 Draft by placing him on the 40-man roster this past offseason on the heels of that quality effort. He’ll join an outfield mix that currently has JaCoby Jones in left, Leonys Martin in center, Nicholas Castellanos in right and Rule 5 pick Victor Reyes as a reserve option on the bench.

    Given the team’s desire to hang onto Reyes, it’s likely that Gerber’s recall will be short-term in nature for now. But the rebuilding Tigers could potentially part ways with Martin and/or Castellanos this summer, and Jones is hardly an established fixture in left (though he is off to a very nice start in 2018). Gerber could eventually find himself with a opportunity to take on a greater role at any of the three outfield slots, as he does come with plenty of experience in center field.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Daniel Norris To Stay In Tigers' Bullpen]]> 2018-04-22T14:23:36Z 2018-04-22T14:23:38Z
  • Tigers southpaw Daniel Norris has only made one start in three appearances this year. For now, the team will continue deploying Norris as a reliever in the majors, as opposed to having him start in the minors, manager Ron Gardenhire told Jason Beck of and other reporters. The former high-end prospect’s lone start so far came Friday, when he only allowed one run in 4 2/3 innings against the Royals. However, Norris’ fastball velocity – which was in the low-90s in previous years – averaged just 88.6 mph, per Beck. The 24-year-old’s above-average spin rate helped make up for it, Beck notes, and Norris expects that to serve him well if his missing velocity returns. “I haven’t thrown this slow since I was a sophomore in high school, so I’m figuring something out and I’m learning how to pitch,” Norris said. “And when it does come back, I’m going to be a lot better for it.”
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[V-Mart Hints At Retirement After 2018]]> 2018-04-19T18:30:34Z 2018-04-19T18:30:34Z Tigers DH Victor Martinez hasn’t made any formal decisions on his future, but the five-time All-Star at least hinted at retirement following the 2018 season during an interview with’s Anthony Castrovince. The 39-year-old Martinez, who missed time last season due to an irregular heartbeat, talks with Castrovince about the frightening incident when he first felt symptoms  during a game — a sensation that was all the more troublesome given the history of heart issues that runs in his family. As Castrovince explains at greater length, Martinez lost his father to a heart attack at a young age, which only serves as further motivation for him to spend as much time with his own children as possible.

    “Honestly? I’m ready,” the longtime Tigers slugger tells Castrovince. “…I know I left everything in this game. I think the biggest problem for athletes is they don’t know what to do after baseball. That won’t be my problem.”

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 4/17/18]]> 2018-04-17T17:34:15Z 2018-04-17T17:34:15Z Here are Tuesday’s minor moves from around the game…

    • The Tigers re-signed catcher Kade Scivicque to a minor league contract and assigned him to Double-A Erie yesterday, as Tom Reisenweber of the Erie Times-News first tweeted. The 25-year-old Scivicque was Detroit’s fourth-round pick back in 2015, but the Tigers shipped him to the Braves in the 2016 trade that netted them veteran infielder Erick Aybar. Scivicque hit .270/.326/.365 between the Braves’ Double-A and Triple-A affiliates last season and threw out 27 percent of opposing base thieves while posting slightly below-average framing marks, per Baseball Prospectus. With Grayson Greiner and Jarrod Saltalamacchia occupying catching spots for the Tigers’ Triple-A affiliate in Toledo, Scivicque will head to Double-A despite posting respectable numbers in Gwinnett last season.
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Frankln Perez, Dixon Machado Switch Agencies]]> 2018-04-14T14:59:13Z 2018-04-14T14:59:13Z
  • In some Tigers agency news, righty Franklin Perez is joining Beverly Hills Sports Council while infielder Dixon Machado is now with Octagon. You can track the latest representation information with MLBTR’s agency database.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Tigers Notes: Mahtook, Zimmermann, Draft]]> 2018-04-12T14:16:04Z 2018-04-12T14:02:26Z The Tigers made the somewhat surprising move to option left fielder Mikie Mahtook to Triple-A Toledo following last night’s game, per a club announcement. Mahtook, a former first-rounder on whom the Tigers bought low late in the 2016-17 offseason, turned in a solid 2017 campaign in Detroit and opened the year as the Tigers’ primary left fielder. However, the 28-year-old got off to a brutal .129/.200/.161 start to the year through his first 35 plate appearances, prompting a move to be made. Manager Ron Gardenhire told reporters after the game that it was a “tough night” for the organization and called delivering this type of news the “worst part of being a manager” (link via’s Evan Woodbery). “Tough decision. Not fun at all,” said Gardenhire. “I really like Mikie. He’s kind of scuffling a little bit. I told him he needs to go down and get his swing together and get his confidence back and he’ll be right back up here.” Mahtook, who hit .276/.330/.457 last season, took the demotion in stride, voicing confidence that he can turn things around in Toledo and return in the near future.

