Detroit Tigers – MLB Trade Rumors 2018-06-23T21:02:49Z WordPress Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Tigers Sign Josh Thole To Minor-League Deal]]> 2018-06-23T16:23:34Z 2018-06-23T16:15:57Z The Tigers have signed catcher Josh Thole to a minor-league deal and assigned him to Double-A Erie, per the SeaWolves’ Twitter account.

Thole, 31, is perhaps best known as the personal catcher for Cy Young-winnings knuckleballer R.A. Dickey during some of his best seasons. The relationship between the two was strong enough to facilitate the addition of Thole into the December 2012 trade that sent Dickey from the Mets to the Blue Jays; the backstop ended up appearing in 102 games for Toronto in the two years following that swap.

The veteran Thole has certainly never been known for his bat. He last appeared in the majors during the 2016 season, when he hit just .169/.254/.220 across 136 plate appearances. For his MLB career, Thole sports a wRC+ of just 73, in part due to a slugging percentage that barely tops .300.

To be fair, though, Thole’s never been valued for his bat. Despite these laughable offensive numbers, Fangraphs’ WAR formula rates Thole as an above-replacement-level player for his lifetime due to solid defensive numbers. Thole’s also shown an aptitude for catching knuckleballs during his career, which is no simple feat.

Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Brayan Pena Retires]]> 2018-06-19T13:29:07Z 2018-06-19T13:29:07Z Veteran backstop Brayan Pena is hanging up his spikes after a dozen seasons in the majors, with Pena tweeting confirmation. George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press recently reported on Twitter that Pena will manage a Gulf Coast League team for the Tigers.

Pena, 36, carved out a lengthy MLB career despite never producing much at the plate at the game’s highest level. Over 1950 total plate appearances, he produced a collective .259/.299/.351 slash line with 23 home runs.

It probably helped that Pena hits from both sides of the plate, something of a rare commodity for a backstop. He was particularly useful as a lefty bat, meaning he made for a solid platoon option for most regular catchers. And teams obviously believed in him behind the dish.

Pena broke into the majors back in 2005, kicking off a four-year run with the Braves during which he never once took fifty plate appearances in a given season. He was a more regular presence during a four-year run with the Royals, who picked him up via waiver claim, but saw his offensive productivity decline in each year in Kansas City.

After a nice bounceback season with the Tigers, Pena secured a two-year deal with the Reds heading into the 2014 season. He ended up receiving semi-regular playing time there due to injuries to other players, appearing in 223 games and producing a .263/.313/.339 slash. That showing led the Cardinals to give Pena a two-year, $5MM deal in the 2015-16 offseason, but he appeared in only nine games in 2016 due to a knee injury and was released after the season.

Pena had joined the Tigers organization in hopes of receiving a chance to continue playing, but primarily in order to work with the team’s young players, as Evan Woodberry of reported this spring. With no real prospects of playing his way back to the majors in Detroit or elsewhere, it seems, the long-time receiver will turn his attention fully to the next phase of his baseball life. MLBTR wishes Pena the best of luck with his new career path.

Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Tigers Would Consider Trading Castellanos, Fulmer]]> 2018-06-18T02:11:31Z 2018-06-18T02:11:13Z While the Tigers’ 36-37 record looks underwhelming, they’ve no doubt exceeded expectations so far after finishing last in the majors in 2017. But even though the team sits just 2 1/2 games behind the first-place Indians in the AL Central, general manager Al Avila isn’t adjusting his immediate or long-term plans, he explained to Jason Beck of and other reporters Sunday. Perhaps of greater intrigue, Avila’s not ready to say whether he aims to keep either right fielder Nicholas Castellanos or right-hander Michael Fulmer for the long haul. While Avila noted that “I don’t have a mandate to trade anyone,” he added that “our intent here is to be open-minded, and if somebody offers us something that quite frankly makes us better as we move forward, then we have to really seriously consider that.”

The Tigers failed in their attempts to extend Castellanos last winter, and the 26-year-old has since hit at a career-best pace with a .310/.353/.502 line in 306 plate appearances. He’s in his second-last year of arbitration control, while Fulmer is in his final pre-arb season and isn’t scheduled to become a free agent until after the 2022 campaign. The 25-year-old is now in the midst of his third straight effective season, although it hasn’t been impressive as the previous two, as he has recorded a 4.13 ERA/4.08 FIP through 80 2/3 innings.

Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Tigers Considering Six-Man Rotation]]> 2018-06-17T18:57:22Z 2018-06-17T18:57:22Z
  • The Tigers are considering deploying a six-man rotation, as manager Ron Gardenhire hinted to’s Evan Woodbery and other reporters.  With Blaine Hardy pitching well, Detroit wants to find a way to keep him in the rotation when Francisco Liriano makes his expected return from the DL this week, plus the other starters could benefit from the lesser workload.  “We’ve got some guys in there that could probably use extra days, take innings off our load.  We started thinking we could probably do this.  Not saying we’re going to, but we could,” Gardenhire said.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Tigers Notes: Castellanos, Miggy]]> 2018-06-15T13:38:10Z 2018-06-15T13:36:53Z
  • The Tigers have no plans to move Nicholas Castellanos in the wake of Miguel Cabrera’s season-ending injury, manager Ron Gardenhire told reporters this week (Twitter link via Jason Beck of Castellanos ranks among the game’s worst defenders in the outfield according to each of Defensive Runs Saved (-11), Ultimate Zone Rating (-2) and Statcast’s Outs Above Average (-10). However, the Tigers organization remains committed to improving Castellanos’ work in right, it seems. “Castellanos is our right fielder,” Gardenhire said. “We’re trying to make him a right fielder and he’s still working at it, and he’s working really hard.”
  • Looking further at Cabrera’s injury, Evan Woodbery of reports that the future Hall of Famer is expected to be able to return to baseball activities in about six months, which should leave him with ample time to prepare for Spring Training. He’ll begin his rehab work in Detroit, rather than at the team’s spring complex in Florida, which will allow him to be closer to his teammates. Cabrera is taking the injury as well as can be expected, Tigers trainer Doug Teter tells Woodbery. In a second column, however, Woodbery writes that the organization and its fans may need to concede that their former iron man, who averaged 155 games per season and made 11 All-Star teams from 2004-16, is beginning to break down and enter a decline over the final few years of his career. There’s no escaping his albatross contract, though Woodbery rightly notes that it’s also not likely to serve as a major hindrance to the club anytime soon. The Tigers are well south of the luxury tax, and given their rebuilding status, they’re not likely to spend aggressively in the next couple of winters anyhow.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Miguel Cabrera To Undergo Season-Ending Surgery On Ruptured Biceps Tendon]]> 2018-06-13T04:23:53Z 2018-06-13T03:06:56Z The Tigers received brutal news on Tuesday, as first baseman Miguel Cabrera was diagnosed with a ruptured tendon in his left biceps that will require season-ending surgery to repair, manager Ron Gardenhire told reporters after tonight’s game (Twitter link via’s Evan Woodbery). He’d previously left tonight’s game against the Twins to undergo an MRI after injuring his arm on a swing (video link) and had since been seen leaving the clubhouse with his arm in a brace.

    Cabrera, 35, had gotten off to a nice rebound start to his 2018 season after a career-worst season in 2017. While his power had yet to return, he was batting .301/.394/.451 with three homers and 11 doubles through 155 trips to the plate. Cabrera had already missed nearly a month of the season due to a hamstring strain but had gotten on base at a .362 clip in 11 games since returning. Now, it seems that the rebuilding Tigers will be without one of the best hitters of the generation until the 2019 season.

    While Detroit has gotten off to a better start than most anticipated, at 31-37, the organization likely didn’t have any delusions of contending for a postseason spot. But the team certainly will miss the presence of Cabrera in the lineup, and his injury will come as an unequivocal blow to the team’s spirits over the season’s final four months.

    The greater question for the Tigers, and one that can’t be answered in the short-term, is what type of effect the mounting pile of injuries that Cabrera has endured in recent seasons will have on him in 2019 and beyond. Cabrera played through a pair of herniated disks in his back last season and, unsurprisingly, struggled immensely (by his own standards, anyway; his overall output was actually that of a roughly league-average hitter).

    Between the herniated disks, last month’s hamstring strain and a minor groin strain earlier in the 2017 season, the long-durable Cabrera — he averaged 155 games per year from 2004-16 — has begun to show increasing signs of wear and tear. For a player who’ll turn 36 next April and is still owed an otherworldly $162MM from 2019-23 — his age-36 through age-40 seasons — that sudden decrease in durability and productivity is alarming. It’s not clear if the Tigers have insurance on Cabrera’s contract, though typically a team will take out a policy on a contract of this magnitude, in which case the Tigers could stand to be reimbursed for at least a portion of Cabrera’s $30MM salary in 2018.

