Tigers General Manager Dave Dombrowski discussed the Brad Penny signing and the DFA of Armando Galarraga via conference call with the media this afternoon. While I wasn’t privy to the call, here’s what I’ve been able to put together thanks to twitter.
Jason Beck has the feeling that the Tigers didn’t know for sure they would be cutting ties with Galarraga when they signed his new contract six hours before designating him for assignment. I find this difficult to imagine. The fact is that when they tendered him a contract offer in December, they effectively decided to sign him at that point. They simply could not (thanks to the rules) back out of that agreement.
Further, while the Tigers would certainly like some insurance in case their current crop of starters has issues, keeping Galarraga and his $2.3 million price tag wasn’t going to be in the works. That’s simply too much money to pay a long reliever.
While I don’t doubt that this wasn’t set in stone at the time his new deal was signed, I’d have to imagine that the possibility was discussed, not just internally, but with Galarraga himself. The Tigers are a class organization who prides themselves on being loyal to their players. If they were to have blindsided Galarraga with this move, it would certainly reflect poorly on Mr. Ilitch, Jim Leyland, and Dombrowski. It would be the exact opposite way that Galarraga handled the Jim Joyce debacle last season.
The Tigers will try to trade Galarraga and have ten days to do so. While Dombrowski said today that he has no deal in place, as I had thought could be the case, he did say that enough teams have expressed interest that he doesn’t feel trading Galarraga will be an issue.
Regarding the timeline of these moves, Dombrowski expressed that the club didn’t want to “use” Galarraga and prevent him from finding employment elsewhere. Designating him now will allow for him to go to camp with another club in time to be at least considered in a rotation battle. Had the Tigers waited until mid-March to cut him, as they could have without further financial penalty, Galarraga would have been at a competitive disadvantage with his new club, in terms of fulfilling his goal to be a starting pitcher. Further, Dombrowski said that they would attempt to trade him to a club that Galarraga can start for. It appears as if they are at least trying to do right by the pitcher here.
The long and the short of this is that Galarraga’s days in Detroit are over. It remains possible that he could pass through waivers and be outrighted to Triple-A and stay with the organization, but if there have already been trade calls for him, I don’t think that scenario is a feasible one. Like it or not, Galarraga will be wearing new colors this season.