    More out of the Motor City…

    • Wednesday was a frightening day for right-hander Jordan Zimmermann, who exited his start after being struck in the face by a line-drive off the bat of Jason Kipnis. Remarkably, however, it seems as though Zimmermann not only avoided major injury but will be able to make his next start, as’s Jason Beck writes. Statcast measured the exit velocity of the comebacker that hit Zimmermann at a blistering 105.6 mph, but Zimmermann passed MLB’s concussion protocols, and X-rays came back negative. Zimmermann noted that it wasn’t the first time he’s endured that type of injury, as a comebacker in college broke his jaw. Beck’s column has quotes from Zimmermann, Gardenhire and Kipnis on the incident.
    • The Tigers will face a pivotal decision in their rebuilding effort this June when they have the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 draft. Per Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs (all Twitter links), Auburn right-hander Casey Mize is favored to come off the board first overall at the moment, but the Tigers are also looking at Jarred Kelenic — a high school outfielder out of Waukesha, Wis., as a possibility with the top pick. The interest in Kelenic, McDaniel adds, isn’t a smokescreen designed to lower the price on other players and seems to be quite legitimate. Kelenic saw the Tigers’ Spring Training facility back in early March, and McDaniel notes that he’s been hearing talk about the two sides since that time, though those rumors have increased recently.
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Tigers Notes: Draft Slot, Pena, Reyes, Iglesias]]> 2018-04-02T03:11:59Z 2018-04-02T03:11:59Z The Royals have $12,781,900 in total to spend within their draft bonus pool, placing them just ahead of the Rays ($12,415,600) and Tigers ($12,414,800).  Detroit owns the first overall pick in the draft, which comes with a recommended slot price of $8,096,300.  Be sure to check out Callis’ piece for the full rundown of slot prices and the order of the draft’s first 10 rounds, though the draft order could still potentially be shifted if any of the Competitive Balance Round picks are traded.  These are the only such draft picks that are eligible to be dealt, and they can only be dealt once the regular season has started.

    • Brayan Pena is still hopeful of continuing his playing career, though Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire told reporters (including’s Evan Woodbery) that the catcher is also operating in a semi-coaching capacity.  Pena signed a minor league deal with Detroit in January but no longer has a spot at the Triple-A level after the Tigers’ signing of Jarrod Saltalamacchia.  If Pena can’t find a playing opportunity elsewhere, he’ll transition into working with prospects at extended Spring Training camp and for the Tigers’ Gulf Coast League team.  The 36-year-old Pena is a veteran of 12 Major League seasons, hitting .259/.299/.351 over 1950 career PA from 2005-16 while mostly working in a backup catching capacity.
    • Victor Reyes and Jose Iglesias both came up worse for wear after the two Tigers collided in pursuit of a fly ball during the fifth inning of today’s game.  Reyes suffered a laceration in his forearm that caused him to leave the game and required eight stitches to close, while Iglesias suffered soreness in both his ankle and calf (’s Evan Woodbery was among those who reported the injury updates.)  Both players will be re-evaluated tomorrow.  It was a tough beginning to Reyes’ big league career, as the Rule 5 pick was making his Major League debut in the second half of Detroit’s double-header with the Pirates.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Tigers Send Ryan Carpenter Back To Triple-A]]> 2018-04-02T02:55:02Z 2018-04-02T02:54:29Z
  • The Tigers announced that left-hander Ryan Carpenter will be assigned back to Triple-A Toledo.  Carpenter was called up as the 26th man for today’s double-header with the Pirates, and he made his Major League debut in the nightcap, starting the game and lasting three innings.  A seventh-round pick for the Rays in the 2011 draft, Carpenter has a 4.37 ERA, 7.7 K/9, and 3.36 K/BB rate over 760 1/3 innings (128 of his 115 games as a starter) in the Tampa Bay and Colorado farm systems.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Tigers Release Derek Norris, Enrique Burgos]]> 2018-03-30T05:16:26Z 2018-03-29T21:26:32Z
  • Veteran catcher Derek Norris and right-hander Enrique Burgos were released by the Tigers yesterday, tweets Evan Woodbery of Both had previously been reassigned to minor league camp after being informed that they wouldn’t crack the Opening Day roster. Norris went 7-for-17 with a homer in camp for Detroit, while Burgos was tagged for six runs in 4 2/3 innings with the big league team. Both will look to latch on elsewhere and work their way back to the majors.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Rusty Staub Passes Away]]> 2018-03-29T13:43:34Z 2018-03-29T13:43:34Z While baseball brims with excitement for the onset of the 2018 season, there’s also sad news for fans and industry folk alike to mourn on Thursday, as Bill Madden of the New York Daily News reports that six-time All-Star Rusty Staub has passed away just days before what would have been his 74th birthday. Staub had previously survived a severe heart attack in 2015, but as Madden notes, he’d been in the hospital for the past eight weeks battling a blood infection and kidney failure before experiencing multiple organ failure.

