What Brennan Boesch’s Release Means For The Detroit Tigers


April 8, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers left fielder Brennan Boesch (26) makes a diving catch on a hit by Boston Red Sox catcher Kelly Shoppach (not pictured) during the fifth inning at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t altogether surprising that the Detroit Tigers cut ties with outfielder Brennan Boesch today, but the timing of the move snuck up on many people.

The Tigers are stating that it was a financial decision. Boesch and the Tigers agreed to a one-year arbitration-avoiding deal back in January that would have paid the outfielder $2.3 million this season, but it turns out that contracts like this aren’t fully guaranteed at the onset. The Tigers had until today to release him in order to recoup the largest possible portion of that money. Lynn Henning breaks it down.

The Tigers are obliged to pay only one-sixth of his salary, meaning they are on the hook for slightly less than $400,000. If he is claimed on waivers during the next 48 hours, the acquiring club is responsible for his entire salary.

We haven’t thought of the Tigers as a team that needs to save money in quite some time — they signed relatively big names like Torii Hunter and Anibal Sanchez this offseason — but they’re saving nearly $2 million here which isn’t an insignificant sum. It’s also possible that, at the time of the Sanchez signing, they didn’t expect (or account for the fact) that they might still have Rick Porcello under contract on opening day. We like to think of Mike Ilitch as having infinitely deep pockets, but we also know that that really can’t be the case.

Money aside, cutting ties with Boesch means there’s an open spot on the 40-man roster. This would pave the way for the Tigers to easily add a non-roster player to the team prior to opening day. That could be a player currently outside the organization — a “closer” perhaps, or a right-handed hitting outfielder — or it could mean everyone’s favorite utility man Don Kelly (among others).

Maybe they have a specific player in mind, or maybe they’d rather just wait and see what the team needs when camp is just about to break. Perhaps they’ll find that they really do need (or want) to make a run at Brian Wilson or Francisco Rodriguez to help stabilize the back end of the bullpen. Maybe they’ll see that Casper Wells really is going to get pushed out in Seattle and swing a low-cost deal to bring him back in the fold. Or maybe they’ll figure they’re all set and elect to bring Donnie Kelly (and all his ball gloves) back for one more fan-unfriendly season.

I’m not really sure what they’ll do with the open spot, but I’m guessing whoever that 40th man is, he’ll also be the 25th man on the active roster once the season starts.