Detroit Tigers Should Pursue Henderson Alvarez


The Detroit Tigers are in need of pitching, that much is true. Even with the addition of Jordan Zimmermann, the team could use more quality pitchers. While the free agent currently offers a number of quality options, the recent wave of non-tendered players has injected new life and players into the market.

One of those players is Henderson Alvarez.

Alvarez likely won’t pitch a full season’s worth of games as he rehabs and recovers from surgery that would repair a right shoulder tear. Despite that, he’s well worth the risk.

The now-former Miami Marlins player is only 25-years-old, but has put up a 3.80 ERA in 92 career starts spanning 563 innings pitched. While he’s only struck out 296 batters over that span, he’s shown the ability to get outs on a consistent basis.

This ability was on constant display in 2014 as the right-handed pitcher posted a 12-7 record with an impressive 2.65 ERA in 30 starts. Over those 30 starts he also tallied 187 innings, three complete-game shutouts and 111 strikeouts compared to just 33 walks. These numbers helped earn Alvarez a spot at the All Star Game as well as a place on the Cy Young ballot. 

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His 2015 season was cut short by the injury that forced the surgery. Last season the former All Star was only able to pitch in 22.1 innings for the Marlins. During that span he made four starts while allowing 28 hits, 18 runs and seven walks. Despite the rough numbers in such a small sample size Alvarez only allowed one home run and put up a 3.85 FIP.

In other words, things will turn around for Henderson Alvarez. It would be extremely prudent of the Tigers to sign him while the team has the chance.

Although there is plenty of uncertainty (in terms of a return date) with the pitcher’s injury, he could provide the Tigers with a major boost if and when he pitches. Should he come anything close to Baseball Reference’s projection of his numbers, Detroit would stand to benefit. The site projects the pitcher to post a 3.50 ERA in 90 innings pitched. Brad Ausmus‘ team could use that kind of talent.

In addition to needing pitching help for the present, the Detroit Tigers could do with some young talent. As of now, the only pitchers who seem likely to be around in five years are Justin Verlander, Zimmermann, Daniel Norris, Michael Fulmer, Bruce Rondon, Blaine Hardy and Joe Jimenez.

That’s a solid group, but Verlander and Zimmermann will be winding down there contracts and careers while Hardy will be 33-years-old.

Norris and Fulmer both have the potential to be special, but they’ll need other starters to help carry the rotation. Alvarez can certainly do that.

While not a future ace like Norris or Fulmer, Alvarez is a definite frontline pitcher. He seems similar to Anibal Sanchez in the sense that (when he’s at his best) he’s a hybrid of a number two and number three starter. He won’t be any team’s ace, but he’ll still provide significantly above-average production. 

Next: Why Jordan Zimmermann Will Succeed Detroit

Henderson Alvarez is available. The Detroit Tigers should go and sign him.