Detroit Tigers – MLB Trade Rumors 2019-02-19T02:45:05Z WordPress Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Gordon Beckham Hints At Retirement]]> 2019-02-18T06:29:06Z 2019-02-18T06:29:06Z
  • Gordon Beckham chose to sign the Tigers over some offers from other teams because they offered the best shot at regular Major League at-bats, the veteran infielder told Chris McCosky of the Detroit News and other reporters.  The idea of more time in the minors isn’t appealing to Beckham, to the point that “if it doesn’t work out here, I might be done” with his ten-year MLB career, though he also noted that better health and a revamped swing have him feeling optimistic about the coming season.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Nicholas Castellanos Open To Extension With Tigers]]> 2019-02-17T16:15:17Z 2019-02-17T16:10:10Z The agent for Tigers outfielder Nicholas Castellanos said in January his client would prefer a trade, but the slugger met with the media Sunday and told reporters, including Chris McCosky of the Detroit News, he’d be willing to discuss a long-term contract with the club. The rebuilding Tigers made a legitimate effort to move Castellanos in the offseason, yet they were unable to find a taker because general manager Al Avila suggested there was no real market for the 26-year-old. Although Castellanos has been an above-average offensive producer in three straight seasons, especially during a career-best 2018, he has been a liability at third base and in the outfield. Those defensive limitations have likely kept teams from fervently pursuing him via trade. They could also lead to a disappointing market for Castellanos should he become a free agent next winter, particularly if the Tigers retain him through the season and issue him a qualifying offer thereafter. Castellanos expressed some nervousness about the state of free agency Sunday, pointing to the still-unemployed statuses of Bryce Harper and Manny Machado and Braves corner outfielder Nick Markakis’ inability to secure a high-paying multiyear deal as causes for concern, Evan Woodbery of writes.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Gardenhire Hopes Tigers Hold On To Castellanos]]> 2019-02-16T06:48:42Z 2019-02-16T06:27:46Z
  • The Tigers, meanwhile, do not appear to have anything in the works with outfielder Nicholas Castellanos, who seems to be more of a mid-season trade candidate than extension candidate. Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press writes that skipper Ron Gardenhire would prefer Castellanos stick around. He just might get his wish, at least for the first half of the season, as it still seems there’s insufficient market interest in the defensively challenged slugger to pique the Detroit organization’s interest.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Tigers Win Arbitration Hearing Against Michael Fulmer]]> 2019-02-15T17:55:19Z 2019-02-15T16:51:17Z The Tigers have won their arbitration hearing against right-hander Michael Fulmer, reports Mark Feinsand of (via Twitter). He’ll now earn the $2.8MM salary that the team filed rather than the $3.4MM submitted by his camp.

    Fulmer, 26 next month, struggled through the worst season of his young career in 2018, recording a 4.69 ERA with 7.5 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, a career-high 1.29 HR/9 and a career-low 44.1 percent ground-ball rate. The righty was also limited to a career-low 132 1/3 innings as he worked through oblique and knee injuries. While the 2018 campaign was far from his best work, Fulmer was a quality arm in each of his first two MLB campaigns, including a 2016 season in which he was named American League Rookie of the Year.

    The lack of innings in Fulmer’s platform year, a career losing record thanks largely to playing on a rebuilding Tigers team (wins and losses still factor into arbitration proceedings even if they’re no longer valued by Major League front offices), and a relatively pedestrian strikeout rate all likely worked against Fulmer as he made a case for an additional $600K on top of what the Tigers offered.

    Moving forward, Fulmer’s future raises and salaries in arbitration will be based upon that $2.8MM figure, meaning today’s loss has compounding downside for him in the future. He’ll be eligible for arbitration thrice more as a Super Two player before reaching free agency upon the completion of the 2022 campaign (barring a future extension, of course). Given Detroit’s status as a rebuilding club, Fulmer figures to once again see his name circulating on the rumor circuit this summer, though with so much team control remaining, the Tigers certainly hope to be competitive well before Fulmer is close to the open market. As such, there won’t be as much urgency to move him as there will be with a shorter-term asset such as right fielder Nicholas Castellanos.

