Detroit Tigers: Top Free Agent Signings of 2015

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The 2015 calendar year was a challenging one for the Detroit Tigers. It include the 2015 MLB season, a season that started with promise, but ended in struggle. However, the tail end of the calendar year brought new hope. A plethora of new additions have put the Tigers back in contention following a 74-87 campaign.

Here at Motor City Bengals, we’ve already looked at the top three trades of the 2015 calendar year for the Tigers. Without further ado, here are the top three free agent signings Detroit made during the year.

Signing Jordan Zimmermann 

Sep 30, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann (27) delivers a pitch to an Atlanta Braves batter in the sixth inning of their game at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Without a doubt the best free agent signing, Jordan Zimmermann gives the Tigers another frontline starting pitcher to pair with Justin Verlander atop the rotation. The former Washington National also comes at a slight discount. The right-handed pitcher had a down season (relative to his own high standards) in 2015.

Zimmermann won 53 games while posting a 3.00 ERA and a 3.18 FIP from 2011 to 2014. He was worth a 16.2 WAR during that span.

Last season saw the starter win only 13 games while putting up a 3.66 ERA that was an entire run higher than his 2014 number (2.66). This likely led to a decrease in value on his contract. He was only worth a 3.5 WAR in 2015. If Zimmermann had a season like 2014, when he was 14-5 with a 2.66 ERA and a 2.68 FIP, he likely would’ve commanded a much larger contract than the one he signed with Detroit.

Bolstering the Bullpen with Mark Lowe

You’ll notice that these signings are all from this current offseason as opposed to during the season, or January or February. That’s mainly because before November, the Tigers’ top free agent signings were Neftali Feliz and Tom Gorzelanny.

Mark Lowe should provide a significant upgrade over the duo, who were worth -1.8 WAR. By comparison, Lowe’s WAR in 2015 was 1.5.

The reliever was especially effective against right-handed batters last season, holding them to a .196 batting average and a miniscule .229 on-base percentage.

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Almost by default, the former Mariner makes the team better. The righty posted a sparkling 1.96 ERA in 55 innings split between Seattle and Toronto. He’ll join Justin Wilson in providing a stable bridge to closer Francisco Rodriguez.

Adding Mike Pelfrey

You can probably make the case for either Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Mike Aviles here, but the fact remains that Pelfrey will step in an assume a starting role while Salty and Aviles are at worst vital bench cogs, and platoon options at best.

Pelfrey’s career numbers (61-81 record, 4.52 ERA, 6.8 WAR and 5.1 strikeouts per nine innings) won’t jump off the page, but he does one thing well—eat innings. The 31-year-old pitched 164.2 innings for the Minnesota Twins last season and 152.2 in 2013. He’s eclipsed the 150 inning mark seven times in his career.

Next: Detroit Tigers: Top Three Trades of 2015

While he won’t win any ERA titles, the former Twin will be a dependable source of innings. This will help the rotation and the bullpen immensely as neither will be as taxed as last season.

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