Five Detroit Tigers Become Free Agents


With the postseason done and dusted, the offseason has begun for the Detroit Tigers. This also means the onset of free agency. 139 players have hit the open market, including five now-former Tigers. They’re now free to sign with any club.

Alex Avila

General manager Al Avila (Alex’s father) has already confirmed that his son likely won’t be back with the team. In an article by Anthony Fenech published in the Detroit Free Press, the relatively-new general manager is quoted as saying “In reality, I would say that it would be probable” with regard to Alex leaving via free agency.

Aug 16, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Detroit Tigers Image via Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It’s the end of an era if Avila leaves. One of the longest-tenured Tigers, the younger Avila was around for the Detroit teams at the beginning of the decade that featured the likes of Brandon Inge, Magglio Ordonez and Curtis Granderson.

Avila got off to a promising start career-wise, posting a .295 batting average, 19 home runs and 82 RBI in 2011. That season he appeared in the All Star Game, won a Silver Slugger and garnered more MVP votes than Victor Martinez, Adrian Beltre and Josh Hamilton.

In the four seasons since, injuries have taken their toll on the catcher. Nowhere has this been more predominant than at the plate where Avila has hit only 35 home runs and driven in 155 runs over the past four seasons. His collective batting average over the span is .224. Should the younger Avila leave, Bryan Holaday is likely to take his spot as backup catcher.

Tom Gorzelanny

While Avila has been with the Tigers since 2009, Gorzelanny was new to the team this season. In fact, 2015 marked the reliever’s first stint in the American League.

It didn’t go well.

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After posting a sparkling 3.13 ERA in 178.1 innings from 2012 to 2014, the former Pittsburgh Pirate failed to deliver in Detroit. His earned run average jumped to 5.95 and his walks ballooned as well. For his career, Gorzelanny has almost twice as many strikeouts as walks. This season, he struck out 36 batters in 39.1 innings. Truth be told, that’s not an awful total, but his 23 free passes weren’t anything to write home about.

Given the high probability of a bullpen overhaul, don’t expect Gorzelanny back in Motown next season.

Rajai Davis

My colleague Kristen Bentley already wrote about the benefits of bringing back Davis, so check that out.

To put it simply with Davis, he plays a position that the Tigers have a need at. The outfielder is the most likely of the players on this list to return to Detroit next season.

Randy Wolf

With a number of young pitchers struggling in the rotation, he Tigers traded for Wolf to provide stability. Initially, it seemed like the veteran could eat some innings for Detroit and keep the team in games.

But like his younger counterparts, Wolf struggled mightily.

Brad Ausmus’ former teammate allowed 46 hits and 24 earned runs in 34.2 innings. That equates to an unsightly 6.23 ERA and an equally unsightly 11.9 hits allowed per nine innings. Detroit may revamp both the team’s starting rotation and bullpen, so there likely isn’t room on for Wolf in 2016 unless he suddenly becomes an effective reliever.

Alfredo Simon

Acquired to fill one of the rotation spots vacated by Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello, Alfredo Simon showed flashes early on as a member of the Tigers’ rotation.

Sep 5, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA Image via Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The former Cincinnati Red generally pitched at a high level from the beginning of the season to mid-July. Over that time period “Big Pasta” owned a 2.58 ERA, an 8-4 record and a .231 batting average against in 76.2 innings.

If you stop reading this article now, Alfredo Simon’s time in Detroit would seem like a success.

However, if you’re a Tigers fan you know that it was anything but.

From June 20th through the end of the season, Simon allowed 83 earned runs in only 110.1 innings pitched. Opposing hitters OPS against the Tiger was .905.

Want more stats? You’ve got them: Simon’s ERA was 6.77 in those 110.1 innings. 6.77! That’s despite a complete game, one-hit shutout against the Rangers. During those innings, he made 19 starts. He gave up 19 home runs.

In the end, Simon’s acquisition and season sum up Detroit’s season to a tee: started with promise, got off to a strong start, flopped spectacularly.