Detroit Tigers Reportedly Interested in Brad Boxberger
The Detroit Tigers bullpen is in serious need of reinforcements. That may seem like an obvious statement, but it’s true. Of the team’s relievers with at least 30 appearances, Blaine Hardy, Al Alburquerque and Alex Wilson were the only pitchers with an ERA under 4.30.
In comparison, the world champion Kansas City Royals had six relievers who made 30 or more appearances. The highest ERA of the six was Greg Holland, who checked in with a 3.83 ERA. The relief pitching in Motown was so bad that eight different relievers registered ERAs over 5.40. Neftali Feliz posted the highest ERA with an unsightly 7.62 number.
After taking all this into account, it’s not surprising that the Tigers are reportedly interested in Tampa Bay closer Brad Boxberger.
The Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin reported that the Astros and Tigers showed interest in Boxberger and fellow reliever Jake McGee.
The Rays closer got off to a strong start in 2015, allowing only nine runs in his first 33 appearances. That worked out to a 2.64 ERA. He also struck out 42 batters in 30.2 innings while saving 20 games. More importantly, his team went 26-7 in the games he pitched. However, after those 33 games Boxberger struggled. His ERA the rest of the season was 4.73 and he allowed 20 runs and 18 walks in only 32.1 innings pitched.
Despite those struggles, he’s still an extremely appealing pitcher. At only 27 years of age, Boxberger isn’t arbitration eligible until 2017. The earliest he can become a free agent is 2020.
Topkin notes that Tampa Bay won’t rush into any moves for Boxberger or McGee, “The Rays don’t seem motivated to move one, seeing the benefits of the tandem that, at least for 2016, is still relatively inexpensive.”
Regardless, Boxberger is a player who would fit well with the Tigers. The Rays won’t take just anyone for the team’s All-Star closer, so perhaps Detroit could tempt them with an offer revolving around Bruce Rondon. Rondon has the potential to be an All-Star like Boxberger currently is, but has yet to put it all together. After the reliever was sent home from the team because of his ‘effort level,’ it would surprise no one if Detroit moved on.
Tampa Bay has a long history of helping struggling relievers rebound, which could make Rondon appealing to them. However, for all his inexperience, Rondon isn’t at the level Boxberger is. The Tigers would need to send more to the Rays. A deal including Jose Iglesias may have worked a few weeks ago, but Tampa Bay just acquired Brad Miller from the Mariners. With Miller, Tim Beckham and Nick Franklin as in-house options, it would appear the Rays are set at shortstop.
It’s a good sign that the Tigers are interested in Boxberger. It means the team is actively searching for quality relief pitchers. Should the team bring pitchers of Boxberger’s quality, the bullpen will be in good hands in 2016.