- Tigers infielder Dixon Machado has cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Toledo, per an announcement from Detroit. Machado had the right to elect free agency instead, but he’ll remain with the Tigers, who designated him on July 4. Although the 26-year-old opened the season as the Tigers’ starting second baseman, he lost his grip on both that job and his roster spot after hitting just .206/.263/.290 in 233 plate appearances.
- The strained right shoulder that sent Tigers closer Shane Greene to the DL this past Monday isn’t a serious injury, per Jason Beck of MLB.com. Greene has inflammation and bursitis – no structural damage – and could return next weekend, Beck relays. The news regarding teammate Leonys Martin, who went on the DL when Greene did, isn’t as promising. The center fielder’s strained left hamstring will keep him out through the break. But should Martin return before the July 31 non-waiver deadline, he figures to draw trade interest. The same goes for Greene.
The Tigers announced a series of roster moves, including the news that infielder Dixon Machado has been designated for assignment. The 40-man roster spot will be filled by right-hander Victor Alcantara, whose contract will be selected from Triple-A before tomorrow’s game. Right-hander Warwick Saupold has also been optioned to Triple-A, with infielder Ronny Rodriguez headed up to the big league club.
Machado began the season as Detroit’s everyday second baseman, as the rebuilding team sought to give the 26-year-old a long look at the position with Ian Kinsler dealt to the Angels. He produced passable defensive grades but the bigger issue was Machado’s lack of hitting, as he managed only a .206/.263/.290 slash line and one home run over 233 plate appearances. The bat has never really been Machado’s calling card (he had just a .640 career OPS over 3329 PA in the minors), though the Tigers couldn’t ignore such a dire performance for much longer, especially with Niko Goodrum increasingly taking over regular duty at second base.
If the out-of-options Machado isn’t claimed or traded during his DFA period, he could still leave the organization as a free agent, as MLive.com’s Evan Woodbury tweets. Machado was outrighted off the roster back in 2013, so he would have the option of choosing free agency rather than accept an outright assignment to Triple-A.
Alcantara will join the Tigers’ Major League roster for the first time this season. The 25-year-old righty made his big league debut in 2017, posting an 8.59 ERA over 7 1/3 relief innings out of Detroit’s bullpen. He was outrighted off the 40-man in the offseason, though regained some stature within the organization with a 2.68 ERA, 8.4 K/9, and a 7.33 K/BB rate over 47 innings at Triple-A Toledo this season.
The Dodgers have been oft-linked to Manny Machado in recent weeks, but Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets that the team is also “aggressively” pursuing Tigers right-hander Michael Fulmer. Just how receptive the Tigers are to trade offers for their top starter remains unclear.
Certainly, Detroit will have to at least entertain offers on virtually any player on the roster, as the organization’s rebuild is still in its early stages. But the Tigers are in a more difficult spot with Fulmer, whose 2017 season ended due to ulnar nerve transposition surgery in his right arm. Thus far in 2018, Fulmer hasn’t been nearly as good as he was in his 2016 Rookie of the Year season or for the vast majority of the 2017 season before a series of awful starts leading up to that surgical procedure.
Through 94 1/3 innings in 2018, Fulmer is sitting on a 4.20 ERA with 7.6 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, 1.05 HR/9 and a 46.3 percent ground-ball rate. More troubling than his bottom-line numbers, though, is the quality of contact he’s allowed. Both Fangraphs and Statcast indicate that Fulmer’s hard-contact rate has soared by 10 percent this season. The average exit velocity of a ball put in play against Fulmer has leaped from 85.6 mph in 2017 to 88.8 mph in 2018.
There are certainly positives surrounding Fulmer’s season as well, of course. His average fastball velocity of 95.8 mph is right in line with his pre-surgery levels. His strikeout percentage (20.4), swinging-strike rate (10.3 percent) and chase rate (34.2 percent) are all either at or above his career-high levels. Fulmer looks to be in good health, and if he can sharpen his pitch location a bit, there’s reason to believe he can take some significant strides forward.