    Staub spent nine of his 23 Major League seasons starring for the Mets, for whom he batted .276/.358/.419 in two separate stints, although his best seasons very arguably came with the Houston organization and the now-defunct Expos in his mid-20s. From 1967-71, Staub posted a terrific .302/.397/.472 slash with 94 homers — good for a 148 OPS+ and five consecutive trips to the Midsummer Classic.

    In all, Staub’s outstanding career drew to a close with 2,716 hits, 292 homers, 499 doubles, 47 triples, 1189 runs scored, 1466 RBIs and more walks (1255) than strikeouts (888). He batted .279/.362/.431 in 11,229 plate appearances across 23 seasons split between the Mets, Astros/Colt 45s, Expos, Tigers and Rangers.

    After his playing days, Staub set to work on helping those less fortunate than he’d been in life, establishing the Rusty Staub Foundation, whose mission to this day is to “give children the opportunity to live full, happy and productive lives and to give aid to the hungry.” Established in 1985, the RSF has established pantries around New York City and, to date, has raised more than $17MM for like-minded organizations, per the RSF’s web site. Staub also established the New York Police and Fire Widows’ and Children’s Benefit Fund, which, as Madden notes in his column, has raised more than $112MM in total contributions since the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Madden’s column provides a terrific, heartfelt look at Staub’s legacy both on and off the field and stands as an excellent tribute to a beloved baseball figure.

    The Mets, for whom Staub suited up more than any team in his career, issued the following statement:

    “The Mets family suffered another loss earlier today when Daniel “Rusty” Staub passed away in a West Palm Beach Hospital after an illness. He was almost as well known for his philanthropic work as he was for his career as a baseball player, which spanned 23 seasons. There wasn’t a cause he didn’t champion. Rusty helped children, the poor, the elderly and then there was his pride and joy The New York Police and Fire Widows’ and Children’s Benefit Fund. A six-time All-Star, he is the only player in major league history to have collected at least 500 hits with four different teams. The entire Mets organization sends its deepest sympathy to his brother, Chuck, and sisters Sue Tully and Sally Johnson. He will be missed by everyone.”

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Tigers Add Niko Goodrum To Roster]]> 2018-03-29T01:46:49Z 2018-03-29T01:46:13Z
  • The Tigers announced that they’ve selected infielder Niko Goodrum’s contract, which puts their 40-man roster at capacity. Goodrum, who signed a minors deal with Detroit in November, spent 2010-17 with the Minnesota organization and batted .250/.333/.379 in 2,796 minor league PAs. He saw minimal big league action with the club (18 PAs, all of which came last season).
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Tigers Sign Jairo Labourt]]> 2018-03-28T15:32:12Z 2018-03-28T15:32:12Z The Tigers have signed lefty Jairo Labourt to a minor-league deal. He had bounced around the waiver wire this spring and will end up back where he started, in the Detroit organization.

