The Tigers announced that they have claimed right-hander Freddy Pacheco off waivers from the Cardinals. To make room for him on their roster, left-hander Tarik Skubal has been placed on the 60-day injured list.
Pacheco, 25 next month, is a relief pitcher who was added to the Cards’ roster in November of 2021 to protect him from being selected in the Rule 5 draft. He earned that spot based on a strong campaign that saw him rise through three levels, going from Class-A Advanced to Double-A and Triple-A. He posted a 3.67 ERA that year in 54 innings, striking out an incredible 44% of batters faced but walking a concerning 13.4%. Last year, he split his time between Double-A and Triple-A, tossing 62 innings with a 3.05 ERA. His strikeout rate fell to 33.6% but he also got his walks down to 11.2%.
Those are fairly strong results but Pacheco’s near-term status is up in the air at the moment. A couple of weeks ago, the team informed reports that Pacheco had some tightness around his elbow, with Jeff Jones of the Belleville News-Democrat among those to relay the update. The club did some imaging but didn’t find anything concerning, deciding to simply shut him down for a few weeks and then try to ramp him back up again.
There had not been any previous indication that Pacheco had been placed on waivers but the Cardinals evidently tried to pass him through recently, though the Tigers have swooped in to grab him. The latter club has seen a lot of bullpen turnover in the past year, as they traded away Michael Fulmer at last year’s deadline and then Gregory Soto and Joe Jiménez this offseason. Pacheco still has a couple of option years, meaning they can shuttle him between the majors and minors as a depth arm, as long as he’s healthy.
They were able to give Pacheco a roster spot due to Skubal’s health status. He had flexor tendon surgery in August and is still working his way back to health. The timeline on his return still isn’t clear but this IL placement means he can’t return until late May at the earliest, since the 60-day clock doesn’t start until Opening Day.
For the Cards, they now have an open roster spot that they could potentially use to add a non-roster invitee to their club. There’s a lot of hype around prospect Jordan Walker making the Opening Day roster, though nothing official has been announced. There’s now just over two weeks to the March 30 season opener.