MLB Trade Rumors » » Detroit Tigers 2017-12-13T22:38:00Z 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.
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    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.
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    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.”
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    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).
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Tigers Outright Victor Alcantara]]> 2017-12-11T19:43:24Z 2017-12-11T19:27:55Z Right-hander Victor Alcantara has been outrighted after clearing waivers, as Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reported on Twitter. That leaves the team with an open 40-man spot in advance of the Rule 5 draft later this week.

    The 24-year-old Alcantara, who came to the organization in the Cameron Maybin swap, struggled in his first, limited MLB action in 2017. Alcantara spent most of the year in the upper minors, where he was utilized mostly as a reliever after spending the bulk of his career to that point as a starter. Over 74 2/3 innings at Double-A and Triple-A, he posted a 3.62 ERA with 8.8 K/9 and 5.5 BB/9.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Tigers May Find Kinsler Deal At Winter Meetings]]> 2017-12-11T18:40:15Z 2017-12-11T18:24:40Z
  • All along, Tigers second bagger Ian Kinsler has seemed the likeliest player at his position to move. And it’s possible a deal could come together this week, GM Al Avila tells reporters including’s Jason Beck (Twitter link). It’s a “possibility,” but not a certainty, that something will get done, according to Avila.
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    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Quick Hits: Sports Science, Iglesias, Moylan, Rangers]]> 2017-12-11T12:51:12Z 2017-12-11T12:51:12Z Though baseball hasn’t publicly embraced sports science the way it has analytics, the Giants are looking towards that very field as a way to gain an advantage. A fascinating article by Ian MacMahan of The Athletic (subscription required and recommended) provides some insight into the goals of Geoff Head, San Francisco’s newly-promoted assistant director of player development. “Everybody in baseball is tired by August,” Head tells MacMahan. “But if we are a little less fatigued than our opponent, it gives us an advantage.” The field of sports science focuses heavily on factors such as hydration, nutrition, workload and sleep; experts attempt to put together a formula that will keep players performing at their optimal levels as often as possible. According to Dr. Glenn Fleisig, the main difference between sports science and analytics is that sports science focuses on the “physical and medical aspects of a player,” as opposed to gameplay-based statistics. Less than half of all MLB teams currently have a dedicated sports scientist on their staff, and heavier use of sports science data could lead to big improvements by baseball players. As MacMahan puts it, “no one hits a home run sitting in the dugout nursing lead-filled legs and a tight back.”

    • Evan Woodbery of provides some insight into the questions the Tigers face as the winter meetings commence. Most notably, Woodbery reports that there hasn’t been much buzz surrounding shortstop Jose Iglesias, who will become a free agent after the 2018 season. With no open spots on the 40-man roster, Iglesias is one player Detroit could consider moving in order to take advantage of having the first pick in baseball’s Rule 5 Draft this Thursday (As Woodbery points out, Ian Kinsler could also be on the move before then). Though Iglesias hit just .255/.288/.369 across 489 plate appearances last year, his excellent defense boosted his fWAR to 1.6. Because he’s projected to earn just $5.6MM in his final year of arbitration, there would seem to be some surplus value in his contract.
    • Reliever Peter Moylan is generating some interest, specifically from the Royals and Braves (hat tip to Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston). As Drellich notes, Moylan held opposing right-handed hitters to a .161/.244/.236 batting line in 2017 (and may have also provided the Royals with some intangible value thanks to his espresso skills). The 38-year-old Moylan has typically been excellent against righties over the course of his 11-year major league career; he’s posted a 2.22 ERA against them in 280 innings with the Braves, Dodgers and Royals.
    • Even after losing out on Shohei Ohtani, the Rangers may still elect to use a non-traditional rotation, Evan Grant of SportsDay writes. Texas has reportedly kept contact with Yu Darvish, who has pitched in a six-man rotation in Japan and prefers such a setup; that might be one item which could help entice him to return to Arlington. Grant mentions Cole Hamels, who is generally a stickler for routine, as someone who could present a roadblock to such a strategy. However, based on Hamels’ quotes in the piece, he’d be willing to consider it if the modification helped bring about a postseason berth. “I’d love to get to the postseason again and win a World Series. That’s what I want to do here,” said Hamels. “If we can be stronger and healthier, not as worn down, you have the advantage.”
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Jack Morris, Alan Trammell Voted Into Baseball Hall Of Fame]]> 2017-12-10T23:58:47Z 2017-12-10T23:36:41Z Jack Morris and Alan Trammell were both elected to the Baseball Hall Of Fame today, as announced on the MLB Network.  The two longtime Tigers greats were voted in via the HOF’s Modern Baseball Era Committee, who weighed the cases of Morris, Trammell and eight others who weren’t originally selected in the traditional writers’ vote.  (’s Barry M. Bloom has the details on the Modern Era Committee’s composition and process.)

    Both Morris and Trammell went the full 15 years on the Baseball Writers’ Association Of America ballot without getting the necessary 75% of the vote necessary for election.  Still, both players (as well as the others on the Modern Era Committee’s ballot) had their share of supporters who felt that the duo was long overdue to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

    Morris won 254 games over his 18-year career, with 14 of those seasons coming in Detroit.  While advanced metrics weren’t always keen on Morris’ work, he was a prototypical old-school workhorse, tossing complete games in 175 of his 527 career starts.  His most famous outing, in fact, was a complete game on the sport’s biggest stage — Morris tossed 10 shutout innings in Game Seven of the 1991 World Series to help lead the Twins to the championship.  That was one of four World Series rings Morris earned during his career, while posting a 3.90 ERA and 2478 strikeouts over his 3824 career innings.

    Trammell spent all 20 seasons of his career in Detroit, highlighted by his World Series MVP performance in the Tigers’ championship season in 1984.  Trammell hit .285/.352/.415 with 185 homers over 9376 career plate appearances, with six All-Star appearances, four Gold Gloves and three Silver Slugger Awards to his credit.  Despite this impressive resume, Trammell’s overall steady play may have actually led to his being underrated in comparison to star shortstops of his era (as recently argued by’s Joe Posnanski), hence his long wait for Cooperstown.

    The Modern Era Committee focused on names from 1970-87, with other candidates including union leader Marvin Miller and former star players Steve Garvey, Tommy John, Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy, Dave Parker, Ted Simmons, and Luis Tiant.  Simmons came closest to induction, falling just a single vote shy of the 12-vote threshold.  Miller was the next-highest candidate, earning seven of 16 votes.

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Mets Have Talked With Indians, Tigers About Trades For Second Baseman]]> 2017-12-10T18:46:43Z 2017-12-10T01:02:55Z 7:02pm: The Tigers’ efforts to trade Kinsler have “intensified” of late, Katie Strang of The Athletic reports (subscription required and recommended). Moving Kinsler will be a key area of focus for Detroit during the upcoming week, Strang adds, given that the team has a full 40-man roster with Thursday’s Rule 5 draft approaching. The Tigers are slated to pick first in the draft, and dealing Kinsler by then would give them room to select a player with that choice.

    9:31am: According to Marc Carig of Newsday, the Mets have had talks about significant potential trades for Ian Kinsler of the Tigers and Jason Kipnis of the Indians. The Mets may also use the winter meetings to explore a deal with the Pirates for Josh Harrison, says Carig.

    At this point, Carig clarifies, it seems as though the Mets have had much more dialogue with the Tigers regarding Kinsler; however there’s “some skepticism about a deal getting done there”.

    It’s certainly no surprise to hear that a team with a need at second base has inquired on Kinsler. The last-place Tigers endured a rough first half last season that culminated in a decision to tear down and rebuild. Veterans J.D. Martinez, Justin Upton and Justin Verlander were all traded to different contending teams, and Detroit ultimately finished the season with just 64 wins. With no serious ability to contend next season, MLBTR’s Jeff Todd already pointed out that Kinsler seems like a prime trade candidate.

    While Kinsler finished 2017 with his worst full season by fWAR (2.4), he’s a solid bounceback candidate for a Mets team with plans to push for a pennant in 2018. Kinsler hit just .236/.313/.412 this past season, but was seemingly held back by some terrible luck with BABIP (.244). At 35, he’s no sure bet to return to previous form, but considering he combined for 9.8 fWAR between 2015 and 2016, acquiring Kinsler could be well worth the risk for the Mets.

    The news about talks for Kipnis are perhaps a bit more surprising. There’s been some speculation about Kipnis as a trade candidate this offseason; he’s coming off a down offensive year during which he hit just .232/.291/.414 and missed significant time due to shoulder and hamstring injuries, and he seems to have been displaced at the keystone by teammate Jose Ramirez. However, Kipnis is one of the more significant faces in the Indians franchise, and he’s been one of their best offensive players overall for the past half-decade. To this point, there’s been no indication from Cleveland’s camp that they’d be willing to trade Kipnis at all; the fact that they’ve had talks with the Mets about him seems to imply that they’re at least willing to explore trade scenarios.

    Of course, there’s no real word as to the extent of the trade talks surrounding Kipnis. The report that the Mets have had more dialogue about Kinsler and that such a deal is met with skepticism seems to imply that negotiations for Kipnis are far from advanced. It could be that the Mets were simply doing their due diligence, and that the Indians were willing to listen. Regardless, Kipnis being available to any extent would add an interesting new twist to a second base market that no longer includes Dee Gordon.

