Per the team’s official Twitter account, the Detroit Tigers will not tender contracts to relief pitchers Neftali Feliz and Al Alburquerque. The pair will now become free agents as the Tigers’ bullpen overhaul continues.
It marks the end of relatively quick stay Feliz’ tenure with Detroit. The reliever was added in the middle of the season with the hope he could rediscover the form he showed when won Rookie of the Year honors with Texas. However, the former Rangers closer failed to live up to his potential in Motown.
Feliz appeared in 30 games for the Tigers. He notched four saves, but posted an unsightly 7.62 ERA. He also allowed 10.5 hits per nine innings while giving up 33 hits in 28.1 innings pitched. Feliz’ 3.95 FIP painted a much more positive picture. Regardless, the Tigers have apparently decided to move in a different direction.
Detroit will also be moving on from one of the team’s longest tenured players.
Al Alburquerque was not tendered a contract after a down season. The reliever was second on the Tigers staff to Blaine Hardy in terms of number of appearances. Alburquerque pitched out of the bullpen 67 times, totaling an even 62 innings pitched. Like Feliz, his FIP (3.75) suggested better results. However, it appears he will now hit the open market.
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Since signing with the Tigers in November of 2010, Alburquerque pitched in 241 games for Detroit. He owned a 3.20 ERA and 3.34 FIP during that span. In addition to those numbers he also struck out 275 batters in only 225 innings.
The reliever also appeared in 14 playoff games as a Tiger. He struck out 14 batters in those games while posting a 1-1 record. His career playoff ERA is 5.40.
What’s more, thee two moves will save the Tigers some extra cash to pursue other upgrades. MLBTradeRumors.com projected Feliz and Alburquerque to earn $5.2 and $2.1 million respectively through arbitration. It’s purely speculation, but given Detroit’s needs in the bullpen, it wouldn’t be surprising to see either player back with the team at a reduced salary in 2016. Both have pitched well in the past, it may have been that 2015 was simply a rough season.
Since the two are now free agents, the Tigers have two additional 40-man roster spots to tinker with.
Owner Mike Ilitch itch was recently quoted by ESPN as saying “I don’t care about the money” in terms of spending to improve the team. It’s clear that he’s more than committed to bringing a title to Detroit. With Feliz and Alburquerque’s contracts off the books, general manager Al Avila will have even more room to play with as he seeks to mold the Detroit Tigers into the championship team Ilitch desires.