    Fulmer is the 10th player to go to a hearing this year, and as can be seen in MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker, the players won six of those 10 hearings. Fulmer was the league’s final unresolved case, so this year’s slate of arbitration hearings will lean slightly in favor of the players’ side.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Doug Fister Retires]]> 2019-02-13T22:46:10Z 2019-02-13T22:46:10Z Veteran right-hander Doug Fister has elected to call it a career after spending parts of 10 seasons in the Majors, agent Page Odle tells Jon Morosi of Fister, 35, received multiple Major League contract offers this winter, according to Odle, but is instead making a “100 percent family-driven” decision to spend time with his wife and two children.

    A seventh-round pick of the Mariners back in 2006, Fister ascended to the Majors as a largely unheralded prospect with the Mariners in 2009. After establishing himself as a quality starter over his first 378 frames with the Mariners, Fister was flipped to the Tigers in a 2011 trade deadline deal, where he’d go on to thrive over another three seasons. Fister, in fact, was somewhat quietly one of the game’s better starters from 2011-14, pitching to a 3.11 ERA (129 ERA+) with 6.5 K/9, 1.7 BB/9 and 0.7 HR/9.

    A 2015 forearm strain led to diminished velocity and diminished results for Fister, though he managed to make 32 starts for the 2016 Astros and served as a stabilizing force in their rotation. Hip and knee injuries slowed Fister in his most recent run with the Rangers, with the latter of the two issues ultimately ending his season after 66 innings.

    All in all, Fister will walk away from his baseball career with a lifetime 83-92 record, a 3.72 ERA, 6.1 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in 1422 1/3 big league innings. The towering 6’8″ righty also amassed an impressive postseason resume, tallying 56 2/3 innings of 3.02 ERA ball with a 41-to-17 K/BB ratio in five separate postseasons runs (three with the Tigers, one with the Nats and one with the Red Sox). He made one World Series start, with the Tigers in ’12, where he tossed six innings of one-run ball against the Giants.

    Fister earned more than $36MM in player salaries over the life of a career that both Baseball-Reference and Fangraphs value at 20 wins above replacement. Best wishes to the former Tigers, Mariners, Nationals, Astros, Red Sox and Rangers righty in his life beyond baseball.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Tigers Name Kirk Gibson Special Assistant To GM]]> 2019-01-29T13:53:00Z 2019-01-29T13:46:04Z The Tigers announced yesterday that they have named Kirk Gibson to a post as special assistant to general manager Al Avila. He will continue to cover the team as an analyst as well.

    Gibson, now 61, will re-join the organization that originally drafted him in the first round back in 1978. He went on to turn in 17 seasons in the majors, including a dozen years in Detroit (where he began and ended his MLB career). Thereafter, Gibson served as a big league coach (including with the Tigers) and eventually became the manager of the Diamondbacks.

    Everything changed with a diagnosis of Parkinson’s in 2015, but Gibson has nevertheless remained active, offering a softened version of his famously intense persona. It’s certainly good to see that he’s capable of adding to his plate. In his new role with the Tigers’ org, per the announcement, Gibson “will assist in on-field duties at both the Major League and Minor League levels, be involved in all personnel meetings, travel throughout the Minor League system and participate in community relations.”