    While there’s not much word yet on the Mets’ reported interest in Harrison, he’d also be an upgrade to their current depth chart. Harrison has been a solid infielder for the Pirates over the past four seasons, and is capable of playing in the outfield and at third base as well. The Pirates haven’t yet signaled whether or not they’re making a push for contention, but if they decide to rebuild instead, Harrison would be one of the more obvious trade candidates. The 30-year-old is guaranteed $11.5MM for the remainder of his contract, which includes salary for 2018 season as well as buyouts for 2019 and 2020. Harrison hit .272/.339/.432 across 542 plate appearances for Pittsburgh last season.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Tigers Sign Mike Fiers]]> 2017-12-08T18:55:06Z 2017-12-08T18:47:47Z The Tigers have filled the fifth spot in their 2018 rotation, announcing on Friday a one-year deal with free agent right-hander Mike Fiers. He’ll reportedly earn $6MM on the contract and will remain under Tigers control through 2019 as an arbitration-eligible player. Detroit’s 40-man roster is now full.

    Mike Fiers | Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

    Detroit has long seemed to make sense as a landing spot for a bounceback starter or two, and Fiers clearly fits that description. The 32-year-old was recently non-tendered by the Astros, who were unwilling to commit to what MLBTR projected as a $5.7MM salary.

    That no other teams stepped in to trade for Fiers seemingly suggested that the rest of the market was equally unwilling to pay that price. Yet Fiers has evidently secured a guarantee that’s greater than the projection. Of course, it’s possible that the market moved a bit more than anyone anticipated. And it’s at least arguably preferable to have him at a fixed price rather than risking an arb hearing.

    It’s worth noting that Detroit will also pick up what’s essentially a team option at a floating price. Since Fiers is eligible for arbitration one more time, the organization will get to decide whether to tender him at the end of the 2018 season.

    [RELATED: Updated Tigers Depth Chart]

    Of course, that assumes that Fiers is not traded in the interim. If all goes as hoped, and he delivers strong results, perhaps he’ll end up being pursued by contending teams over the summer. (While the Tigers certainly could, in theory, be competitive themselves, that seems quite unlikely given the organization’s direction.)

    The 2017 season wasn’t kind to Fiers, who ran a 5.22 ERA with 8.6 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 over 153 1/3 innings. While many of his peripheral numbers fell in their normal ranges, Fiers coughed up a hefty 1.88 dingers per nine.

    But he has shown more in the past, including a steady showing in 2015, when he put up 180 1/3 innings of 3.69 ERA ball and memorably threw a no-hitter. Fiers has also been healthy of late, taking the ball for at least 28 starts in each of the past three seasons, even if he doesn’t always work deep.

    Taking a chance on some kind of turnaround is easy enough for an organization that is entering a rebuilding phase and needs innings. As currently composed, the rotation would likely feature Fiers along with Michael Fulmer, Jordan Zimmermann, and lefties Matthew Boyd and Daniel Norris. It’s still possible to imagine the Tigers adding another arm to that mix, even if that just means bringing in some veterans on minor-league pacts to provide depth and spring competition.

    Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press first reported the two sides were close to a deal (via Twitter).’s Jerry Crasnick reported the agreement and terms (via Twitter).

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Tigers Notes: FA Pitchers, Norris]]> 2017-12-08T02:51:34Z 2017-12-08T02:51:34Z The rebuilding Tigers are pursuing a pair of potential bounce-back starters, right-handers Chris Tillman and Mike Fiers, as well as Japanese closer Yoshihisa Hirano, Chris McCosky of the Detroit News tweets. On the other hand, they’re not after free agent starters Jason Vargas, Jeremy Hellickson or ex-Tiger Anibal Sanchez, according to McCosky. Detroit’s interest in Tillman has been known since last month, and he and Fiers look like strong candidates to sign one-year deals after enduring rough 2017 campaigns. Hirano also figures to land a short-term pact because of his age (34 in March), though he ran roughshod over hitters as a closer in Japan for most of the past decade. The Tigers join the Cardinals as the second team with reported interest in the righty.

    • Catcher Derek Norris, whom the Tigers signed to a minor league contract Tuesday, will earn a base salary of $1.2MM if he cracks their roster, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (Twitter link). Norris could also rake in $300K in incentives.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Tigers Sign Leonys Martin To Major League Deal, Sign Derek Norris To Minors Pact]]> 2017-12-05T20:03:30Z 2017-12-05T19:39:08Z The Tigers announced that they’ve signed outfielder Leonys Martin to a one-year, Major League contract for the 2018 season. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports (via Twitter) that he’ll earn a guaranteed $1.75MM with the opportunity to pick up another $1.1MM via incentives.

    Meanwhile, catcher Derek Norris, right-hander Enrique Burgos and outfielder Jim Adduci have signed minor league deals that contain invites to Spring Training, per the team. The Tigers also confirmed their previously reported minor league deal with first baseman Edwin Espinal.

    Martin, 30 next March, should have ample opportunity to pick up at-bats with the Tigers, who enter the offseason with a thin outfield mix. Mikie Mahtook, JaCoby Jones and Nicholas Castellanos currently sit atop the depth chart in Detroit, though Jones has yet to establish himself in the Majors while Castellanos is a trade candidate. Martin could supplant Jones, and at the very least the two will compete for regular at-bats during Spring Training this year.

    In Martin, the Tigers are adding a left-handed bat and a fleet-footed defender that can handle all three outfield spots. The former Rangers/Mariners outfielder hasn’t hit much in recent years, but Martin has consistently drawn top-notch reviews for his defensive work — most of which has come in center field. Defensive Runs Saved pegs him at +46 in nearly 4500 big league innings, while Ultimate Zone Rating has him at 30 runs better than average. Detroit outfielders, collectively, drew marks of -10 and -7 from DRS and UZR last season, so adding Martin to the mix should prove to be a significant boon, even if it comes at the expense of some offense.

    Martin’s struggles with the bat have indeed been pronounced over the past three seasons, during which time he’s twice posted an OPS south of .600. Overall, in his past 1024 MLB plate appearances, Martin has batted .228/.283/.345. At his best, Martin does show some pop, and he’s always a threat on the basepaths as well. Martin’s batted-ball profile has been increasingly fly-ball oriented in recent years, and while many in the league have had great success in that regard, it hasn’t worked out for him. Perhaps a return to a more ground-ball-based approach and some work to curtail his recent uptick in punchouts can at least return his bat to serviceable levels.

    As a bonus for the Tigers, Martin comes with just four years, 161 days of Major League service time, meaning if he does turn things around at all, he’ll be controllable through the 2019 season via arbitration. That could help both in making him a multi-year asset for a rebuilding Detroit club or by making him more appealing to potential trade suitors in the event of a bounceback.

    Norris, 29 in February, struggled to a .201/.258/.380 line in 198 plate appearances with the Rays last season. He hasn’t performed well at the plate since a solid run with the A’s and Padres in 2013-15, though he at one point in his career showed a penchant for drawing walks and the power to post double-digit homer totals. He’ll compete for a backup catching job, though with James McCann and John Hicks in the fold, it seems likelier that he’ll head to Triple-A to open the year.

    Norris was released by the Rays this past June, and his season formally came to a conclusion on Sept. 1 when commissioner Rob Manfred placed him on the restricted list for the final month of the year “based on the results of” an investigation into domestic violence allegations made by his former fiancee. Notably, it does not seem as though there were ever any criminal charges brought forth against Norris. He’s not facing any punishment from the league in 2018.

    The 27-year-old Burgos has shown the ability to miss bats at the big league level, averaging 10.8 K/9 in 68 1/3 innings across multiple stints with the D-backs, dating back to 2015. He’s averaged nearly 96 mph on his fastball but has also issued five walks per nine innings as a Major Leaguer. He’ll vie for a spot in an unsettled Tigers bullpen and, if he can eventually put things together, is controllable all the way through the 2022 season.

    Adduci, 32, returned from a strong stint in the Korea Baseball Organization this year and made his way to the Tigers’ big league roster, where he batted .241/.323/.398 in 93 PAs. Adduci has just 241 big league PAs, which have resulted in a .209/.283/.302 slash.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Avila On Tigers' Young Core, Kinsler, Iglesias]]> 2017-12-05T06:38:41Z 2017-12-05T05:31:41Z
  • Tigers GM Al Avila chatted recently with David Laurila of Fangraphs, who details their discussion. While the club is obviously settling in for some bumps, Avila says there’s “already a nucleus there for our future” on the current roster. While there are still quite a few more pieces to be added, the club’s top baseball decisionmaker suggests he is fairly high on several of the team’s controllable players who are at or near the majors. He also frankly acknowledged that the Tigers’ two middle infielders — Ian Kinsler and Jose Iglesias — could be on the move this offseason. “Whether they’re going to be with us this year or not, we’ll see,” he said of the two veterans, each of whom will reach the open market next winter. There’s more in that post from Avila as well as a few other execs from around the league.
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    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Free Agent Profile: J.D. Martinez]]> 2017-12-05T01:44:10Z 2017-12-05T01:44:10Z Despite not accumulating enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title, J.D. Martinez hit the third-most home runs of any player in baseball. Make no mistake, he’ll be paid for his power this winter.