    [Related: Detroit Tigers depth chart]

    In the short-term, the Tigers will likely turn to John Hicks and Niko Goodrum to log most of the at-bats at first base in Cabrera’s absence. Each saw significant action there in Cabrera’s earlier absence, with Hicks picking up 248 innings and Goodrum logging 92 innings at the position.

    The Tigers don’t have a first base prospect who’s knocking on the door in Triple-A or Double-A, though 24-year-old minor league signee Edwin Espinal is getting on base at a .374 clip in Triple-A and has displayed strong K/BB tendencies despite a lack of power (.104 ISO). Speculatively speaking, perhaps the club could give Nicholas Castellanos a look at the position, as he’s once again turning in dismal defensive ratings for his work in right field. Alternatively, if the Tigers front office is keen on adding a low-cost veteran to the mix, both Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez were cut loose by the Red Sox and Mets recently and have yet to sign with a new organization.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Miguel Cabrera Undergoing MRI To Evaluate Biceps Injury]]> 2018-06-13T00:39:51Z 2018-06-13T00:39:51Z
  • The Tigers announced that Miguel Cabrera left tonight’s game against the Twins with a biceps tendon strain. He’s undergoing an MRI to evaluate the extent of the damage, per the announcement. The 35-year-old Cabrera has had a bounceback season at the plate in terms of his average and on-base percentage, but he’s hit just three homers in 155 plate appearances and hasn’t shown much power. Cabrera is hitting .301/.394/.451 on the season overall and has already missed nearly a month of the season due to a strained hamstring.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Zimmermann Feels Ready To Return]]> 2018-06-12T20:53:25Z 2018-06-12T20:53:25Z
  • Tigers starter Jordan Zimmermann says he’s ready to return to the majors after his latest minor-league start, as Peter Wallner of reports. Zimmermann has been out for just over a month with a shoulder impingement, but he says he “feel[s] strong” and has now worked up to 89 pitches in his third rehab outing. As we noted upon his DL placement, Zimmermann has continued to post mediocre results but had at least boasted much/improved strikeout and walk numbers (9.2 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9). The Tigers are still milling around in an uninspiring AL Central race, though the odds of true contention this year remain long. Zimmermann’s hefty salary commitment and full no-trade protection — it converts to partial protection after the season — make him a difficult trade candidate, though a swap at some point can’t be ruled out entirely.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[2017-18 Rule 5 Draft Update]]> 2018-06-11T16:14:27Z 2018-06-11T16:14:00Z When we last checked in on this year’s crop of Rule 5 players, there were a combined 11 players — six on active rosters and five on the Major League disabled list — still with their new organizations. That number has fallen to nine, with six players (albeit a different mix) still active in the Majors, plus another three hanging around on the DL. The number could shrink again in the near future, as several of the remaining Rule 5-ers are seldom used pieces, and at least two teams will soon likely have to make a call.