    Labourt, 24, has long struggled with free passes, doesn’t excel particularly at generating swings and misses, and doesn’t draw a noteworthy volume of grounders. But he has traditionally succeeded in the minors at generating a hefty volume of infield fly balls while also allowing few home runs.

    Whether or not those skills will really translate to the majors is, of course, an open question. Labourt did reach the bigs briefly last year with the Tigers, allowing seven walks and throwing five wild pitches in his six innings. But he also turned in 66 1/3 solid innings over three minor-league levels, working to a 2.17 ERA with 10.7 K/9 and 4.5 BB/9.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Tigers Likely To Keep Rule 5 Pick Victor Reyes]]> 2018-03-26T15:08:53Z 2018-03-26T14:56:27Z
  • Tigers outfielder Victor Reyes, the first pick in last December’s Rule 5 draft, is likely to earn a spot on the club’s bench, Evan Woodbery of relays. While Reyes has only hit .250/.291/.288 over 52 at-bats this spring, the 23-year-old has done enough to convince Tigers brass that he could be a long-term cog. “We’re very encouraged with Reyes,” general manager Al Avila said. “He’s not given us any reason to think that he can’t handle it. We’re pretty excited about him, actually.” 
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Tigers Not Pursuing Fiers Replacement]]> 2018-03-26T05:01:34Z 2018-03-26T04:59:28Z
  • The Tigers aren’t planning to make a trade to account for Mike Fiers’ potential DL stint,’s Jon Paul Morosi tweets.  The team already has Daniel Norris as an in-house replacement, plus Fiers isn’t expected to miss much time recovering from the back problems that have hampered him all spring.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Tigers Outright Blaine Hardy]]> 2018-03-25T17:53:30Z 2018-03-25T17:52:40Z The Tigers announced that left-handed reliever Blaine Hardy has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Toledo. The move gives Detroit one open spot on its 40-man roster.

    Hardy debuted as a Tiger back in 2014 and has since amassed 159 1/3 frames of 3.62 ERA/3.74 FIP pitching with 7.57 K/9, 3.78 BB/9 and a 42.1 percent groundball rate. While that’s a useful career line, the 31-year-old hurt his stock last season with a dreadful campaign in which he logged a 5.94 ERA/5.38 FIP in 33 1/3 frames. With 7.56 K/9 and 3.51 BB/9, Hardy’s strikeout and walk numbers were normal, but his grounder percentage plummeted to 33.0. That helped lead to a personal-worst 1.89 home runs allowed per nine, a massive increase over Hardy’s career figure (0.68).

    Thanks to a shoulder impingement, Hardy wasn’t able to make a case for a roster spot in Detroit this spring. He ended up appearing in just one of the Tigers’ exhibition games before they cut him from their 40-man roster. Because of both that injury and his woeful 2017, no one claimed Hardy, even though he’s cheap ($795K), controllable through 2021 and has a minor league option remaining. Hardy’s 2018 salary would have become guaranteed in two days, making this move all the more painful for him, Evan Woodbery of notes.

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Central Notes: Indians, Naquin, Refsnyder, Reds, Miley, Cabrera]]> 2018-03-23T02:39:14Z 2018-03-23T02:27:29Z Tyler Naquin and Rob Refsnyder are still competing for a potential spot on the Indians’ opening day roster, and Ryan Lewis of the Akron Beacon Journal tweets that manager Terry Francona has explained some details to them. Francona reportedly told the two players that the spot won’t simply go to the guy who gets the most hits over the last week, and that roster construction could be the biggest factor. For instance, if Brandon Guyer and/or Michael Brantley aren’t ready in time for opening day, Naquin and Refsnyder would stand a better chance to make the club out of camp. Whether the club chooses to carry seven or eight relievers will also affect their fates. It’s worth noting that Tyler Naquin has multiple options remaining, while Rob Refsnyder is an out-of-options player.