    Since his breakout season with the Tigers, Martinez has been an incredible power asset. Over the past four seasons, the outfielder is 10th in MLB with 128 homers, despite having the second-fewest plate appearances of any player in the top 20 in that category. During that time, Martinez trails only Mike Trout in slugging percentage. He also ranks within the top five in wOBA and wRC+ during that stretch, with an even .300 batting average and .362 OBP, so it’s not as if he’s an all-or-nothing presence at the plate.

    During the 2017 season, Martinez took his power to a new level. Across 489 plate appearances between the Tigers and the Diamondbacks, Martinez posted a whopping .690 slugging percentage, which would have led all of baseball by a full 59 points if he’d made enough trips to the plate to qualify for the slugging title. The power numbers he puts up are incredibly impressive and will motivate many teams to inquire on him.

    It’s not just his power numbers that stick out, however. Those figures are just one by-product of Martinez’ true greatest strength: quality of contact. His whopping 49% hard contact rate led all of baseball last season, and only Aaron Judge had more barrels per plate appearance.  His 208-foot average batted ball distance ranked 10th among hitters with at least 250 batted ball events. His 90.8 MPH average exit velocity ranked 12th, while his 97.2 MPH average exit velocity on fly balls ranked 6th.


    Though Martinez’ power is absolutely elite, he comes with a slew of weaknesses that hurt his value and build in a frightening amount of risk. It all starts with his health; Martinez has missed significant time with injuries in each of the past two seasons. In fact, the outfielder has only qualified for the batting title once in his career; teams will certainly be somewhat skeptical about his ability to produce at his 2017 clip over a full season in 2018, let alone in future years as he ages.

    One can’t completely ignore defense, either, and Martinez is a downright liability in the field. Fangraphs rated him the seventh-worst defensive player in baseball in 2017. His Ultimate Zone Rating per 150 games was -14.8; that figure was the worst among all MLB outfielders. Defensive Runs Saved paints a slightly better picture, but his -5 DRS still ties him for 40th place out of 56 qualifying outfielders. If Martinez was even average defensively, he’d no doubt be one of the top ten most valuable players in baseball. As it stands, however, he’s outside the top 40 in WAR among hitters alone across a three-year sample size.

    There’s also plenty of swing-and-miss in Martinez’ game, although it may not be a chief concern in today’s environment. His 26.2% strikeout rate was the 41st-highest among 216 MLB players with at least 400 plate appearances last year. Part of this stems from his 71.2% contact rate, which put him in the bottom eighth of baseball players in that category. It’s worth noting that Martinez improved his walk rate dramatically this year as well; his 10.8% walk rate put him in the 30th percentile. All told, high strikeout totals aren’t entirely uncommon for power hitters, but Martinez does have some of the poorest plate discipline among the elite power threats in the game. If we isolate the top 30 players in slugging percentage this past season, Martinez has the 6th-highest strikeout rate and 12th-lowest walk rate in that group.

    The mediocre plate discipline is probably worth the trade-off for his avalanche of extra base hits, but it’s tough to know whether his swing will age well. Martinez and agent Scott Boras are reportedly seeking a contract above $200MM. While few in the industry think he’ll come close to that figure, the MLBTR team predicts he’ll earn something in the range of $150MM. If a win is worth roughly $9MM on the free agent market, one would think Martinez will need to provide somewhere close to 14 wins for his new team over the life of that contract, factoring in some inflation. Over the last century, only a handful of players have produced 14 WAR or more for their entire careers with a strikeout rate above 25% and a walk rate below 11%. Those players are Chris Davis, Ryan Howard, David Ross, Colby Rasmus and Melvin Upton Jr. None of them stands out as being particularly productive beyond his age 30 season. Of course, the game is trending in more of a strikeout-heavy direction these days, so perhaps that stat shouldn’t be observed with too much gravity.

    Those readers interested in “clutch” hitters should know that Martinez hasn’t been good in high leverage situations. Since his breakout began at the start of the 2014 season, Martinez ranks dead last among 289 qualifying hitters with a -4.30 clutch rating via Fangraphs.


    With the number 611 overall pick in the 2009 draft (20th round), the Houston Astros selected Martinez out of Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He ascended quickly through the minor leagues, making his professional debut just two years later, performing as a roughly average major leaguer in half a season’s worth of at-bats. Things didn’t go well for Martinez across the next two seasons, however. He posted a .245/.295/.376 batting line from 2012-2013 and was ultimately released by Houston.

    Although his career seemed all but over after being cut by a then-cellar-dwelling Astros team, the Tigers nabbed Martinez, who had spend the offseason overhauling his swing. Early into the 2014 season, it became clear that Detroit had picked up a completely different player than the sub-replacement level outfielder who had struggled with the Astros. Martinez went on to put together a .318/.358/.553 slash line en route to 4.0 WAR and a 154 wRC+ that year, and has produced fantastic offensive numbers ever since.


    As a right-handed power hitter, Martinez would be a welcome asset to the middle of any MLB team’s batting order. However, his price tag will put him firmly out of reach for the majority of teams in smaller markets. Furthermore, the length of the contract he’ll command might give pause to NL teams, who could be concerned that his already-poor defense will decline further with age. While that certainly doesn’t eliminate NL clubs, it does mean that AL clubs (who could play him at DH in the latter years of the contract) might be willing to offer a longer deal. As MLBTR has already noted in our Top 50 Free Agents With Predictions article, the Red Sox are a very good fit. The piece also mentions the Cardinals and Giants as suitors. I’d add the Yankees and Rangers to that list as well, though both would likely need to do some creative financial work to make it possible. Perhaps a few other surprise bidders could emerge.

    Expected Contract

    The $200MM+ contract Boras is seeking for Martinez isn’t realistic. MLBTR’s initial projection of $150MM over six years is more plausible. However, it’s become evident by now that teams are willing to be patient and wait out the free agent market. Going into last offseason, Yoenis Cespedes had a similar four-year WAR output, was just a year older, and had fewer health questions; he signed a four-year, $110MM contract. Based on that, it might be safer to predict a five-year deal for Martinez. I’m going to forecast exactly that, at a $135MM guarantee.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Mariners, Giants, Padres, Rangers, Cubs, Angels Among Teams To Meet With Shohei Ohtani]]> 2017-12-04T05:40:13Z 2017-12-04T05:40:33Z 11:40pm: The Angels are indeed one of the finalists, as per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal (via Twitter).

    10:39pm: The Angels are thought by “multiple sources” to be one of the finalists, Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan tweets.  The Tigers are out of the running, according to Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press.

    8:59pm: The Rangers and Cubs will both meet with Ohtani, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports (Twitter link), and they’re also the only two non-West Coast teams who appear to still be alive in the candidate process.  The Rangers, Grant notes, have yet to comment on their status one way or the other.

    7:22pm: The Nationals won’t be receiving a meeting, the Washington Post’s Chelsea Janes reports (Twitter link).

    6:58pm: The Braves are out,’s Jerry Crasnick reports (via Twitter).

    6:50pm: The Padres will receive a meeting with Ohtani, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reports (Twitter links).  The Dodgers are also thought to still be active in the Ohtani sweepstakes though Heyman doesn’t have confirmation; regardless, the Dodgers aren’t thought to be favorites to land Ohtani.

    6:38pm: The Rays, Cardinals and White Sox are out, according to the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (all Twitter links).

    6:15pm: The Diamondbacks won’t receive a meeting, Ken Rosenthal tweets.

    6:12pm: The Blue Jays, Pirates, and Brewers are all out, as respectively reported by’s Shi Davidi,’s Adam Berry, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Haudricourt (all Twitter links).

    5:48pm: The Mets are also out, as per Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter link).

    5:38pm: Ohtani’s list is “heavy” on West Coast teams, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports, though the Cubs may still be involved.  Not every west-based team is included, however, as The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal tweets that the A’s aren’t involved.

    5:28pm: The Red Sox are also out of the running, president of baseball ops Dave Dombrowski told Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe.  The Twins also won’t be getting a meeting with Ohtani, Heyman tweets.

    5:16pm: The Giants and Mariners are among the teams that will receive meetings with Shohei Ohtani and his representatives next week, Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reports (Twitter link).  It isn’t known who the other finalists are in the Ohtani sweepstakes, though the Yankees are one of the teams that didn’t make the cut, as Yankees GM Brian Cashman told reporters (including’s Brendan Kuty and’s Bryan Hoch).

    According to Cashman, Ohtani seems to be leaning towards West Coast teams in smaller markets.  This ties to a report from FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman saying that Ohtani’s reps are informing teams that the two-way star would prefer to play in a smaller market.

    The news adds another fascinating layer to the Ohtani sweepstakes, which was already one of the more intriguing free agent pursuits in recent memory.  Given the seeming lack of immediate financial motive that inspired Ohtani’s move to Major League Baseball, it opened the door for every team in baseball (regardless of market or payroll size) to make a push for the 23-year-old.  There had been speculation that Ohtani might look to avoid playing in a larger market, so this apparent confirmation creates a realistic possibility that he will land with a team that wouldn’t normally be considered a favorite to land such a coveted free agent.