    Active Big Leaguers

    • Victor Reyes, OF, Tigers (from D-backs): Reyes has received only 38 plate appearances since our last Rule 5 roundup, hitting .211/.211/.342 in that span. He’s picked up a pair of triples and a double, his first extra-base hits in the Majors, but is hitting just .196/.196/.304 on the season as a whole. The Tigers barely use Reyes, outside of pinch-running and late-game defensive switches, but the longer they commit to hanging onto him, the less likely it becomes that they return him to Arizona. At this point, they’ve played more than a third of the season with an effective 24-man roster, so they seem likely to see this through.
    • Brad Keller, RHP, Royals (from D-backs, via trade w/ Reds): The 22-year-old Keller hasn’t picked up many strikeouts (5.9 K/9) and hasn’t displayed elite control (3.3 BB/9), but he’s sporting a 57.9 percent ground-ball rate in 35 innings for Kansas City — including three starts. He boasts a 2.31 ERA thus far in 2018, though his 0.26 HR/9 mark and 82.2 percent strand rate seem poised to regress. Nonetheless, he’s performed well enough to date that there’s no reason for the Royals to consider cutting ties.
    • Burch Smith, RHP, Royals (from Rays, via trade w/ Mets): Smith, on the other hand, is a more complicated case for GM Dayton Moore and his staff. The 28-year-old is currently lugging a 6.49 ERA to the mound with him after surrendering 10 runs in his past 7 1/3 innings. Smith has racked up 28 strikeouts in 26 1/3 innings, but he’s also issued 18 walks and hit two batters. Beyond that, seven of the 26 hits he’s allowed with Kansas City have cleared the fence.
    • Pedro Araujo, RHP, Orioles (from Cubs): Araujo was one of four players in Spring Training with the Orioles who came with Rule 5 status, but he’s the last to remain on their MLB roster. (Anthony Santander, who missed much of last season due to injury, fulfilled his Rule 5 requirements last monthM and was optioned to Triple-A.) Araujo was torched for four runs last night, including a pair of homers, and he now has a 7.71 ERA in 28 innings with the O’s. That’s not exactly a surprise considering the fact that he skipped both Double-A and Triple-A, and to his credit, Araujo has punched out 29 hitters in his 28 frames (albeit against 18 walks and two hit batters). Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun wrote this morning that Araujo’s roster spot could be in jeopardy with Zach Britton coming off the disabled list.
    • Carlos Tocci, OF, Rangers (from Phillies, via trade w/ White Sox): Texas stashed Tocci, 22, on the disabled list with a hip contusion for more than a month and rode his rehabilitation window as long as possible. Since being activated on June 2, Tocci hasn’t logged a single plate appearance. The Rangers’ season looks to be lost, so they may as well hang onto Tocci if they believe he has any shot at a future in the organization. He’s just 2-for-25 in 14 games this season and has struggled in Triple-A, but Tocci was productive for the Phillies’ Double-A club last season and hit well in Double-A during last month’s rehab assignment, too.
    • Elieser Hernandez, RHP, Marlins (from Astros): Hernandez has allowed just 10 earned runs through 23 innings for a 3.91 ERA, but he’s also picked up just 10 strikeouts and yielded five homers. Hernandez, 23, has shown strong control (four walks), but he looks quite hittable through his brief run with Miami so far. As with each team listed in this section, though, they can certainly afford to hang onto him.

    On the Disabled List

    • Julian Fernandez, RHP, Giants (from Rockies): Fernandez underwent Tommy John surgery back in April. He’ll accrue MLB service time while spending the season on the 60-day disabled list and will retain his Rule 5 status heading into 2019, if the Giants wish to hang onto him all offseason.
    • Nick Burdi, RHP, Pirates (from Twins via trade w/ Phillies): The Pirates picked up Burdi knowing he’d miss much of the 2018 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, and he’s yet to throw in the minors. That said, Burdi is a former supplemental-round pick who was selected toward the top of the draft thanks to an 80-grade heater that regularly touches triple digits. If he can get healthy enough to pitch this season, the Bucs will have a free look at a tantalizing power arm.
    • Brett Graves, RHP, Marlins (from Athletics): The Marlins placed Graves on the 60-day disabled list with an oblique strain back on Opening Day, so he’s yet to pitch in the Majors. He has, however, recovered to the point where he’s begun pitching on a minor league rehab assignment. The results haven’t been pretty. Graves has a 6.23 ERA with a 16-to-7 K/BB ratio and four hit batters in 17 1/3 innings between Class-A Advanced and Double-A. He’s also nearing the end of his 30-day rehab window. His first rehab appearance came back on May 17, so the Marlins have less than a week to determine whether to bring Graves up to the Majors or run him through waivers and offer him back to Oakland.

    Returned to Original Organization

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Tigers Sign Jacob Turner, Hunter Cervenka]]> 2018-06-07T23:28:49Z 2018-06-07T23:28:34Z 6:28pm: The Tigers have now formally announced the signings.

    6:22pm: The Tigers have signed right-hander Jacob Turner to a minor league deal, as first noted on Roster Roundup (Twitter link). Evan Woodberry of writes that he’s likely headed for Triple-A Toledo and adds that the Tigers have also picked up left-handed reliever Hunter Cervenka on a minor league pact.

    Now 27 years of age, Turner was once the ninth overall pick in the draft by the Tigers (2009) but has yet to cement himself in the big leagues. He went from Detroit to Miami in the trade that sent Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante to the Tigers, but he’s never made more than 20 starts or topped 118 innings in any big league season.