    More out of the midwest…

    • In a piece for The Athletic, Doug Gray details ten Reds prospects to keep an eye on for the coming season. The players in the article aren’t necessarily top prospects, but rather a group of under-the-radar players who Gray describes as “unheralded”. The list includes right-handers Nick Hanson and Ryan Hendrix, $10MM shortstop Jose Garcia, and Brandon Phillips’ cousin Montrell Marshall. Many of these players have significant upside and are worth the exploration by any Reds fan, or indeed any avid baseball follower.
    • Wade Miley’s opt-out date has been pushed back, Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports reports on Twitter. The southpaw seemed likely to make the Brewers’ rotation before suffering a torn groin that’s expected to keep him out two to four weeks. Miley could have opted out of his contract tomorrow after being informed that he wouldn’t make the opening day roster, but GM David Stearns apparently worked out a deal with his agent. Miley’s opt-out date has been extended until the point at which he’s able to start pitching again.
    • Two-time MVP Miguel Cabrera is stuck in “baseball purgatory”, says Scott Miller in an opinion piece for Bleacher Report. Miller describes Cabrera as “an island unto himself”, on a rebuilding Tigers team that will not likely be able to deal him and the $192MM remaining on his contract, particularly coming off the worst season of his career wherein he was plagued by back issues. For his part, Cabrera doesn’t seem to be focused on that aspect of his situation. “I’m here to play,” he says. “I’m not here to give my opinion of what’s going to happen. I’m here to do my job, to help win games and to help the process.” 
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Franklin Perez Out Three Months With Strained Lat]]> 2018-03-20T00:28:29Z 2018-03-20T00:28:29Z Top Tigers prospect Franklin Perez has been diagnosed with a right lat strain, per a team announcement. Though he isn’t expected to require surgery, Perez is going to be sidelined for “a minimum of 12 weeks.”

    Perez, 20, was the centerpiece of the major, last-second swap that sent Justin Verlander from Detroit to the eventual world-champion Astros. He’s widely considered the Tigers’ top prospect and one of the fifty or so most promising pre-MLB players in baseball.

    Certainly, the near-term Detroit rotation won’t be any different as a result of this news. Despite his immense promise, Perez was not going to be on the major-league roster to open the season. And there’s no reason to expect that Perez’s anticipated timeline for MLB readiness will be drastically altered — let alone that this is an injury that could jeopardize his future.

    Still, the timing of the injury means that Perez will at least lose something like half of the coming season. With the Tigers sure to take an ultra-cautious approach to his rehab, and the need for a full reset of his throwing program, Perez may be sidelined for quite some time.

    It’s certainly possible, then, that Perez’s ultimate MLB debut will end up being pushed back somewhat owing to the lat problem, which the team says arose in a recent minor-league spring outing. Given that he reached the Double-A level in 2017, Perez might have profiled as a potential candidate for a promotion as soon as the middle of the coming season.