    Of course, San Francisco isn’t exactly a small market, though Ohtani wouldn’t necessarily be the center of attention on a club with such established stars as Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner (and maybe even Giancarlo Stanton in the near future).  Playing for an NL team, however, would force Ohtani into a pinch-hitting or even a part-time outfield role for the at-bats he seeks in his attempt to be a two-way player in the big leagues.  The Mariners do have such a DH spot available (in a timeshare with Nelson Cruz), and were considered to be a contender for Ohtani given their long history of Japanese players.

    The Yankees also have had several significant Japanese players on their past and current rosters, and were widely seen as one of the major favorites for Ohtani’s services from a financial (in terms of available international bonus money) and positional (openings at DH and in the rotation) standpoint, not to mention their international fame and their young core of talent ready to make a World Series push.  With Ohtani now out of the picture, the Yankees could move to signing more pitching depth — a reunion with C.C. Sabathia has been widely speculated as a possibility — or a veteran bat to serve as designated hitter, if the club doesn’t just rotate its DH days to find plate appearances for everyone on the current roster.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Exploring Low-Cost Pitching Options For The Tigers]]> 2017-12-04T04:03:48Z 2017-12-04T04:03:48Z
  • The Tigers figure to add multiple starting pitchers this winter, though as The Athletic’s Katie Strang notes, those arms will come in the form of inexpensive MLB and minor league signings and possibly a Rule 5 Draft pick.  Names like Clay Buchholz, Drew Smyly or Nick Burdi could fit, though the latter two are recovering from Tommy John surgery and could be tough fits on the 40-man roster.
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    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[AL Central Notes: Twins, Tigers, Abreu]]> 2017-12-02T22:45:06Z 2017-12-02T18:21:22Z Darren Wolfson of KSTP tweeted today that while the Twins remain “engaged and interested” in regards to a few big name free agent pitchers, there’s no indication yet that they are “in heavily” on anyone. While that can change quickly, Wolfson acknowledges that the trade market is also a very real possibility. It would seem that Minnesota is in a position to take their time in exploring all possible options. It makes plenty of sense to wonder whether the Twins might wait to see where Shohei Ohtani signs before making any significant pitching acquisitions. The market for pitching is likely to hold fast until the two-way Japanese sensation picks a landing spot, and on the off-chance that he chooses Minnesota, they might be able to focus their resources on other areas of the roster. A particularly weak bullpen comes to mind as another area the Twins will need to improve upon if they expect to contend again in 2018.

    More notes out of the American League’s central division…

    • While the Tigers probably won’t be serious pursuers of big name free agents this offseason, Katie Strang of The Athletic provides a short list of potential bargain buys for a depleted Detroit rotation. Strang notes that Michael Fulmer is coming off elbow surgery, while veteran Jordan Zimmerman has spent the offseason overhauling his delivery in hopes to return to form after a disastrous 2017 season. Beyond them, Matthew Boyd and Daniel Norris aren’t sure bets to hold down rotation spots. Chris Tillman, Miles Mikolas and Clay Buchholz are some interesting names Strang suggests as options for the Tigers to explore. While none are particularly exciting, they all have some upside as comeback players and could eat innings for Detroit in 2018.
    • Although the Red Sox are players for White Sox slugger Jose AbreuScott Lauber of ESPN notes that the south siders are reportedly asking for “an arm and a leg” in exchange for their first baseman. Boston might not have the prospects necessary to swing a deal; the White Sox were able to land huge hauls for Chris Sale and Adam Eaton last offseason and might be holding out for a similar return for Abreu. The Cuban native has put up a .301/.359/.524 batting line for his four-year major league career. His slugging percentage and 124 home runs both rank 13th in the majors during that span, while his 410 RBI rank 5th. MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk recently detailed the trade market for Abreu.
    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Quick Hits: MiLB Market, Tigers, Non-Tenders, Ohtani]]> 2017-12-02T22:44:17Z 2017-12-02T16:52:50Z It’s no secret that the market for MLB players has been shockingly cold to date. Ironically, the fact that there are so few stories has become one of the biggest stories of the offseason. But what has perhaps gone somewhat overlooked is the slow crawl of the minor league free agent market. In a piece for Baseball America, Matt Eddy details the frigid minor league market to date. He notes that nearly five times as many minor league free agents had signed contracts by this point last offseason, and quotes an agent describing the “trickle-down” effect of the slow major league free agent market. “Teams are (emphasizing) ‘delay, delay, delay,’ hoping for players to get desperate and start signing lower deals.” says one agent via Eddy. This tactic to drive down the asking prices of MLB free agents could end up reducing the eventual contracts of MiLB free agents as well. While the worst-case scenario for major leaguers is a smaller guarantee, the fear for minor league free agents is that they might not end up with a team at all if they wait too long to sign.

    More from around baseball…

    • Emily Waldon of The Athletic points out that Detroit has just one available spot on the 40-man roster, along with the first pick in the Rule 5 Draft. It will certainly be a valuable pick, and with the rebuilding Tigers not expected to contend this year, they should easily be able to keep their selection on their big league roster throughout the 2018 season. Waldon also provides some notes on former Tigers who are now with new organizations, as well as a few interesting minor leaguers who are making impressions in winter ball. It’s great material for Detroit fans who are looking for some storylines to follow during a rebuilding season.
    • With the non-tender deadline yesterday, many new names were added to the free agent pool. Mark Feinsand of lists six players he thinks are likely to draw significant interest from major league clubs. Feinsand provides some helpful details on those players, including the likes of Matt Adams and Drew Smyly. It’s helpful for anyone looking speculate on how the non-tender free agents could potentially impact the free agent market.
    • With the posting of Shohei Ohtani recently becoming official, ESPN’s Keith Law reveals some secondhand info he’s compiled from scouts who have seen the Japanese phenom play. Although Ohtani is able to reach the 100 MPH threshold, most scouts say the velocity of his fastball plays down a bit due to lack of movement. Many scouts also express skepticism about his ability to hit in the major leagues, citing concerns over his capabilities to both shorten his swing enough to cover the inner third of the plate and develop a “real” two-strike approach. There also seems to be some concerns about his durability and how he’ll deal with the fatigue of both pitching and hitting throughout a full season.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[2017 Non-Tenders]]> 2017-12-02T07:43:50Z 2017-12-02T01:10:38Z The deadline to tender 2018 contracts to players is tonight at 8pm EST. We’ll keep track of the day’s non-tenders in this post (all referenced arbitration projections courtesy of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz) …

