The Detroit Tigers have cleaned up their roster a bit since the beginning of the off-season. While they have added Torii Hunter and made some key re-signings, much of their improvement upon last year’s roster has come by subtraction. Let’s take a look at where some of their displaced have landed this winter.
Delmon Young will have to fake it in the outfield if he wants to stick at his new job with the Philadelphia Phillies.
First we have Delmon Young. Rarely has a number one draft pick fallen so far; the 27-year-old designated hitter by nature amassed -1.2 Baseball-Reference WAR last season, combining poor batting with zero athletic ability. Besides miserable play, Young struggled with the law last year, finding himself arrested after a Manhattan altercation in April that saw him screaming anti-Semitic slurs. In spite of that, Young has found a job with the Philadelphia Phillies, whose Jewish general manager Ruben Amaro signed him for $750,000 guaranteed after consulting the Jewish community. As a National League player, Young will have to try to earn at-bats as an outfielder despite his atrocious glove work.
Longtime Tiger fan punching bag Ryan Raburn has also found a new club, this one a bit closer to home. The Cleveland Indians have given the spotty utility man a minor league contract with an invite to major league spring training. As Matt Snyder noted here, Raburn has a tendency to perform well in the spring and it would thus not be shocking to see him make the Indians’ roster. It seems we may get to see our old friend quite a bit this year, and under happier circumstances.
(The Tigers paid those two players $8.85 million for their services last year.)
Jeff Baker, who played just 15 disappointing games down the stretch for the Tigers, could find himself playing for a fifth major league team this year. The journeyman bench player scored a minor league deal with a spring training invite from the Texas Rangers. Detroit was said to be looking for a right-handed outfield bat earlier this offseason, but it appears they were thoroughly uninterested in repeating the failed Baker experiment.
Finally, there’s Gerald Laird. I’m partial to Laird myself, and I don’t view his subtraction as an addition. But it was time for Laird to move on. His signing a two-year deal with Atlanta Braves worth $3 million plus performance bonuses was probably a wise career move. With Brian McCann recovering from shoulder surgery, Laird will be the Braves’ opening day starter.
Two even more polarizing former Tigers, Brandon Inge and Jose Valverde, remain unemployed. Though, with Laird an exception, these guys all had forgettable stays in Detroit, I wish them all well in their new jobs around the league.