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Nicholas Castellanos Could Stick With Tigers Into Summer]]> 2019-01-28T03:43:25Z 2019-01-28T03:43:25Z Given that Tigers slugger and trade chip Nicholas Castellanos has drawn little interest this offseason, they’re unlikely to move him until the deadline approaches in the summer, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press suggests. While the Dodgers have been prominently connected to Castellanos this winter, they’ve never seriously pursued the outfielder, according to Fenech, and now appear completely out on him after signing A.J. Pollock this week. Signs are pointing to Castellanos staying in Detroit into the 2019 campaign, then, and general manager Al Avila will need to be convinced the return for him in an in-season trade outweighs the draft compensation the team would receive by keeping the soon-to-be 27-year-old and issuing him a qualifying offer next winter. With that said, Fenech wonders if the Tigers would even risk offering a pricey QO to Castellanos, who may well accept it because his well-documented defensive troubles figure to tamp down his value on the open market.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Tigers Hoping For Two-Way Impact From Kaleb Cowart ]]> 2019-01-27T05:54:10Z 2019-01-27T05:54:10Z
  • The Tigers claimed infielder Kaleb Cowart from the Mariners on Thursday with the idea of using him as a two-way player, general manager Al Avila confirmed Saturday (via Chris McCosky of the Detroit News). “We felt there was a possibility of a two-way guy here,” Avila said. “We’re going to put him on the mound and see if he can recapture what our guys saw when he was drafted.” Cowart was a first-round pick of the Angels in 2010 as a position player, but he impressed Tigers scouts back then as a high school pitcher. “I always followed his career because of what I saw him do on the mound,” said assistant GM David Chadd, who was the Tigers’ director of scouting during Cowart’s draft year. At the time, Cowart offered a 92 to 95 mph fastball “with heavy life and a slider he threw for strikes,” in addition to a splitter, Chadd recounted. Now, given that Cowart has been a woeful hitter in the majors, has no minor league options remaining and is set to face plenty of competition for an infield spot, the 26-year-old’s best hope to make the Tigers may be to show he can be a viable MLB pitcher, as McCosky points out.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Agent: Nicholas Castellanos Prefers Trade Before Spring Training]]> 2019-01-26T19:58:29Z 2019-01-26T19:58:57Z TODAY: Avila addressed the comments today, telling’s Evan Woodbery (Twitter links) and other media that “That’s something where he felt like he needed to express that publicly. That’s fine.  [The comments] have no effect on the team or his performance or anything like that. He’ll come in in great shape. He’ll come in and compete and he’ll be one of our better hitters in the lineup and I expect him to have a great season.”  The general manager also reiterated that a trade “can’t be forced.”

    THURSDAY: Nicholas Castellanos has seen his name bandied about the rumor circuit enough to know that the Tigers intend to trade him before this season’s non-waiver deadline, and his agent, David Meter, tells Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press that Castellanos would prefer to open Spring Training with a new team if it’s a foregone conclusion that he’ll be moved eventually anyhow. However, Detroit general manager Al Avila said today (link via Will Burchfield of 97.1 FM The Ticket) that the market for Castellanos has been “frustrating” and plainly stated that, “…right now, really, I don’t have anything going on,” with regard to Castellanos talks.

    Castellanos, 27 in March, is entering his final season of club control and has already agreed to a $9.95MM salary for the upcoming season. It’s no secret that the Tigers are well into a large-scale rebuild, and as a pending free agent, Castellanos stands out as an obvious trade piece. The two sides have reportedly discussed long-term arrangements in the past but failed to find a common ground.

    There’s little denying that Castellanos is a high-quality bat that could deepen the lineup for any contending club. Over the past three seasons, he’s batted a combined .285/.336/.495 with 67 home runs, 107 doubles and 19 triples in 1790 trips to the plate. He’s cut back on his strikeout rate over the past two seasons as well and, in 2018, notched a career-best 7.2 percent walk rate that helped him post a career-high .354 on-base percentage. Castellanos isn’t the premier slugger that the Tigers had on their hands in J.D. Martinez, but he’s also younger and less expensive.

    Like Martinez, however, the primary knock on Castellanos is his outfield defense. The converted third baseman shifted to right field full-time last season due to poor defense at his original position, but the results in the outfield weren’t any better. Castellanos graded out extremely poorly (-19 DRS, -12.9 UZR and a league-worst -24 Outs Above Average), which makes him a tough sell to a National League club. While it’s probably fair to expect that his glovework can improve with more reps at a still relatively new position, any team acquiring Castellanos to play in the field regularly would do so knowing that he’d be giving back a portion of the value provided by his excellent bat.

    Fenech reports that the Tigers’ asking price for Castellanos has been one “top-level” prospect, adding that Detroit would need to feel it was receiving better value than a potential pick in the 2020 draft. That indicates that the organization considers Castellanos a potential qualifying offer candidate following the ’19 season.

    Beyond Castellanos’ defensive shortcomings, the Tigers are in a tough spot with regard to trading Castellanos given that several plausible suitors have recently filled holes in other ways. The Dodgers reportedly struck a deal with A.J. Pollock just a few hours ago, and the Braves re-signed Nick Markakis earlier this week. The Rays, meanwhile, signed Avisail Garcia last week, and the division-rival Twins, who could’ve viewed Castellanos as a DH candidate, instead signed Nelson Cruz to a one-year deal with an option.