    • The Giants non-tendered righty Albert Suarez, Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area tweets. Suarez, 28, was not yet eligible for arbitration.
    • Righty Tom Koehler and infielder Ryan Goins are heading to the open market after being non-tendered by the Blue Jays, per a team announcement.
    • The Rays announced that lefty Xavier Cedeno has been non-tendered, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets.
    • The Cubs non-tendered catcher Taylor Davis, per a team announcement. He was not yet eligible for arbitration.
    • Four Rangers players have not been tendered contracts, per a club announcement. Righties Chi Chi Gonzalez, A.J. Griffin, and Nick Martinez have been cut loose along with infielder Hanser Alberto. Griffin ($3.0MM projection) and Martinez ($2.0MM) were both noted as non-tender candidates by MLBTR. The other two players were not yet eligible for arbitration. Gonzalez was a former first-round pick who had struggled of late and underwent Tommy John surgery in July.
    • The Diamondbacks have also non-tendered lefty T.J. McFarland, who had projected at a $1.0MM salary.
    • The Reds non-tendered lefty Kyle Crockett, a pre-arb lefty who was only recently claimed on waivers, per a club announcement.
    • Per a club announcement, the Brewers have non-tendered veteran righty Jared Hughes. He will end up being the only 40-man player not to receive a contract from Milwaukee. Hughes had projected at a $2.2MM arbitration value. The 32-year-old is a master at inducing grounders and has turned in repeatedly excellent results. He also averaged a career-best 93.9 mph on his sinker in 2017.
    • The Mariners have non-tendered lefty Drew Smyly and righty Shae Simmons, per a club announcement. While the former was expected, due to Smyly’s Tommy John surgery, the latter rates as something of a surprise given his cheap $700K projection. Of course, it’s possible the club is not optimistic of his chances of bouncing back from arm troubles.
    • The White Sox will not tender a contract to reliever Jake Petricka, per SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (via Twitter). He had projected to take home $1.1MM in his second trip through the arb process. Also non-tendered, per a club announcement, were righties Zach Putnam and Al Alburquerque as well as infielder Alan Hanson.
    • It seems that righty Bruce Rondon will wind up his tenure with the Tigers, as the organization is set to non-tender him, per Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free-Press (via Twitter). Rondon was long viewed as a potential late-inning arm for the Tigers, but had some notable run-ins with the organization, struggled with control, and never consistently produced at the MLB level. Though he projected to earn just $1.2MM, Rondon will be allowed to find a new organization. He will turn 26 later this month.
    • The Diamondbacks will non-tender righty J.J. Hoover, per SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (via Twitter). Hoover projected at just $1.6MM, but Arizona is watching every penny as it seeks to return to the postseason with a tight payroll situation. The 30-year-old turned in 41 1/3 innings of 3.92 ERA ball in 2017 with 11.8 K/9 but also 5.7 BB/9 on the year.
    • The Royals announced that they have non-tendered outfielder Terrance Gore. Though Gore was not eligible for arbitration, teams occasionally utilize today’s deadline to prune their 40-man rosters. Gore had quite an interesting run with Kansas City, scarcely playing at all during the regular season and then appearing as a speed-and-defense asset in the team’s two storied postseason runs. Now, though the fleet-footed 26-year-old is out of options. With an upper minors OPS that hovers just over .600, Gore just was not going to break camp with the club. It seems reasonable to think there’s a chance he’ll return to the organization on a minors deal, though Gore will also have a shot at exploring the broader market.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Tigers Weighing Arbitration Decisions On Bruce Rondon, Alex Wilson]]> 2017-12-01T07:33:39Z 2017-12-01T07:30:01Z
  • Speaking of pen pieces at risk, the Tigers landed two players on our list: righties Bruce Rondon ($1.2MM projection) and Alex Wilson ($2.1MM). Evan Woodberry of tweets that both are indeed potential non-tender candidates for Detroit, but both are not necessarily going to be cut loose. In Woodberry’s estimation, the volatile Rondon is somewhat likely to be cut loose after allowing 19 earned runs in his 15 2/3 MLB innings in 2017. Though he continued to show swing-and-miss stuff, and posted a 2.70 ERA in his 36 2/3 frames at Triple-A, Rondon struggled to limit the free passes. As for the 31-year-old Wilson, it’s something of the opposite scenario for Woodberry. He says that he expects Wilson will be tendered despite a middling 4.50 ERA in his most recent season. The veteran did post similar K/BB figures to those that allowed him to generate better results in prior campaigns.
  • ]]>
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Tigers Acquire Cash From Cubs To Complete Wilson/Avila Trade]]> 2017-12-01T06:32:23Z 2017-12-01T04:30:02Z
  • The Tigers announced that they have completed their summer swap with the Cubs by acquiring cash rather than a player to be named. That deal sent Jeimer Candelario and Isaac Paredes to Detroit in exchange for veterans Justin Wilson and Alex Avila. The amount of cash that’s now changing hands isn’t known. Obviously, the key to this deal from the Tigers’ perspective was Candelario. The 24-year-old had an impressive initial showing upon reaching the majors with his new organization, slashing .330/.406/.468 in 106 plate appearances.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Tigers Interested In Chris Tillman]]> 2017-11-30T03:34:57Z 2017-11-30T03:34:57Z Though he’s coming off a huge season split between the Tigers and Cubs, catcher Alex Avila said on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM today that he’s open to a backup role on a contending team (Twitter link). Avila explains that his “number one” priority is signing with a team that has an opportunity to reach the postseason, rather than guaranteeing himself a starting job on a team that is less of a clear-cut contender. Set to turn 31 in January, Avila batted .264/.387/.447 with 14 homers in 376 plate appearances this past season. He also ranked second in the Majors in hard-contact rate (min. 300 PAs) and tied for 18th in average exit velocity (min. 100 batted balls). The Nationals, D-backs and Rockies are among the expected contenders that could add a new starting catcher, while several playoff clubs could look to augment their backup catching option.

    • In need of a fifth starter, the Tigers have had preliminary talks with right-hander Chris Tillman, tweets Jon Morosi of The longtime Orioles righty is coming off the worst season of his career and represents a nice rebound option that the rebuilding Tigers could look to as a potential summer trade chip if he can regain his form. Tillman, 30 next April, had the start of his season delayed by shoulder problems and pitched to a ghastly 7.84 ERA with 6.1 K/9, 4.9 BB/9 and 2.32 HR/9 in 93 innings when healthy. While those numbers are tough to look at, the former second-rounder was Baltimore’s most consistent starter from 2012-16, when he pitched 844 2/3 innings of 3.81 ERA ball. From 2013-16, Tillman averaged 32 starts and 190 innings per season with a 3.91 ERA. MLBTR ranked him 47th on our top 50 free agent list, pegging him for a one-year, $10MM contract in Detroit.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Nationals Have Interest In Jordan Zimmermann]]> 2017-11-25T21:55:49Z 2017-11-25T21:55:49Z
  • The Nationals are interested in reuniting with righty Jordan Zimmermann, but the Tigers would unsurprisingly have to eat some of his contract, according to Cafardo. Zimmermann was at his best with the Nats from 2011-15, but he has experienced a sharp decline since signing a five-year, $110MM pact with Detroit entering the 2016 campaign. The 31-year-old has pitched to an ugly 5.60 ERA in 265 1/3 innings as a Tiger and is owed an unpalatable $74MM over the next three seasons.

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    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Tigers, Blaine Hardy Avoid Arbitration]]> 2017-11-26T22:51:34Z 2017-11-25T15:39:04Z The Tigers have announced that they’ve agreed to terms on a one-year contract with left-handed reliever Blaine Hardy in order to avoid arbitration.  Hardy will earn around $750K in the deal, according to Tony Paul of the Detroit News (Twitter link), which is slightly below the $800K that MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projected Hardy would earn in the southpaw’s first year of arbitration eligibility.

    Hardy has split time between Detroit and Triple-A Toledo during the past two seasons, performing just below replacement level in 2017. His best season in the majors came back in 2015, when he spent the entire year in the big leagues and posted a 3.08 ERA and 2.89 FIP across 70 appearances. The southpaw throws his 90 MPH fastball and his changeup most of the time, occasionally mixing in a curveball and a slider. Although his 5.94 ERA in 2017 isn’t exciting, he’s shown better results in previous years and is used against both left-handed and right-handed hitters.

    The team also officially announced the signings of four players to minor-league deals, all with invites to spring training. Those players are right-handers Kevin Comer and Mark Montgomery, infielder Niko Goodrum and outfielder Chad Huffman.

    Comer, 25, has spent most of his career in the Astros organization, reaching the Triple-A level for the first time in 2017. The righty reliever has shown a propensity for notching K’s; he struck out 10.46 batters per nine innings for the Fresno Grizzlies this past season. He had trouble limiting walks (3.96 BB/9), but his strikeout upside could help him force his way into a desperate Tigers bullpen; Detroit’s relievers were the only relief group in the majors to post a combine for below-replacement level production in 2017.

    Montgomery has also never played in the big leagues, but showed great command at the Triple-A level within the Cardinals organization this past year. The former 11th round pick of the Yankees notched nearly five strikeouts for every walk he issued, while posting a 2.43 ERA across 66 2/3 innings. Interestingly, he only made 46 appearances, implying that he was being utilized as a multi-inning reliever a good portion of the time.

    The 25-year-old Goodrum has never known any organization other than the Twins, who drafted him in the second round back in 2010. The 6’3″ switch-hitter made his major league debut in September, compiling 18 plate appearances and striking out in ten of them. He did manage to hit 13 homers and steal 11 bases at Triple-A Rochester, however, and is seemingly capable of providing good defense at second base.

    Though Huffman debuted in the major leagues in 2010, he only played in 9 games with the Yankees and didn’t make it back to the MLB level until this past season. The righty-hitting outfielder accrued 15 plate appearances with the Cardinals in September, and reached base in five of them. Huffman will return to a Tigers organization for whose Triple-A affiliate he posted a .286/.387/.505 batting line in 511 plate appearances back in 2016.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[On Ian Kinsler's No-Trade Rights, Possible Interest As Third Baseman]]> 2017-11-23T14:01:41Z 2017-11-22T16:37:32Z
  • Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler does not enjoy quite so much control over his own fate, but does have a ten-team no-trade list that was drawn up at the end of the 2017 campaign.* Katie Strang of The Athletic (subscription link) has the latest on his interesting trade candidacy, including a look at the feasibility of a move to third for the veteran — which some teams have reportedly considered as they weigh an offer to acquire him. At present, it is not publicly known which teams have contemplated that possibility or — yet more importantly — which are among those that cannot acquire Kinsler without his consent. The Detroit organization would obviously need to work with Kinsler and his representatives if it were to find a match with one of the ten protected rivals, but Strang reports that, at least as of last week, that subject has not yet been broached. As we discussed in examining his potential market yesterday, there are perhaps only a few very clear trade matches on paper at this point, though certainly a fair number of others could be imagined depending upon a variety of factors. Kinsler’s no-trade rights may not come into play at all, but might also afford him an opportunity to nix a move if it is not to his liking.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 11/21/17]]> 2017-11-22T03:50:24Z 2017-11-22T03:50:24Z Here are the day’s minor moves from around the league…

    • Infielder Niko Goodrum has agreed to a minor league deal with the Tigers, according to his agents at Reynolds Sports Management (on Twitter). The longtime Twins farmhand made his big league debut as a September callup in 2017 but logged just 18 plate appearances for a Twins team that couldn’t afford to give many at-bats to unproven talent as it fought for a playoff spot. The 25-year-old (26 in February) switch-hitter batted .265/.309/.425 in his first taste of Triple-A this past season and has batted .258/.344/.419 in parts of two Double-A seasons. A former second-round pick (2010), Goodrum has primarily been a shortstop in the minors but also has considerable experience at third base, second base and in the outfield corners.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Looking For A Match In An Ian Kinsler Trade]]> 2017-11-21T21:03:22Z 2017-11-21T19:36:36Z The offseason is off to a sluggish start, due perhaps to the ongoing trade talks involving Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton and the as-yet unresolved posting situation of Shohei Ohtani. Resolution on both matters may well come before long. In the meantime, we’re left to wonder which dominoes might be first to be knocked over thereafter — or, perhaps, whether some other transactions could jumpstart the action.