    Since being cut loose by the Marlins in 2014, Turner spent time with the Cubs, White Sox and Nationals before returning to the Miami organization to open the 2018 season. He was released after tossing just 5 2/3 innings in the Majors and 21 2/3 frames in Triple-A, though. Now, after a second stint with Miami, he’s back for a second stint in the Tigers organization, where he’ll serve as rotation depth in the upper minors. Turner owns an unsightly 5.26 ERA with 5.8 K/9 against 3.5 BB/9 in 368 big league innings, but he has a more palatable 4.27 ERA and slightly better K/BB numbers in a near-identical sample of 358 Triple-A innings.

    As for Cervenka, the former Marlins and Braves lefty has a 4.69 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 48 MLB innings, but he’s also issued 36 walks and hit three batters in that time. That’s been the norm for the 28-year-old throughout the upper minors as well, where he’s averaged nearly 11 punchouts per nine innings pitched but also averaged more than six walks in that time. Cervenka had been with the Sugar Land Skeeters of the independent Atlantic League prior to his signing, and to his credit, he dominated the indy scene. In 17 2/3 innings, Cervenka allowed three runs on nine hits with a 21-to-2 K/BB ratio.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Tigers Select Casey Mize With First Overall Draft Pick]]> 2018-06-05T00:17:40Z 2018-06-04T23:11:32Z The Tigers have selected right-hander Casey Mize with the first overall pick of the 2018 Rule 4 amateur draft. The 21-year-old hurler just wrapped up his junior year at Auburn University.

    Mize was not even drafted out of high school, so it has been a meteoric rise over his three years in college. Then again, he hasn’t exactly needed to streak up the draft boards over the months leading up to the draft. Instead, Mize planted himself at the top early on and has remained a clear consensus 1-1 option ever since.

    Now a polished starter who’s said to possess three swing-and-miss offerings, Mize just turned in a massive season for Auburn. In 16 outings, he threw 109 2/3 innings of 2.95 ERA ball, racking up a whopping 151 strikeouts while issuing only a dozen walks.

    The expectation is that Mize will move quickly through the Detroit farm. He’s certainly an interesting addition to a system that features several promising starters among its best-graded prospects. If all goes as hoped, perhaps the rebuilding organization won’t have to wait long for the arrival of a wave of pitching talent at the MLB level.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Tigers Re-Sign Gerson Moreno, Outright Pete Kozma]]> 2018-06-04T17:42:08Z 2018-06-04T17:42:08Z The Tigers announced today that they’ve re-signed right-hander Gerson Moreno to a minor league contract and sent Pete Kozma outright to Triple-A after he cleared waivers.

    Detroit released the 22-year-old Moreno last week to open a spot on the 40-man roster, and it was later revealed by GM Al Avila that the promising young pitching prospect required Tommy John surgery. By releasing him, Detroit was able to create a needed 40-man vacancy but keep him in the organization. Both and Fangraphs ranked him among the organization’s top 30 prospects entering the season, with Eric Longenhagen calling him a potential setup man whose fastball can touch 99 mph. Moreno has averaged better than 11 strikeouts per nine innings over the past two seasons, but he struggled to a 5.29 ERA and averaged 7.4 walks per nine innings in 2018 before undergoing season-ending surgery.

    Kozma, meanwhile, was designated for assignment last week when the Tigers activated Miguel Cabrera from the disabled list. He’d been serving in a utility role for Detroit, but the Tigers have since called up 26-year-old Ronny Rodriguez, who’d been hitting quite well in Triple-A Toledo and can fill that same utility role on their roster. The 30-year-old Kozma hit .175/.195/.300 in 41 plate appearances for the Tigers this season before being cut from the 40-man roster. He has the ability to reject the outright assignment in favor of free agency, though Detroit’s announcement gave no indication that the former Cardinals shortstop has any plans to do so.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Tigers Sign Junichi Tazawa To Minor League Deal]]> 2018-06-04T15:41:21Z 2018-06-04T15:41:21Z The Tigers have agreed to a minor league contract with veteran reliever Junichi Tazawa, per a club announcement. (The move was first noted on Twitter by Roster Roundup.) The righty was released by the Marlins after being designated for assignment last month.

    Tazawa, who’ll turn 32 later this week, signed what proved to be an ill-fated two-year, $12MM deal with Miami in the 2016-17 offseason. The former Red Sox setup man struggled enough with the Fish that he couldn’t hold his roster spot through the life of that deal, however. After posting a 5.69 ERA in 55 1/3 innings last season, he opened the 2018 campaign by allowing 20 earned runs in 20 inning of work.