For the Tigers, though, that all boils down to the fact that Fulmer’s value simply isn’t at its peak at the moment. And given that he’s under club control for another four and a half seasons, there’s no need to rush into a trade unless the Dodgers (or any other club) bowl them over with a package from which they can’t walk away. Conversely, it’s tougher for an interested party to make that type of offer when there’s some uncertainty surrounding the pitcher’s current performance level.
The Tigers announced following today’s game that first baseman/outfielder Jim Adduci will have his contract selected from Triple-A Toledo. Young catcher Grayson Greiner is being optioned to Toledo in his place, and the Tigers are shifting Miguel Cabrera from the 10-day DL to the 60-day DL in order to open up a roster spot. Cabrera underwent season-ending surgery on a ruptured biceps tendon earlier this summer.
Adduci, 33, will return for a second stint with the Tigers after hitting .241/.323/.398 with a homer, six doubles and two triples for them through 93 plate appearances last season. That marked the first MLB action for Adduci since 2014 with the Rangers, as he spent the 2015-16 seasons enjoying a productive run with the Lotte Giants of the Korea Baseball Organization.
This season, Adduci turned in one of the most productive Triple-A campaigns of his six-year career at that level. Through 296 plate appearances, he’s hitting .309/.358/.474 with seven homers, 22 doubles, a triple and eight steals (in nine tries). He’ll give the Tigers a left-handed option both in the outfield and at first base, which could give John Hicks some additional opportunities to get back behind the dish — especially with Greiner being optioned to Toledo.
With the 2018-19 international signing period kicking off today, there will be dozens of six- and seven-figure bonuses handed out to teenage prospects, primarily out of Latin America, filtering in throughout the day today. Many of these have been in the works for quite some time, as is reflected by the fact that most of the top players’ destinations and signing bonuses have been previously reported/projected (and by the fact that the top agreements will all be reported in one swift avalanche today).
We’ll keep track of the notable National League signings here and the notable American League signings in a separate post. Note that you can read up on each of these players with the dedicated international coverage available from Ben Badler of Baseball America (subscription required), Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com and Kiley McDaniel & Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs, each of whom has scouting info on the top echelon of international amateurs. Badler is also tracking the all of the signings from all 30 teams.
Onto some of the more notable signings…
9:42am: The Tigers placed a pair of notable trade chips on the 10-day disabled list, per a club announcement. Closer Shane Greene is going on the shelf due to a strained right shoulder, while center fielder Leonys Martin is dealing with a strained left hamstring. In a pair of corresponding moves, Detroit has reinstated lefty Daniel Stumpf from the 10-day DL and recalled outfielder Mikie Mahtook from Triple-A Toledo.
It’s not immediately clear how long the 29-year-old Greene will be expected to miss. There’d been no previous word of a shoulder issue for Greene, making this morning’s announcement something of a surprise. If he proves to be out for anything longer than a month, that’d mostly eliminate the chances of Greene being moved this summer, as he’s unlikely to clear trade waivers next month given his affordable salary and remaining two years of club control.
Greene is in his first full season as the Tigers’ closer and has handled himself well for the most part, though he’d given up a total of three runs over his past three appearances (perhaps being negatively impacted by his shoulder along the way). Overall, he’s posted a 4.03 ERA with 10.0 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, 1.66 HR/9 and a 43.4 percent ground-ball rate. While he’s clearly been too homer-prone so far in 2018, Greene’s 19.1 K-BB% is the best of his career, and his fastball velocity has held steady just a hair shy of 95 mph.
However, as MLB.com’s Jason Beck tweets, manager Ron Gardenhire told the media today that Greene revealed yesterday that his shoulder has been bothering him for “awhile.” Gardenhire notes that Greene’s velocity dropped substantially Sunday — as does appear to be the case — prompting the DL placement. He’ll visit a doctor for further evaluation in the coming days.
As for Martin, word that he was DL-bound broke yesterday after he exited Sunday’s game early. As Beck writes, Martin has been playing through hamstring discomfort since a DL stint back in May. After exiting yesterday’s game in too much pain to continue playing, Martin essentially “asked us to put him on the DL,” manager Ron Gardenhire told Beck and other reporters. Martin says his hope is to return to the club in 10 days, though given the proximity of the All-Star break, perhaps the Tigers will hold him out a bit longer in order to afford him with a few days of extra rest.