    One player who we have consistently labeled a clear trade candidate is Ian Kinsler of the Tigers. He’s a quality veteran with one year left on his contract who’s currently employed by an organization that’s clearly rebuilding. And Detroit’s top baseball executive, Al Avila, has hardly made a secret of the club’s interest in taking offers.

    Aug 26, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Detroit Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler (3) attempts a double play after getting Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu (79) out during the fourth inning at Guaranteed Rate Field. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

    With that in mind, it’s worth analyzing his market. Let’s start by sketching the asset under question. Kinsler is set to earn a manageable $11MM salary this year before reaching the open market. Though he’s 35 years of age and hit just .236/.313/.412 last year, Kinsler made plenty of hard contact and was likely somewhat unfortunate to carry a .244 batting average on balls in play. He also produced at a much loftier .288/.348/.484 clip the season prior and has a history of solidly above-average offensive work. Perhaps even more importantly, Kinsler has long rated as a superior defender and has been exceptionally durable, reaching 600 plate appearances every year since 2011.

    There are other players available at second base, which will have an impact. On the trade side, Dee Gordon of the Marlins is much younger and comes at a similar annual cost over a three-year term, while the Phillies could be willing to deal the youthful and inexpensive Cesar Hernandez. Neil Walker is the top available free agent, with Howie Kendrick and Brandon Phillips among the other potential alternatives. Still, no other player carries quite the profile of Kinsler, whose reliability and palatable contract hold obvious appeal.

    There are a few other considerations that could enter the picture. Per’s Jon Morosi, via Twitter, at least some organizations have considered acquiring Kinsler with the intention of utilizing him at third base. That’s a bit of a surprise, given that Kinsler is about as entrenched as any player at his usual position and has no more than nominal experience at third as a professional. Even if he can handle the hot corner, the added uncertainty would seem to reduce some of the very features that make Kinsler such an appealing target in the first place. It also may tie into his limited no-trade rights, which allow him to block deals to ten teams (though we don’t know which for the current season). While we don’t know for certain just what considerations will drive Kinsler’s views, it stands to reason that he’d be open to moving to a contending team at this stage.

    With all that out of the way … where might Kinsler represent a match?

    Angels — The Halos are already rumored to be looking at Kinsler, among other options. The organization has a clear need at second, possesses the payroll space and the competitive desire for this sort of player, and recently dealt for Justin Upton from Detroit. As fits go, this is about as clean as it gets. Of course, every other second baseman or team with one to trade will also be engaged with L.A. GM Billy Eppler, and he’ll likely shop around for value.

    Blue Jays — While the Jays are in need up the middle, it’s not obvious from the outside that Kinser would really make the most sense. On the one hand, if Kinsler is willing to move around a bit, he’d look to be a solid match for the club’s stated desire in a utility player that might see near-regular action. On the other, he may or may not embrace that sort of role — which would be of particular relevance if the Jays are on Kinsler’s no-trade list. Indeed, Kinsler has reportedly nixed a move to Toronto previousy. It’s conceivable that the Jays could get creative, perhaps using Devon Travis as the utility-oriented player and installing Kinsler full-time at second, but that’s entering the realm of messy speculation.

    Braves — Atanta is one of the organizations that could in theory view Kinsler as an option at third. He’d represent a solid veteran presence, plug a need (if he and the team are comfortable with making that position change), and avoid clogging the future balance sheet or blocking prospect Austin Riley in the future. At the same time, new GM Alex Anthopoulos is just settling in and it’s not yet entirely clear how he’ll proceed this winter. File the Braves under “not inconceivable but not outwardly likely.”

    Brewers — There was some rumored interest from Milwaukee in Kinsler at the trade deadline and the Brewers haven’t yet firmed things up at second. There are options on hand, as the club struck a new contract with Eric Sogard and still has Jonathan Villar. And Milwaukee might like the idea of pursuing Neil Walker, who was the player ultimately added over the summer. Generally, though, acquiring Kinsler might allow the Brewers to boost their chances at competition without a huge outlay or long-term commitment, so they seem to be one of the more promising fits.

    Giants — Third base is open; as above, then, this is a speculative fit in that regard. San Francisco has reportedly also at least engaged in some thought of trade permutations that might involve current second bagger Joe Panik, though at present it hardly seems likely that he’ll end up moving. Particularly if the team ends up breaking the bank to add Giancarlo Stanton or otherwise makes significant moves toward a rebound, Kinsler could make for a good value that wouldn’t compound the team’s concerns about adding aging veterans on lengthy contracts.

    Mets — We’ve seen the Mets connected to Kinsler and the team is definitely weighing its options at second, so this makes immediate sense on paper. New York is believed to be working with some payroll restraints, though, so other moves could foreclose Kinsler as a plausible option. On the other hand, the team may like the idea of gaining a boost without adding too much salary, so it’s also imaginable that it would pursue Kinsler and then try to find cheaper upgrades in its other areas of need. (There are quite a few options in the first base/corner outfield market that the team is also exploring.)

    RoyalsWhit Merrifield established himself at second, but perhaps he or Kinsler could be options at third. The Royals will be walking a fine line this winter, weighing the risks of a big payroll with the desire to sustain competitiveness and perhaps bring back one or two of its own star free agents. It’s not impossible to imagine Kinsler fitting in if the team manages to land Eric Hosmer and wants to install a solid veteran without tacking onto the future balance sheets, though it’s an awfully tight fit at first glance.

    That really represents the field of the most likely suitors, as things stand. Roster changes can always shake things up, of course, and organizations such as the Yankees and Cardinals could in theory end up seeing Kinsler as an option at second or third if they first line up corresponding moves involving existing players. (At least some chatter has suggested those teams are considering infield moves, though it’s exceedingly speculative at present.) Somewhat similarly, the Dodgers reputedly had interest in Kinsler in the past, but they picked up their option over Logan Forsythe and it’s tough to imagine both fitting sensibly on that roster. There’s a match in terms of potential need for some other clubs — the Pirates, Diamondbacks, and Rays, for example — but the payroll limitations at play in those situations make it difficult to imagine without several intervening developments first coming to pass.

    All told, then, the clearest matches on paper exist with three organizations. The Angels, Brewers, and Mets could all simply install Kinsler as an everyday option at second without significantly altering other aspects of their roster construction. But other transactions could create new fits, and it’s also far too soon to rule out other clubs getting a bit creative.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Tigers Sign Ryan Carpenter]]> 2017-11-21T01:14:25Z 2017-11-21T01:14:25Z The Tigers have signed lefty Ryan Carpenter to a MLB deal, per a club announcement. He’ll join the 40-man roster along with a long list of players whose contracts were selected to protect them from the Rule 5 draft.

    Detroit has selected the contracts of the following players:

    Carpenter is a 27-year-old hurler who became a minor-league free agent after the 2017 campaign. He could be an option in the rotation or the pen. Last year, Carpenter worked to a 4.15 ERA in 156 frames for Triple-A Albuquerque, recording 9.3 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 along the way.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Mets, Tigers Have Discussed Ian Kinsler]]> 2017-11-21T04:38:46Z 2017-11-20T23:44:50Z The Mets have discussed trade scenarios involving veteran second baseman Ian Kinsler with the Tigers, according to a report from MLB Network’s Jon Morosi (via Twitter). Those talks are preliminary in nature, per the report.

    Kinsler, 35, is expected to draw wide interest from teams that are looking for a quality veteran to plug into their everyday lineup without undertaking a lengthy commitment. The 12-year major leaguer is set to earn $11MM this year before reaching free agency.

    For the Mets, there’s an obvious hole at second base that remains to be filled. With Neil Walker gone and Asdrubal Cabrera slated to step over to third base, the team doesn’t have a clear option at second.

    To be sure, there are 40-man members that could play there: Wilmer Flores, Matt Reynolds, Gavin Cecchini, and T.J. Rivera. But none seem to be regular options. Flores has shown a solid bat at the game’s highest level but has mostly been utilized in a utility capacity. Reynolds and Cecchini have not hit much in their limited MLB action. And though Rivera has shown some promise since reaching the majors, he’s expected to miss time early after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

    It’s not hard to see the appeal, then, in Kinsler. He is coming off of a down season at the plate, in which he slashed just .236/.313/.412 after a string of above-average offensive campaigns. But he remained a top-end defender and has long been one of the sport’s steadier players.

