Sometimes general managers sign minor league free agents because they think they’ve found a hidden gem – this is how the Detroit Tigers came across Al Alburquerque before the 2011 season – and sometimes they sign minor league free agents to simply fill out their minor league rosters. This is the latter.
The Tigers have reportedly signed 31 year-old pitcher Shawn Hill, formerly of the Toronto Blue Jays, to a minor league contract. From MLive’s James Schmehl:
Toronto removed Hill from its 40-man roster in early October and the 31-year-old elected free agency, rather than outright accepting an assignment to the Blue Jays’ Triple-A affiliate.
Hill should provide organizational depth for the Tigers and is expected to serve as starter depth in the upper levels of their farm system, likely in Triple-A Toledo.
The soon-to-be-32 year old has pitched 242 major league innings across seven seasons (all but three as a starter), accumulating a 4.69 ERA in the process. He doesn’t strike out many batters, but doesn’t seem to walk a ton either.
Even if the Tigers don’t re-sign Anibal Sanchez this off-season, it seems unlikely that Hill would see much, if any, action in the major leagues as a member of the Tigers next year. Rick Porcello and Drew Smyly would certainly serve as the fourth and fifth starters, and Casey Crosby would likely fill in as the number one spot starter from the minor leagues. Hill might be in the mix with Adam Wilk (and Jeremy Bonderman?) as options should the organization need a second emergency starter.