    After averaging better than a strikeout per inning with the Red Sox from 2009-16, Tazawa’s strikeout numbers fell off sharply in 2017. He posted a 6.2 K/9 mark and 16 percent overall strikeout rate — each the lowest full-season levels of his MLB career. His strikeouts returned in 2018 — 24 in 20 innings — but he also issued 13 walks and served up six homers with the Marlins. Beyond that, his average fastball velocity sat at a career-low 91.5 mph, and his swinging-strike rate (7.8 percent) and chase rate (28.4 percent) were also career-worsts.

    Despite Tazawa’s considerable struggles over the past two seasons, adding him to their Triple-A ranks is a no-risk proposition for the Tigers. The balance of his $7MM salary for the 2018 season will be paid out by the Marlins, so Detroit will only be on the hook for the pro-rated league minimum for any time he spends at the big league level. (That sum would subsequently be subtracted from what the Marlins owe Tazawa.) If he’s able to rebound to any extent, he’ll step up to the big league level to help out a Tigers bullpen that currently ranks 25th in the Majors with a 4.66 ERA.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Tigers To Select Drew VerHagen’s Contract]]> 2018-06-03T20:48:58Z 2018-06-03T20:48:54Z The Tigers will select right-hander Drew VerHagen’s contract prior to their doubleheader against the Yankees on Monday, Evan Woodbery of tweets. VerHagen will start the first of those games, while the team will option reliever Johnny Barbato in a corresponding move.

    The 27-year-old VerHagen is headed back to Detroit’s 40- and 25-man rosters just over a month after the team outrighted him on April 27. VerHagen had thrown 10 innings of seven-run ball at that point, contributing to the 5.04 ERA he has posted across 94 2/3 innings with the Tigers since his 2014 debut.

    While VerHagen hasn’t produced in the majors, the hard thrower has been downright dominant with Triple-A Toledo this season. Over six starts and 27 1/3 innings, VerHagen has pitched to a 1.32 ERA with 13.5 K/9, 2.63 BB/9 and a 48.1 percent groundball rate. Those numbers are substantially better than the production he registered last year in 97 1/3 innings at the minors’ highest level (4.90 ERA, 6.38 K/9, 3.98 BB/9, 44.5 grounder percentage).

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Tigers Activate Miguel Cabrera, Designate Pete Kozma]]> 2018-06-01T20:54:27Z 2018-06-01T20:54:27Z The Tigers have activated star slugger Miguel Cabrera from the 10-day DL, as Jason Beck of reports on Twitter. Detroit designated infielder Pete Kozma for assignment to clear a roster spot.

    A hamstring injury had shelved Cabrera since early this month. He’ll look to pick up where he left off. Through his first 108 plate appearances of the year, the veteran posted a .323/.407/.516 slash.

    The 30-year-old Kozma had appeared at short, second, and third in his 15 games of action this year. He managed just seven hits and a walk in 41 plate appearances. The light-hitting utilityman owns a career .212/.277/.286 slash in 781 trips to the plate at the MLB level.

    In other roster news, the club recalled righty Zac Reininger. He’ll take the place of lefty Ryan Carpenter, who hit the DL yesterday.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Tigers Select Ronny Rodriguez]]> 2018-05-31T04:12:05Z 2018-05-31T04:12:05Z The Tigers announced after Wednesday evening’s game that they’ve selected the contract of infielder Ronny Rodriguez from Triple-A Toledo and optioned catcher Grayson Greiner back to Triple-A in his place. The move gives the Tigers a full 40-man roster.

    It’ll be the first call to the Majors for the 26-year-old Rodriguez, who signed a minor league deal with Detroit this offseason after previously spending his entire professional career with the Indians organization. The versatile Rodriguez posted a sound .291/.324/.454 slash in 483 plate appearances with Triple-A Columbus last year in his final season with the Cleveland organization, and he’s off to an even better start in his new environs, batting .302/.327/.484 with six homers, 13 doubles, a pair of triples and eight stolen bases (albeit in 13 attempts).