    While Kinsler does have partial no-trade protection, indications are he’d be amenable to waiving it given where things are headed for the Tigers. It seems exceedingly likely that he’ll end up changing hands this winter.

    It’s worth noting, too, that Morosi says some clubs are also considering Kinsler as an option at third base. (Twitter link.) Kinsler has scant experience at the hot corner — two MLB innings and ten in the minors — but that idea might conceivably open up his market to some additional suitors.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Tigers Sign Edwin Espinal To Minors Deal]]> 2017-11-19T16:08:51Z 2017-11-19T16:08:51Z
  • The Tigers have signed corner infielder Edwin Espinal to a minor league contract, the player announced on Instagram (h/t: Evan Woodbery of, on Twitter). Detroit’s the second major league organization for the 23-year-old Espinal, who spent the first seven seasons of his pro career with the Pirates. A .279/.323/.389 hitter in 2,435 lifetime minor league plate appearances, Espinal reached the Triple-A level for the first time in 2017 and batted .323/.341/.369 with no home runs across 135 PAs. He shined more as a defensive first baseman, taking home a Gold Glove Award for his work at the minors’ two highest levels.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Tigers Looking To Balance Lineup]]> 2017-11-19T03:43:13Z 2017-11-19T03:41:53Z
  • Aside from switch-hitters Victor Martinez and Jeimer Candelario, the Tigers don’t have lefty-capable regulars on their roster at the moment. General manager Al Avila is looking to change that this winter. “We’re very right-handed, so left-handed anything — infield and outfield — would be very handy for us as far as somebody that could help at the Major League level in 2018,” Avila told Jason Beck of and other reporters this week. Given that the Tigers are in rebuilding mode, any move(s) they make to balance their lineup will be small, Beck notes.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Angels Considering Ian Kinsler, Neil Walker, Zack Cozart]]> 2017-11-26T18:19:38Z 2017-11-16T01:05:09Z The Angels have had “extensive” internal discussions about the possibility of acquiring Ian Kinsler from the Tigers, reports Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press. While Fenech notes that it’s not yet clear if the two sides have opened negotiations this offseason, he adds that the Halos’ interest in Kinsler dates back to late last season.

    While Kinsler is certainly a logical target for any club in need of a second baseman, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register casts some doubt onto how seriously they’ll actually pursue a trade for the 35-year-old (Twitter link). Fletcher points out that Kinsler is probably a genuine consideration, it’s unlikely that he sits atop the Halos’ list of targets due to the fact that he’s a right-handed bat and would only represent a one-year solution.

    Two players that also appear to be on the Angels’ list of targets are free agents Neil Walker and Zack Cozart, per ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link). As Crasnick notes, though, it’s not clear if Cozart would be willing to move off of shortstop. He’s also a right-handed bat, though perhaps the Angels would live with that in order to have a defensively gifted middle-infield duo of Andrelton Simmons and Cozart for the foreseeable future.

    Kinsler had a down year at the plate in 2017, hitting .236/.313/.412 in 613 plate appearances. Though his average, OBP and slugging marks all fell off considerably from a superlative 2016 season (.288/.348/.484), Kinsler still connected on 22 homers this past season and exhibited other encouraging signs.

    For starters, the nine percent walk rate Kinsler logged in 2017 was his highest since the 2011 season, and his 14 percent strikeout rate was not only an improvement over the ’16 campaign but also tied for the 27th-lowest mark among qualified big league hitters. Kinsler’s 37 percent hard-contact rate was the highest mark of his career as well, but despite the uptick in hard-hit balls his BABIP plummeted to .244. Granted, some of that is attributable to a career-worst 14.4 percent infield fly rate, but the rest of his batted-ball profile suggests that Kinsler could be due for some better fortune in 2018. On the defensive side of the coin, Kinsler remains an excellent option and one of the more underrated defensive players in all of baseball, regardless of position.

    Walker, 32, is the most obvious fit on the free-agent market. The switch-hitting second baseman would add the lineup balance that the Angels seem to crave, and he’s been an above-average hitter and steady defender at second base throughout his big league career. The limited number of teams aggressively pursuing second base upgrades and some recent durability issues could suppress Walker’s price point as well; we pegged him for a two-year deal worth $11MM per year on our top 50 free agent list, and while a third year is possible, it’d be a genuine surprise to Walker command anything longer than that.

    Cozart is perhaps the most intriguing option of the bunch. The longtime Reds shortstop had a breakout season at the plate in his age-32 season, batting a ridiculous .297/.385/.548 with 24 homers in just 507 trips to the plate. Durability is a very real knock on Cozart, who hasn’t played more than 122 games in a season since 2014 due to a torn knee ligament (2014) and myriad hamstring and quadriceps issues across the past two seasons.

    There are also skeptics when it comes to Cozart’s age-32 breakout, but even if his bat settles in at the .271/.340/.480 (115 OPS+) that he’s averaged across the past three seasons, that above-average output and Cozart’s strong glovework would make him an immensely valuable asset. As Crasnick alludes to, however, Cozart is a sterling defensive shortstop and it’s not known if he’d be willing to change positions to better position himself on the open market.

    Regardless of the order of their preferences, it seems clear that the Halos are likely to add a second base upgrade this winter. The position is an easily identifiable area of need, as Angels second basemen collectively posted a ghastly .206/.274/.327 batting line in 2017, making them one of the two least-productive second base units in all of Major League Baseball. (The Rangers, weighed down by a dismal season from Rougned Odor, struggled similarly.)

    In addition to the options listed by Fenech and Crasnick, the trade market contains options such as Dee Gordon and Cesar Hernandez, as well as more speculative candidates like Scooter Gennett, Jonathan Villar and Joe Panik (to name only a few).

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Tigers Drawing Interest In Ian Kinsler]]> 2017-11-14T21:01:15Z 2017-11-14T17:25:37Z
  • The Tigers are diving right into talks on several players, GM Al Avila told reporters including Evan Woodberry of (via Twitter). Avila said he has already discussed a few of the team’s players with rival organizations, including veteran second baseman Ian Kinsler. Detroit is also preparing to make some difficult 40-man roster decisions, Woodberry reports. Indeed, Avila says the process of whittling the players to protect from the Rule 5 draft has been “excruciating and painful.”
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Tigers, Cubs Still Haven't Finalized July Trade]]> 2017-11-13T00:04:46Z 2017-11-12T22:40:35Z
  • The Cubs and Tigers still haven’t finalized the trade they made in July that saw reliever Justin Wilson and catcher Alex Avila head to Chicago for third baseman Jeimer Candelario, infielder Isaac Paredes and a player to be named later or cash, Mark Anderson of Baseball Prospectus tweets. It turns out the Tigers will receive the PTBNL in lieu of cash, but the teams haven’t decided on which player yet.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Kinsler Falls Shy Of Gold Glove, Misses $1MM Bonus]]> 2017-11-10T22:29:49Z 2017-11-10T22:29:15Z The results of this year’s Gold Glove Awards voting came in earlier this week, and in the American League it was Brian Dozier taking home his first career Gold Glove at second base. Dozier took home a standard $25K bonus for that distinction, but the more notable financial component of the award is that Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler did not take home the $1MM bonus he’d have received for capturing a second Gold Glove honor. Kinsler’s 2017 option vested based on plate appearances back in September, but his salary would’ve risen from $11MM to $12MM had he landed the extra hardware. The $1MM difference in his salary won’t have much of an impact on his overall trade stock, but it’s still of minor note for both the Tigers and interested parties as Detroit explores trade scenarios for its longtime second baseman this winter.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 11/7/17]]> 2017-11-07T14:36:10Z 2017-11-07T14:36:10Z After a busy transactional day yesterday, let’s catch up on some of the latest minor moves:

    • Catcher Bryan Holaday and outfielder Alex Presley have elected free agency from the Tigers, Evan Woodberry of reports on Twitter. Each of the veterans was outrighted recently, though Woodberry hints that Detroit has interest in bringing both back on minors deals. Holaday will enter the pool of catchers that are looking for opportunities to compete for reserve jobs in camp. The 32-year-old Presley should also draw attention from other organizations; he turned in 264 plate appearances of .314/.354/.416 hitting in 2017.
    • The Rockies selected the contract of outfielder Noel Cuevas, per a club announcement. Acquired from the division-rival Dodgers in the trade that sent Juan Nicasio to Los Angeles, Cuevas blossomed at Triple-A Alburquerque in 2017. Across 528 plate appearances, he posted a .312/.353/.487 slash with 15 long balls and 16 steals.
    • Two players were also added to the Yankees 40-man roster, the club announced. Outfielder Jake Cave is one of them; the one-time Rule 5 pick won’t be eligible for the draft again this year. He turned in a compelling season in the upper minors, including a robust .324/.367/.554 batting line with 15 long balls in 297 Triple-A plate appearances. Joining him is righty Nick Rumbelow, who returned from Tommy John surgery with aplomb last year. Over 40 1/3 innings, he allowed just five earned runs on 21 hits while racking up a 45:11 K/BB ratio.
    • The Indians selected the contract of Eric Haase, per the transactions page. The 24-year-old backstop knocked around Double-A pitching to the tune of a .258/.349/.574 batting line and 26 homers through 381 plate appearances.
    • Cuban catcher Lorenzo Quintana is joining the Astros for a $200K bonus, per’s Jesse Sanchez (via Twitter). The 28-year-old is not subject to international signing restrictions. Quintana was long one of the most productive receivers in Cuba’s Serie Nacional, carrying a lifetime .310/.377/.438 batting line, but he last played there in the 2014-15 season.
    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[AL Notes: Cora, Tigers, Astros]]> 2017-11-06T05:33:18Z 2017-11-06T04:56:45Z There are many reasons that Alex Cora is the right man to manage the Red Sox. As Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald points out, the fact that he’s Latino only adds to that list. Cora is the 47th manager in the history of the Red Sox franchise, and, up until now, every single one of them had been white. The former middle infielder will be involved with a front office that is mostly white while managing a team on the field that has often been predominantly black and hispanic. Red Sox CEO Sam Kennedy has stressed that Cora’s minority status is “a bonus rather than impetus”, but regardless, it looks great for a franchise that took 12 years longer to integrate their roster than the first MLB team to do so. Interestingly, Silverman notes that in 2017, 43 percent of major league baseball players were players of color, while only three of 30 managers were non-white.