    While it would be foolish to guess at when Perez might now first be considered for a first appearance at the game’s highest level, the situation is now different for the rebuilding Tigers. That may not entirely be a bad thing — perhaps the club won’t face a service-time quandary this time next year, for instance — though surely the preference would be for the club’s prized farmhand to have a full and healthy season of development.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Mike Fiers Could Open Season On DL]]> 2018-03-19T19:29:14Z 2018-03-19T17:21:50Z
  • Tigers righty Mike Fiersback issues could force him to start the season on the disabled list, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press relays. If so, both Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd would make a Detroit rotation whose only sure bets at the moment are Michael Fulmer, Jordan Zimmermann and Francisco Liriano. The Tigers guaranteed Fiers $6MM over the winter with the hope that he’d grab a starting spot, but he hasn’t made a good case for himself this spring, having surrendered 12 earned runs on 10 hits and eight walks, with seven strikeouts, in 11 1/3 innings. Nevertheless, thanks to his veteran status, the Tigers are willing to give the 32-year-old Fiers “leeway,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. As such, if Fiers is healthy, he’ll be in their season-opening rotation.
  • ]]>
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Tigers Not Considering Relief Role For Daniel Norris]]> 2018-03-18T04:42:57Z 2018-03-18T04:42:51Z
  • Whether he begins the season in the majors or at Triple-A, Tigers left-hander Daniel Norris will continue to work as a starter, general manager Al Avila informed Katie Strang of The Athletic (subscription required). “Right now, I would say, for me that’s not in his future,” Avila said when asked if Norris could fill a relief role. “Because we all believe he is a starting pitcher.” The 24-year-old Norris is competing for a job in a Tigers rotation mix that lacks certainty beyond Michael Fulmer, Jordan Zimmermann and Francisco Liriano. Mike Fiers, whom the Tigers signed in free agency with the idea that he’d occupy a starting spot, has “been bad” this spring, in part because he’s dealing with back issues, according to Avila.
  • ]]>
    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Central Notes: Suarez, Mahle, Romano, Garrett, Kirby, Tigers]]> 2018-03-17T15:02:26Z 2018-03-17T15:02:26Z Mark Sheldon of posits that the Redsextension of Eugenio Suarez is a sign that the club is making an effort to keep a young core of players together for the foreseeable future, alongside potential future Hall-of-Famer Joey Votto. In the companion video, GM Dick Williams speaks highly of Suarez, particularly in regards to his defensive capabilities. “This is one of the premier defenders in the league,” says Williams. “At third base he’s established himself as one of the best young players in the league… he’s an offensive force, defensive force, leader in the clubhouse, say no more.” It’s interesting that Williams so specifically refers to Suarez as a third baseman, given the speculation that the former shortstop might slide back to his old position to make room for top prospect Nick Senzel. The GM’s comments seem to suggest the possibility that the destination of Senzel’s path to the majors isn’t the hot corner.

    More from some non-coastal ballclubs…

    • In other Reds news, the starting rotation picture is beginning to gain some clarity beyond Homer Bailey and Luis Castillo, who appear to be the only locks following injuries to Anthony DeSclafani and Brandon Finnegan. Per a tweet from C. Trent Rosencrans of The Athletic, manager Bryan Price says that Sal Romano and Tyler Mahle “may have separated themselves from the pack a little bit” in the rotation competition. A piece by John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer contains quotes that line up with this tweet, perhaps also suggesting that lefty Amir Garrett is tabbed for a spot if Finnegan’s injury sidelines him to start the season. “With the way Romano and Mahle have thrown in camp, they’ve certainly put themselves in the lead,” Price said, via Fay’s article. “I think with the way Amir has thrown has created an opportunity to jump in there in the rotation and get a start against the Diamondbacks and get stretched out.”
    • Brewers prospect Nathan Kirby is finally healthy and determined to establish himself as a valuable pitcher, writes Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Rosiak describes Kirby as something of a “forgotten man” in Milwaukee’s system for the past two and a half years. The 24-year-old was drafted 40th overall by the organization back in 2015, but has since undergone two surgeries on his left elbow (a Tommy John operation and another for ulnar neuritis). Though Kirby ranked near the bottom on most Milwaukee prospect lists, he was a large part of the University of Virginia’s first College World Series title, and would seem to have the potential to rise through the Brewers’ farm system quickly if he can stay healthy this season.
    • Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press tweets that the Tigers remain on the lookout for veteran insurance for their starting rotation. The organization is reportedly concerned about the dependability of its starting rotation as a whole; their current options include Michael Fulmer, Francisco Liriano, Mike Fiers, Jordan Zimmerman, Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris. Alex Cobb tops the list of available free agent starters, while Scott Feldman, Trevor Cahill and Clay Buchholz are some other interesting arms that remain on the market.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Offseason In Review: Detroit Tigers]]> 2018-03-23T18:31:30Z 2018-03-16T23:41:41Z This is the latest entry in MLBTR’s 2017-18 Offseason In Review series.  Click here to read the other completed reviews from around the league.

    The rebuilding Tigers did much of their heavy lifting on the trade front last summer, when they shipped out Justin Upton, Justin Verlander, Justin Wilson and J.D. Martinez, leading to a relatively quiet winter for the team that holds the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 draft. GM Al Avila and his staff made a handful of small-scale free-agent pickups and one notable trade as they continue to look toward the future.