    Rodriguez has been primarily a shortstop and third baseman this season with the MudHens, but he’ll bring at least 585 innings of experience at all four infield positions to the Tigers’ roster. He’s also spent more than 300 innings in the outfield over the past three seasons, including 139 innings of work in center field. The right-handed hitter won’t walk much but also hasn’t had much of an issue with strikeouts during his time in Triple-A.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Tigers Release Gerson Moreno, Announce Pitching Roster Moves]]> 2018-05-30T21:00:37Z 2018-05-30T20:51:53Z 3:51pm: Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press adds some context to the surprising release of Moreno (Twitter link). The 22-year-old is set to undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, GM Al Avila revealed today.

    Avila added that placing Moreno on release waivers was the best way to get him off the 40-man roster while ensuring a chance to retain him via a new minor league deal (Twitter link via’s Jason Beck). A player claimed off release waivers can reject the assignment to a new club in favor of free agency, whereas a player claimed from outright waivers would not (unless he had previously been outrighted or has three-plus years of MLB experience — neither of which applies to Moreno). The Tigers are interested in bringing Moreno back to the organization if he reaches the open market, per Avila.

    2:35pm: The Tigers announced that they have released righty Gerson Moreno. That clears a 40-man roster spot, leaving the team with one opening.

    Moreno, 22, was given a roster spot last fall to protect him from the Rule 5 draft. He had struggled at the Double-A level but found some success in the Arizona Fall League.

    Entering the current season, Moreno graded among Detroit’s more notable prospects (see, e.g.,, Fangraphs) owing to his big fastball and reasonably promising (albeit still-inconsistent) secondary offerings. Thus far in 2018, Moreno’s return to the penultimate level of the minors has gone poorly. Through 17 innings, he carries a 5.29 ERA with 11.1 K/9 and 7.4 BB/9. Given the promise he showed heading into the season, it registers as at least some degree of surprise that the Tigers would simply cut him loose based on a handful of Double-A innings — no matter how discouraging they may have been.