    More from around the AL…

    • While Tigers are unlikely to make any significant additions to their major league roster this winter, Evan Woodbery of says that the organization will be very active on the minor league free agent market. Detroit will focus on making moves to bolster their depth at Triple-A Toledo and will hope to “find a diamond in the rough or lightning in the bottle”, according to GM Al Avila. Woodbery lists 23 players in the Tigers’ system who are eligible to become minor league free agents, and while many of those will probably re-sign with the organization, it seems likely there will be some shuffling of their Double- and Triple-A rosters this winter.
    • Three and a half years ago, an article appeared in Sports Illustrated with a prediction that the Astros would win the 2017 World Series. This past Thursday, Ben Reiter of Sports Illustrated explains why he’s predicting a repeat for the Astros in 2018. Although only two teams have been able to win back-to-back championships since the 70’s, Reiter cites a powerhouse offense that will only lose Cameron Maybin and Carlos Beltran as a big reason the Astros can accomplish the feat next year. He also points out that more young reinforcements are on the way in five-tool left-handed outfielder Kyle Tucker and towering right-handed pitcher Forrest Whitley. While Reiter cites the bullpen as an area of need, he concludes that the Astros are “unusually well-positioned to hang onto the crown”.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Tigers Decline Anibal Sanchez’s Option, Outright Eight Players]]> 2017-11-03T22:20:42Z 2017-11-03T22:20:58Z TODAY, 5:12pm: The Tigers have also outrighted catcher Bryan Holaday and first baseman Efren Navarro. Both are eligible to decline the assignments and instead elect free agency, though they’ll qualify for minor-league free agency in a few days regardless.

    Holaday, 29, saw brief action for the Tigers this year and spent most of the season at Triple-A. He slashed .269/.325/.450 over 347 plate appearances at Toledo and will certainly land somewhere as a depth option. As for the 31-year-old Navarro, it was much the same story. He saw 557 plate appearances at Triple-A, posting a .276/.370/.395 batting line.

    YESTERDAY, 9:10pm: Detroit has also placed righty Myles Jaye and lefty Kyle Ryan on outright waivers, per Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free-Press (via Twitter).

    The 25-year-old Jaye cracked the bigs for the first time, but received a rude welcome. In 12 2/3 frames, including two starts and three relief appearances, he was tagged for 17 earned runs and managed just four strikeouts against ten walks. That said, Jaye has been a steadier option in the upper minors; in 25 starts in the Detroit system in 2017, he compiled 131 2/3 innings of 3.96 ERA ball with 7.9 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9.

    As for Ryan, 26, he has thrown 128 MLB innings over the past four seasons and was rather effective in 2016. But he struggled badly in just eight major league appearances in the 2017 campaign. In his 45 1/3 Triple-A frames, Ryan managed only a 4.96 ERA with 7.7 K/9 and 5.4 BB/9.

    1:43pm: The Tigers announced that they have formally declined their $16MM club option on right-hander Anibal Sanchez, opting instead for a $5MM buyout. Additionally, the Tigers announced that right-hander Jeff Ferrell and outfielders Tyler Collins, Jim Adduci and Alex Presley have been outrighted off the 40-man roster after clearing waivers. Each can become a free agent. Detroit also added that utilityman Andrew Romine was claimed off waivers by the Mariners, as Seattle had announced.

    The 33-year-old Sanchez signed a five-year, $80MM contract with the Tigers that spanned the 2013-17 seasons and turned in a sensational campaign in the first year of that deal. In 182 innings that year, Sanchez captured the American League ERA title with a mark of 2.57, averaging 10.0 K/9 against 2.7 BB/9 along the way. He finished fourth in the AL Cy Young voting and was worth roughly six wins above replacement per both fWAR and rWAR. Though he was limited to 126 innings in 2014, Sanchez was again quite good, logging a 3.43 ERA with improved control but diminished strikeouts.

    Since contributing about nine wins’ worth of value in those first two seasons, though, the Sanchez contract has been regrettable for the Tigers. He’s logged a total of 415 2/3 innings in that time and surrendered 262 earned runs (5.67 ERA) on the strength of 462 hits (85 homers) and 131 walks. Sanchez still shows a penchant for missing bats (8.2 K/9 over the final three years of the deal, 8.9 K/9 in 2017), but his ground-ball rate has eroded and he’s become stunningly homer prone.

    Collins, 27, showed promise back in 2015 when he hit .266/.316/.417 in 207 plate appearances as a 25-year-old, but his bat has tailed off since that time. In 2016-17, he’s managed just a .213/.291/.357 line through 320 trips to the plate. He struggled enormously in Triple-A in 2016 as well, though he bounced back with a strong .288/.358/.462 slash there in 296 PAs this season.

    Presley, 32, posted a very solid .314/.354/.416 with three homers and five steals through 264 PAs. A veteran of eight big league seasons, Presley hasn’t settled in as a regular with one organization but has found his way onto a 25-man roster in each of the past eight campaigns. Since 2011, he’s averaged 211 MLB plate appearances per season and batted .263/.306/.390 in the process. He shouldn’t have much trouble finding an opportunity to head to camp and compete for a roster spot in 2018.

    Adduci, also 32, returned from a strong stint in the Korea Baseball Organization this year and made his way to the Tigers’ big league roster, where he batted .241/.323/.398 in 93 PAs. Adduci has just 241 big league PAs, which have resulted in a .209/.283/.302 slash.

    Ferrell will turn 27 in three weeks and just wrapped up his first full season back from Tommy John surgery. He has a career 6.53 ERA in 20 2/3 big league innings but owns strong K/BB numbers in a limited sample of 65 2/3 innings in Triple-A. Ferrell has averaged better than 93 mph on his fastball in the big leagues and otherwise relies primarily on a changeup for his secondary offering.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Tigers Finalize Coaching Staff]]> 2017-11-04T19:00:28Z 2017-11-03T13:22:36Z
  • The Tigers also announced their full staff under new manager Ron Gardenhire yesterday. Former Twins coach Steve Liddle will serve as Gardenhire’s bench coach, returning to the dugout for the first time since 2012 after an 11-year run in Minnesota. Third base coach Dave Clark and hitting coach Lloyd McClendon will return to the staff, and the Tigers are adding minor league hitting coach Phil Clark to the big league staff as an assistant hitting coach as well. Former big league infielder Ramon Santiago, who recently retired from his playing career, will jump right onto the Tigers’ staff as a first base coach. As had already been reported, the Tigers plucked Twins bench coach Joe Vavra to serve as a Quality Control coach and hired former Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson to serve as the bullpen coach. Both were with Gardenhire throughout his tenure as Twins skipper. The club also confirmed its hiring of recently dismissed Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio to occupy that same role in Detroit.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Mariners Claim Andrew Romine From Tigers]]> 2017-11-02T19:12:22Z 2017-11-02T18:39:10Z The Mariners announced that they’ve claimed infielder/outfielder Andrew Romine off waivers from the Tigers. He would’ve had the opportunity to elect free agency had he not been claimed. Seattle’s 40-man roster is now at 35 players after also declining options on Hisashi Iwakuma and Yovani Gallardo.

    Romine, 32 in December, has been one of the Tigers’ most versatile players in recent years. He’s played all over the diamond for Detroit since coming over from the Angels, including a game at the end of the 2017 season in which he played all nine spots on the field. Despite that Swiss-army-knife-esque profile, though, Romine hasn’t drawn strong reviews from defensive metrics for his infield work, though he has been viewed more favorably in a smallish sample of work in the outfield.

    The benefit the Tigers see in his defensive flexibility clearly was outweighed by his lack of offensive production and projected arbitration price point, however. Romine batted just .233/.289/.336 through 348 plate appearances this season and has hit .236/.293/.313 (66 OPS+) overall in parts of four years with the Tigers. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz had projected him to earn $1.9MM via arbitration.

    It remains to be seen if the Mariners will keep Romine on the 40-man roster all winter, but he’s presently a candidate to compete with Taylor Motter for a utility role next spring.