    Major League Signings

    Notable Minor League Signings

    Trades and Claims

    Notable Losses

    Needs Addressed

    The primary need for the Tigers over the past year-plus has simply been to build up a farm system that was depleted by years of aggressive “win-now” moves that left the minor league ranks perilously thin. In that same vein, paring back the big league payroll to clear room for future commitments has been paramount.

    With that in mind, the Tigers surprised no one when they moved their top remaining trade chip: Ian Kinsler. A saturated market for second basemen and a sub-par 2017 season at the plate held down Kinsler’s value on the trade market, and his limited no-trade protection tied Avila’s hands. Detroit ultimately landed outfielder Troy Montgomery (ranked 26th among Tigers farmhands by and righty Wikel Hernandez in exchange for the veteran, shedding $12MM in 2018 payroll in the process.

    Turning to the 2018 roster, while it certainly wouldn’t behoove the Tigers to spend heavily on rotation upgrades in a season where they’re likely to be one of the league’s worst teams, Detroit unquestionably lacked starting depth. Jordan Zimmermann has struggled enormously in his first two seasons with the Tigers. Michael Fulmer was coming off ulnar nerve transposition surgery. Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris have displayed flashes of potential but have not yet solidified themselves as long-term rotation cogs. Beyond that, the team’s options were thin.

    Affordable deals for Mike Fiers and Francisco Liriano give the Tigers a pair of veteran stopgaps who could potentially become trade assets themselves this summer. In Fiers’ case, if he thrives in Detroit, he’s also controllable for the 2019 season via arbitration, making him all the more logical a piece. It’s cliche to call Liriano mercurial at this point, but the lefty has long shown a wide variance of outcomes on a season to season basis, and if the Tigers can get him to harness his control, he could net a semi-interesting piece this summer. Adding that pair could mean that Norris begins the year in Triple-A, whereas the out-of-options Boyd is a lock to make the roster.

    The Tigers faced a similar dearth of outfield options and, accordingly, made a similarly low-cost stopgap acquisition in signing Leonys Martin to a one-year pact. Like Fiers, he’s controllable through the 2019 season via arbitration and could either emerge as a trade piece this summer or an affordable option over a two-year term. The fleet-footed veteran gives the Tigers an above-average defender in center field who can provide value on the bases even if his bat doesn’t bounce back to its 2013-14 and 2016 levels.

    Detroit was undoubtedly pleased with the contributions of John Hicks at backup catcher last year, but given his lack of a track record in the Majors they brought in veterans such as Derek Norris, Brayan Pena and Jarrod Saltalamacchia as minor league depth options. The need for a utility infielder led to a comparable blend of minor league signings in Alexi Amarista, Pete Kozma and Niko Goodrum.

    Questions Remaining

    The list of remaining questions for the Tigers, as one would expect in the early stages of a rebuild, is plentiful. At present, the team lacks clear long-term options at both middle-infield positions and all around the outfield. Detroit’s system, at least, is stacked with outfield prospects, including Daz Cameron, Derek Hill and Christin Stewart, among many others. The infield, however, is murkier. While there’s some hope that Dawel Lugo (acquired in the J.D. Martinez trade) and Isaac Paredes (Justin Wilson/Alex Avila trade) could hold down infield spots in the long term, neither is considered a elite prospect by national outlets. That, of course, hardly means they won’t establish themselves as regulars, but it’s worth noting that the vast majority of Detroit’s top-ranked prospects are pitchers and outfielders.

    That’s all the more problematic with Jose Iglesias in his final year of control and likely to be traded this summer. Dixon Machado has yet to prove his mettle in the Majors but will be handed the keys at second base. The lack of infield depth made the Tigers a logical suitor for someone like Neil Walker from my vantage point, as he’d have pushed Machado to a utility role (until Iglesias was traded at the very least) and could’ve emerged as a trade chip himself. Perhaps Walker wasn’t interested in signing with a rebuilding club, or perhaps the Tigers simply felt it better to give Machado everyday at-bats sooner rather than later. Regardless, their lack of infield depth seems fairly glaring.

    Perhaps, then, that’ll be a potential area of focus as the Tigers look to do some further summer shopping on the trade market. Offseason pickups such as Fiers, Liriano and Martin all figure to be widely available, as do Iglesias and corner outfielder Nicholas Castellanos, both of whom were shopped this offseason but ultimately remained with the club. (The Tigers also reportedly explored extension talks with Castellanos, but it doesn’t seem as if the sides gained much traction.)