    Detroit also announced, as it had indicated previously, that lefties Francisco Liriano (hamstring strain) and Daniel Stumpf (ulnar nerve irritation) are each headed to the 10-day DL. Two relievers — righty Johnny Barbato and southpaw Ryan Carpenter — have been recalled to replace them on the active roster. At this time, it’s still not known how long Liriano and Stumpf are expected to be sidelined.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Tigers Place Liriano, Stumpf On Disabled List]]> 2018-05-30T03:57:46Z 2018-05-30T03:57:46Z
  • Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire told reporters tonight that the team has placed left-handers Francisco Liriano and Daniel Stumpf on the disabled list due to a right hamstring strain and ulnar nerve irritation, respectively (Twitter links via Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press). It’s not clear exactly how long either is expected to miss, though the move will send one of the team’s top trade chips shelf (Liriano) while leaving Gardenhire without a left-handed option in the bullpen. Ryan Carpenter is coming up to join the team’s rotation for the time being, per’s Jason Beck (on Twitter), while right-hander Johnny Barbato will be added to the bullpen.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Miguel Cabrera Could Return Monday]]> 2018-05-27T16:02:31Z 2018-05-27T16:02:49Z
  • Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera could come off the disabled list as early as Monday, Evan Woodbery of tweets. The 35-year-old has missed upward of three weeks with a hamstring strain, which derailed an excellent start to his season. Cabrera put together a .323/.407/.516 line in 108 plate appearances before landing on the shelf.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Latest On Miguel Cabrera's Recovery]]> 2018-05-27T01:01:47Z 2018-05-27T01:01:04Z
  • Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera is making progress as he works back from a hamstring strain, as Evan Woodbery of details, but a return date for the future Hall of Famer is still unclear. Cabrera hasn’t played since May 3, before which he seemed to be in the midst of a bounce-back campaign. After posting an uncharacteristically pedestrian 2017, Cabrera opened this year – his age 35-season – with a .323/.407/.516 line in 108 PAs. Fortunately for Detroit, first base fill-ins John Hicks and Niko Goodrum have fared respectably in Cabrera’s stead.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Tigers' Minor League Free Agent Pickups Performing Well]]> 2018-05-25T02:06:14Z 2018-05-25T02:06:14Z
  • The Tigers did well in finding bargain minor league free agents in an offseason in which the front office was limited by budgetary restrictions, writes Chris McCosky of the Detroit News. McCosky notes that AGM David Chadd, in particular (with help from the scouting and analytics staffs), was tasked with identifying some six-year minor league free agent pickups, leading to acquisitions of players like right-hander Louis Coleman and infielder Niko Goodrum, each of whom has contributed in the Majors so far. As the 32-year-old Coleman explains to McCosky, he was uncertain he’d even get a chance to play this offseason after receiving little interest, and he ultimately had to earn a spot on the Triple-A roster after signing a minor league deal that didn’t have an invite to big league camp. Coleman allowed just four runs with a 15-to-5 K/BB ratio and eight saves in Triple-A before being added to the big league roster, and he’s since turned in seven shutout innings in the big leagues. Goodrum, meanwhile, isn’t getting on base much (.308) but has shown unexpected pop and filled in around the diamond at multiple positions. While the success of each player has come in a small sample of work, they, along with a slate of veterans in Triple-A Toledo, are ably holding down roster spots and performing fairly well while the organization’s younger players progress toward the system’s upper levels and, eventually, the Major Leagues.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Tigers Injury Updates: Candelario, Boyd]]> 2018-05-23T02:51:38Z 2018-05-23T02:51:38Z
  • Tigers third baseman Jeimer Candelario is slated to begin a minor league rehab assignment tomorrow, manager Ron Gardenhire told the Detroit Free Press’ Anthony Fenech (Twitter link) and other reporters.  The young third baseman was posting some big numbers (five homers, .272/.359/.497 in 167 PA) before being sidelined with tendinitis in his left wrist.  Candelario’s was placed on the DL on May 14, so it seems like he won’t miss much or maybe even any time beyond the 10-day minimum absence.
  • In more troubling injury news for the Tigers, southpaw Matthew Boyd was forced to leave his start after four innings tonight due to what the club described as an oblique spasm.  This is a lesser injury than a strain, though obviously Detroit wasn’t taking any chances with the young left-hander.  Boyd has delivered some good results with a 3.12 ERA over 52 innings, though advanced metrics indicate some batted-ball luck (.248 BABIP) and Boyd isn’t generating many grounders (32.9% ground ball rate) or strikeouts (7.1 K/9).
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Tigers Sign Kevin Chapman, Release Jairo Labourt]]> 2018-05-23T01:23:33Z 2018-05-23T01:23:44Z
  • The Tigers announced the purchase of left-hander Kevin Chapman’s contract from the independent Atlantic League’s New Britain Bees.  Chapman has been assigned to Triple-A.  The southpaw posted a 4.09 ERA over 55 relief innings for the Astros in 2013-16, and spent last season in the Braves’ and Twins’ farm systems.  The Tigers are short on left-handed relievers both in the majors and upper minors, so there seems to be an opportunity for Chapman to earn a spot back to the big leagues.
  • Southpaw Jairo Labourt has been released by the Tigers, as Evan Woodberry of covers on Twitter. Despite being a popular waiver wire target over the offseason, the 24-year-old lefty has not been in good enough form even to join an affiliate to this point. The Tigers originally acquired him in the 2015 David Price swap.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Tigers Getting Trade Calls About Francisco Liriano]]> 2018-05-21T04:57:07Z 2018-05-21T04:55:54Z
  • Even prior to Francisco Liriano’s gem of a start against the Mariners today, the Tigers have been getting trade inquiries about the veteran lefty, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports (Twitter link).  After signing a one-year, $4MM deal with Detroit last winter, Liriano earned a job in the rotation and now has a 3.42 ERA, 6.32 K/9, and 45.1% grounder rate through 52 2/3 innings.  It’s a nice improvement on paper from the struggles Liriano endured as a starter in 2017 and much of 2016, though there are some red flags — the lack of strikeouts, a 9.7% swinging strike rate, a 4.44 BB/9, and a .214 BABIP.  Interested teams could be looking at acquiring Liriano to work out of the bullpen, as the Astros did when they acquired the southpaw in a deadline trade with the Blue Jays last year.  Regardless, it looks like the Tigers should be able to score a decent prospect for their investment in Liriano in the offseason.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Braves Claim Chad Bell]]> 2018-05-15T19:25:36Z 2018-05-15T18:27:04Z The Braves have claimed lefty Chad Bell off waivers from the Tigers, per announcements from the teams. He had been designated for assignment recently by the Tigers.

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

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

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

    [Related: Detroit Tigers depth chart]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Onto some items from the NL Central…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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

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

    [Related: Detroit Tigers depth chart]

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

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

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