According to MLBTR, the Dodgers are putting Ted Lilly through unconditional release waivers – he’s likely to be a free agent in a matter of days. Dave Dombrowski has been long rumored to covet Ted Lilly – though Lilly’s injury troubles over the past couple of seasons might have put a damper on that. At any rate, the Tigers would have been happy to pay Lilly more than what he is currently being paid by the Dodgers when last he was available – but Lilly wasn’t interested. If the Tigers want him now, for any role, he won’t cost prospects and he won’t cost millions – and the lure of a playoff run might induce him to sign.
According to Chris Cotillo, Lilly is willing to start or relieve and willing to spend a little time in AAA – but he’s only willing to go to a contender. If you ignore the injuries, there’s a lot to like about Lilly. Even with those injuries he has a 3.77 ERA and WHIP under 1.30 over the past couple of seasons. He has gotten hit fairly hard in rehab starts this year and last, for what that’s worth. It could be bad stuff, but it could also be bad luck or the fact that a guy making rehab starts doesn’t necessarily approach pitching the same way. It could be that the Dodgers have given up on Lilly after that, but I don’t think so. Lilly is untradeable due to the contract and the injuries and the Dodgers have been stockpiling so much pitching depth that some guys were bound to feel disrespected by changes in their roles. That’s the case for Lilly – who apparently didn’t like the fact that LA not only wanted him to move to the ‘pen but wanted him to prove himself in AAA (a la Jose Valverde) before giving him a role there for the big league club. That relationship is toxic, that contract can’t be moved, hence that player is getting released. Lilly is likely to get looks from teams that need a 5th starter, but he’ll probably pick a team and then take whatever role they’ll give him. The Tigers don’t have a vacancy in the rotation at the moment, but in my opinion they could use a bullpen lefty. Lilly is emphatically not a LOOGY like Phil Coke has become, his plus change has given him a trivially small career L/R split that actually favors lefties. That’s a good thing, not a bad thing, because as we have seen Jim Leyland is incapable of keeping his LOOGIES from facing right-handed batters. Lilly might be better used as the long man rather than the second lefty, replacing Evan Reed on the 25-man roster rather than Phil Coke. If we are counting on Drew Smyly to play a key role in the bullpen over the last two months of the season and beyond, then the Tigers would also benefit from having Lilly around as a better option to make spot starts or – should one of the big 5 go down – fill in in the rotation. I’d say make him an offer – the cost is negligible and it he could make the team better.