The Detroit Tigers made exactly the sort of understandable yet confusing move that Chris discussed yesterday. Buster Olney (I believe) broke the news:
Chamberlain’s deal with DET: 1-year, $2.5 million, plus performance bonuses.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 12, 2013
$2.5 million dollars on a one year deal for Joba Chamberlain isn’t necessarily a bad thing. He wasn’t good last year (in fact he was very, very bad), but he has a history that includes a good level of success and could very well turn out to be worth the risk. I tend to believe the idea that there “is no such thing as a bad one-year deal”, and so I wouldn’t hate this signing in a vacuum. But what would make me dislike this deal is if it was the supposed “finishing touches” on the bullpen reconstruction project (not that Dave Dombrowski has hinted that it is).
Here’s what we’re currently looking at, as far as bullpen arms:
That might not be a terrible pen IF Rondon is healthy (and effective) and IF Alburquerque, Chamberlain, and Coke all bounce back, but that’s a lot of ifs. More ifs than I’m comfortable with. The above group may make a very good bullpen, that’s possible, but it’s not a group that could be collectively referred to as reliable.
There still appears to be plenty of room for another quality (yet reasonably priced) arm to throw in the mix. I have no idea if that’s in the plan (or budget), but it’s probably necessary if the Tigers hope to avoid the same sort of bullpen disasters that plagued them last season.
If the Tigers go on and add a quality seventh or eighth inning arm, then yeah, I like Chamberlain as a low-risk, high-upside signing. If they don’t, if they’re counting on Chamberlain to be a feature in the late inning mix, then I’m not so much on board with it.
The Tigers will need to cut a player from the 40-man roster to clear a space for Chamberlain.