    The Astros were also said to be in on Cruz and stand out as a speculative on-paper fit for Castellanos, and the Indians are known to be seeking some additional outfield help. Perhaps the Phillies could view Castellanos as something of a fallback option if their higher-profile pursuits don’t pan out, but Rhys Hoskins’ poor defense in left field was a catalyst for this offseason’s trade of Carlos Santana, and Castellanos’ struggles were similar, if not more substantial, to those of Hoskins. The Giants are reportedly in the mix for outfield help but don’t seem likely to pay a premium for a one-year rental (and also surely are wary of the defensive question marks). Similar sentiments could apply to the White Sox.

    Of course, teams interested in Castellanos also figure to be reluctant to pay a premium when there are still so many corner-outfield options available in free agency. Marwin Gonzalez, Adam Jones, Carlos Gonzalez, Denard Span and Derek Dietrich are just some of the many alternatives in free agency, and while Castellanos is a safe bet to outperform most of that bunch (excepting Marwin Gonzalez, perhaps), the cost of acquisition would be only money. In the case of all but Marwin, in fact, each of that bunch should cost less than Castellanos’ $9.95MM total commitment. The trade market also has alternatives in the form of Hunter Renfroe, Eric Thames and others.

    It’s understandable that Castellanos would want to know his fate sooner rather than later, but at the same time, there’s a greater supply of players with his skill set (or close to it) than there is demand. An injury to a contending club’s designated hitter or corner outfielder in Spring Training could create a new suitor, however, so perhaps it wouldn’t be the worst thing for Castellanos if he’s still with the Tigers when camp opens.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Avila On Tigers’ Anticipated Payroll Timeline]]> 2019-01-25T05:11:55Z 2019-01-25T05:11:55Z Tigers GM Al Avila suggested today that his eyes are still fixed well into the future, as Detroit’s covers. That was largely safe to assume anyway, of course, but his discussion of the team’s financial planning is still important to note.

    Avila did not just focus on the club’s expected arrival of new talent at the MLB level. As he put it, instead: “After 2020, our payroll will be in a lot better place for us to be aggressive going into 2021.” That focus on MLB spending is interesting for a few reasons.

    For one thing, the difference between the 2020 and 2021 balance sheets isn’t hard to suss out. Both include $30MM for Miguel Cabrera; only the former comes with $25MM for Jordan Zimmermann and the final $6MM owed to Prince Fielder. Of course, those are the club’s only future commitments, so it still seems a bit curious to suggest that the long-term payroll trajectory is the driving force here.

    Relatedly, it seems the organization has already largely decided that next winter won’t be an opportune time to push some cash onto the table. The Tigers have spent a decent bit of coin on one-year free agent deals since launching their rebuild, but mostly have targeted veteran gap-fillers who might turn into summer trade chips. It has long seemed interesting to wonder whether the club might consider putting its once-lofty payroll to use by chasing down some reasonably spendy players on the open market, even if it means taking a bit of risk. But it appears that will not be the case this winter or next.

    So, when will the Tigers open things up? Avila didn’t make any promises, saying “we will have some money by 2021 to start going out there” but suggesting that hasn’t been pre-determined to be a breaking point. “Whether it be 2021 or 2022, at that point, we will be in a place, from a payroll perspective where I want to be at,” he said. Needless to say, it’s plenty understandable that the club has not yet decided how it’ll act at that point. And it’s also fair to avoid the setting of overly specific expectations. Still, the fuzzy future picture is no doubt less than inspiring for fans who may be looking ahead to two or three more clear rebuilding seasons.

    While the Tigers have managed to draw down their spending over the past two years from its $200MM-ish heights in 2016-17, the club has never had a clear path to a quick rebuild. There was over $125MM on the books to open the 2018 season and there’ll be over $112MM to pay this year, due in no small part to ongoing obligations that are vestiges of the team’s last effort to contend. It has also taken a while to get the farm system producing again, too, as the club doesn’t seem to have come away from its post-contention veteran swaps with many significant assets and has only just begun reaping the rewards of top draft position. There are certainly some bright spots in the organization, especially with an intriguing mix of pitching talent building in the minors, but it seems the Detroit organization has no intentions of rushing the process.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Tigers Claim Kaleb Cowart]]> 2019-01-24T20:12:42Z 2019-01-24T20:06:41Z The Tigers announced this afternoon that they’ve claimed infielder Kaleb Cowart off waivers from the Mariners, which now gives them a full 40-man roster. Cowart was designated for assignment earlier in the week.

