Detroit Tigers bring back Joba Chamberlain

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Surprising news this morning out of Detroit Tigers camp, the team has agreed to terms with Joba Chamberlain.

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It did not even seem that Joba was on the Tigers’ radar this offseason and they were building a new-look bullpen without him. Ken Rosenthal first reported the news early Tuesday morning. Pending a physical, Chamberlain will sign a one-year, major league deal.

It was the tale of two seasons last year for Chamberlain. He was the most consistent Tigers’ reliever and was doing fairly well when Joe Nathan was struggling. On June 7, he had an ERA of 2.39 and seemed destined to cash in this offseason.

That never materialized, however, as Joba struggled through the rest of the regular season, though he ultimately finished with a decent 3.57 ERA and 1.286 WHIP. Tigers fans will not forget the three-run lead he helped to blow in Game 2 of the ALDS that put Detroit in an 0-2 hole they could not recover from last fall.

It is unclear what Joba’s role will be, but it likely will not be setup man on a regular basis since that position has all but been handed to Joakim Soria. Joba also had no clear bullpen role last fall, but was pushed into setup when Bruce Rondon went out with injury and would miss the season due to Tommy John surgery.

Rosenthal wrote that Dave Dombrowski knew Chamberlain was dealing with off-field issues that may have led to his second half bust.

"The second half proved Chamberlain’s undoing — his strikeout-to-walk ratio cratered, and opponents batted .271 with a .726 OPS after the All-Star Game, as opposed to .226 with a .590 OPS before. Part of the problem was that Chamberlain spent considerable time tending to his ailing mother, often leaving the team on off-days to be with her in Lincoln, Neb.“Joba’s had some issues family-wise,” Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski told the Detroit Free Press after the team clinched the AL Central. “His mom’s been very sick. People don’t realize how that has affected him at times.”"

Like it or not, Joba is back. Could it be because it is looking more and more unlikely that Joel Hanrahan will help the club anytime soon, if at all?

The terms of the deal have not yet been disclosed (UPDATE: Its a one-year, $1M deal with incentives), but if it’s an affordable deal for the club and he gets rocked in Spring Training, the Tigers could easily move on.

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