- Tigers center fielder Leonys Martin is headed to the 10-day disabled list, Jason Beck of MLB.com tweets. Martin departed Detroit’s game on Sunday with a left hamstring cramp – a similar injury to the one that sent him to the DL in early May. Hamstring troubles aside, Martin has been a solid contributor for the Tigers this year, having hit .257/.327/.431 with nine home runs and 2.2 fWAR over 303 plate appearances. The 30-year-old looks like a logical trade candidate as a result, as MLBTR’s Jeff Todd wrote this week, but that’s up in the air given Martin’s health issues.
- Although 39-year-old Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez is struggling, the fact that this may be his last season means manager Ron Gardenhire will continue to give him opportunities (via Evan Woodbery of MLive.com). “We all know what’s going on with him. It’s the last year of his contract,” Gardenhire said. “Right now he feels really good, he’s feeling great, so we’re letting him play. We’ll get him more breaks as we go along. But like I said, if this is his swan song, or whatever you want to call it, I’m going to make sure he gets as many opportunities as he needs here as we go along. Hopefully he’ll keep having quality at-bats.” While Martinez has been an offensive standout for most of his career, he’s now in the throes of his third subpar season in the past four years, having batted a meager .238/.293/.321 with the majors’ fifth-worst ISO (.083) in 290 trips to the plate. He’s in the final season of a four-year, $68MM deal.
- Tigers right-hander Michael Fulmer is drawing a lot of interest from not just contenders like the Phillies, Dodgers and Yankees, but also from rebuilding teams like the Padres. Clearly Fulmer would be a fit for a lot of teams considering both his ability and his years of control; he isn’t arbitration-eligible until this winter, and he has four years of arbitration coming as a Super Two player. Fancred Sports’ Jon Heyman wrote earlier this week that it could be unlikely that Fulmer is actually dealt, as Detroit has naturally put a big price tag on the righty in trade talks. San Diego is deep in prospects, however, so the Friars could be one of the few teams who wouldn’t immediately balk at the Tigers’ demands.
FRIDAY: Sources that spoke with Ken Rosenthal and Katie Strang of The Athletic painted quite a different picture than did Bosio. Whereas Bosio asserted that he was making a comment to others that was overheard and taken out of context by a team employee, this new report indicates that a racial epithet was directed from Bosio to the employee. Multiple sources specifically disputed Bosio’s account of what occurred, per The Athletic.
THURSDAY: Bosio has given his version of events to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, asserting that the situation arose from a misunderstanding and claiming he was unfairly dismissed. Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press provides additional information regarding a key aspect of Bosio’s account (see here and here).
Avila again declined to go into specifics, but generally disputed that the team was wrong to react as it did. “We know what we did, and why we did it,” he said, “and we’ll see where it goes from there. The action we took was appropriate. There were things involved. But I can’t comment any further.”
WEDNESDAY, 3:02pm: Rick Anderson will move from bullpen coach to pitching coach for the remainder of the season, Avila says (via Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press, on Twitter).
2:49pm: The Tigers announced today that they have fired pitching coach Chris Bosio. Per a club announcement, the decision was due to “insensitive comments.” The full statement reads as follows:
“Effective immediately, the Detroit Tigers have terminated the contract of pitching coach Chris Bosio for his insensitive comments that violated Club policy and his Uniform Employee Contract. The organization holds all of our personnel to the highest standards of personal conduct both on and off the field. We have zero tolerance for this type of behavior. The Club will have no further comment on this matter.”
It is not entirely apparent at this time precisely what led to the termination, but general manager Al Avila tells reporters that the comments in question were made by Bosio to a team employee (Twitter link via MLB.com’s Jason Beck).
Bosio was in his first year with the organization after spending five seasons in the same role with the Cubs. The 55-year-old pitched in the majors for eleven years, from 1986 through 1996.