    The larger question facing Detroit this summer will no doubt be whether the time is right to cash in on larger chips such as presumptive closer Shane Greene and, much more significantly, ace Michael Fulmer. While Fulmer in particular could be viewed as a building block, he’ll also likely be considered a difference-maker to contenders looking to bolster their rotations leading up to a postseason push.

    The Tigers will be marketing a whopping four and a half years of control over Fulmer, which could lead to franchise-altering offers of young talent for the 2016 Rookie of the Year. Detroit, no doubt, would only move him for an otherworldly return given the lack of urgency to market him, but teams figure to line up with enticing offers. Scoring a big return in what feels like an increasingly likely trade of Fulmer — be it this summer or at some later point in the next 18 months — could rapidly accelerate the rebuild for Al Avila & Co.

    Beyond that, this is largely a season where the Tigers will need to find out what they have in some key young pieces. Can Daniel Norris and Boyd cement themselves as big league starters? (And, if so, could they also be marketed this July or next winter? Norris actually has less team control remaining than Fulmer.) Can Jeimer Candelario establish himself as a starting-caliber third baseman? Is JaCoby Jones an everyday option in the outfield or more of a utility piece? It’s a critical year for several young pieces around the roster as the Tigers evaluate who will comprise the core of their next contending roster.


    The Tigers brought in several stopgap options, as one would typically expect from a rebuilding club, but they held off on cashing in on some of their more appealing chips in Michael Fulmer and Shane Greene. Both could find themselves on the market again this winter, along with a host of other names, as Detroit still looks to be years away from once again emerging as a perennial threat. While last year’s deadline deals were as much about shedding salary as they were acquiring talent, their July maneuverings will take a different tone this summer, as they’ll be marketing more affordable and (in some cases) controllable assets.

    Those deals, paired with the expiration of Victor Martinez’s contract following the 2018 season, should help push the Tigers’ rebuild to the next stage, though the ultimate progress of that rebuilding effort will be largely dependent on whether their young assets that’ve already reached the Majors can break out in 2018. The Tigers have done quite a bit of maintenance on their long-term payroll since embarking on this rebuild, and their farm is in much better shape, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.

    How do you grade the Tigers’ offseason efforts? (Link for app users.)

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Gardenhire On Fiers' Spring Struggles]]> 2018-03-16T14:16:06Z 2018-03-16T14:16:06Z
  • Right-hander Mike Fiers’ struggles this spring haven’t yet put his rotation spot in jeopardy, though Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire suggested that the 32-year-old offseason signee would be well-served to show some positive signs in the final weeks of camp (via Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press). “We’re planning on this guy being in,” Gardenhire said of Fiers, who has been torched for 12 runs (including four homers) in 11 1/3 frames this spring. “…But at the end of the day, when we get down to the end here, we have to make some decisions and we’re going to go with the guys that are getting it done and right now, he’s just gotta fight through it because he’s a veteran.” Gardenhire later added that Fiers’ veteran status will buy him a bit more leeway than the team’s younger arms. As Fenech notes, Fiers has been unequivocally outpitched by lefty Daniel Norris, but Norris has a minor league option remaining and could head to Triple-A to open the season.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[TIgers Weighing Roster Spot For Victor Reyes]]> 2018-03-15T21:17:51Z 2018-03-15T03:34:30Z
  • The Tigers are deliberating over the fate of Rule 5 pick Victor Reyes, as Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press writes. Skipper Ron Gardenhire says it’s “honestly a really big one” — decision, that is — for the rebuilding organization. It could come down to Reyes and fellow outfielder JaCoby Jones, who has had a strong spring but can still be optioned. Interestingly, Fenech says the Tigers tried and failed to get Reyes in the J.D. Martinez trade, despite the fact that he came available just months later via the Rule 5. Gardenhire discussed the matter at some length, noting that Reyes could be a functional player even though he’s clearly not quite as polished as would be hoped. “I know where we’re at as an organization,” said Gardenhire. “We’re talking about developing and all those things so I think I can use him.”
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