    The Mariners had planned to utilize Cowart in a hybrid infield/reliever role, and while the Detroit organization didn’t immediately reveal plans to do so, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press tweets that Cowart will report to Spring Training as a two-way player.

    Cowart, 26, was a first-round pick of the Angels back in 2010 but has not yet developed into a reliable big leaguer (hence the experimentation in using him as an infielder/pitcher). In parts of four big league seasons — all with the Halos — Cowart has appeared in exactly 162 games but managed a paltry .177/.241/.293 slash in 380 plate appearances. The right-handed-hitting Cowart has played all over the diamond but has seen the majority of his action at third base (6341 professional innings) and second base (915 innings). He’s a career .289/.361/.469 hitter in just over 1400 Triple-A plate appearances.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Tigers Watched Adrian Gonzalez's Workout]]> 2019-01-24T05:01:50Z 2019-01-24T05:01:50Z
  • Adrian Gonzalez worked out for the Tigers, Royals and Diamondbacks this past week, tweets J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group. The five-time All-Star, who is hoping to continue his career in 2019, batted .237/.299/.373 with six homers in 187 plate appearances with the Mets last season before being cut loose. Detroit would seem to have the most playing time available for the soon-to-be 37-year-old Gonzalez, though he could certainly serve as a veteran bat off the bench in either Kansas City or Arizona. The two American League teams are, of course, a better on-paper fit given that Gonzalez could spend some time at DH in either spot.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Tigers Sign Gordon Beckham]]> 2019-01-22T22:04:47Z 2019-01-22T20:36:24Z In announcing their non-roster invitees, the Tigers revealed that they have signed veteran infielder Gordon Beckham. Clearly, he’ll be on hand in camp this spring. Fancred’s Jon Heyman tweets that Beckham’s contract comes with a $700K base salary if he makes the big league roster.

    Beckham will be looking to win a job as a bench piece in Detroit. While the club has little reason to utilize veterans in a manner that would block younger talent, it surely also wants to install some respected players and maintain a certain standard during another transition year. If he can’t crack the roster, Beckham would potentially represent worthwhile depth at Triple-A.

    The opportunities have been sporadic of late for Beckham, who was once a regular with the White Sox. Still, he has appeared in every one of the past ten MLB seasons, compiling a cumulative .239/.302/.366 slash in 3542 plate appearances. Beckham, who’s an option at second and third base, did post a strong .302/.400/.458 batting line last year at Triple-A while drawing more walks (57) than strikeouts (52) in his 425 trips to the plate.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Latest On Nicholas Castellanos]]> 2019-01-22T15:37:10Z 2019-01-22T14:14:53Z
  • If there’s a key remaining question for the Tigers this winter, it probably relates to the future of Nicholas CastellanosAnthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press takes stock of the situation. Critically, as he notes, it’s largely unclear just how much interest there is among rival clubs. Castellanos is still just 26 years of age and out-hit most remaining free agents in 2018, but he’s also still considered a defensive liability and is earning a hefty $9.95MM in his final season of arbitration eligibility. Whether a significant offer will materialize remains to be seen; as Fenech suggests, though, it’s hard to fault the Tigers for holding on to a reasonably steep asking price to this point.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Tigers To Sign Hector Sanchez]]> 2019-01-22T01:20:58Z 2019-01-22T01:20:58Z The Tigers have agreed to a minor-league deal with backstop Hector Sanchez, according to Venezuelan journalist Ignacio Serrano (Twitter link). The contract comes with an invitation to MLB Spring Training.

    Now 29 years of age, Sanchez had appeared in seven consecutive major-league campaigns before failing to earn a nod last year. Though he showed early promise, he owns only a .238/.273/.367 batting line at the game’s highest level. It’s fair to note that he’s a .267/.330/.438 hitter through eight hundred career plate appearances at Triple-A.

    Sanchez had returned last year to the Giants, his original professional organization and the place he broke into the majors. Things didn’t work out, however, and he was given his release just two months into the season. Now, Sanchez will try to get back on track with a Detroit organization that has a somewhat unsettled catching situation after dropping James McCann earlier in the winter. John Hicks is the most established player on the roster, while newcomer Grayson Greiner is seen as a possible long-term piece. Sanchez joins veteran Bobby Wilson as non-roster competition and veteran depth.