The Detroit Tigers made two more additions to the team’s minor-league system on Wednesday. Detroit signed outfielder Chad Huffman and right-handed pitcher Michael Crotta to minor-league contracts. The team recently announced the transaction via Twitter.
While both have Major League experience, Huffman and Crotta also have recently spent time pitching in Japan.
Huffman was selected by the San Diego Padres in the 2nd round of the 2006 draft. He was later claimed off waivers by the New York Yankees in early 2010. The 30-year-old played in nine games with the Bronx Bombers, registering three hits while collecting two RBI and scoring a run. Huffman also drew two walks.
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At the Major League level, the former Yankee has seen time at both corner outfield spots. That’s where the bulk of his work came in Japan. Huffman can also fill in at first base.
For his big league career, the outfielder is a .167 hitter. However, he hit .270 in his last full season in Japan, and is a .282 hitter over his last 175 Triple-A games.
Crotta was also drafted in the 2006 draft. The 31-year-old was a 17th-round pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates. He made his big league debut in 2011 with Pittsburgh, pitching to a 9.28 ERA in 15 appearances (10.2 innings pitched). However, a 5.56 FIP suggests Crotta wasn’t as awful as his ERA suggests.
The 6’6”, right-handed pitcher has also spent time in the Washington Nationals system. More recently, he spent two seasons in Japan. Last season was a struggle, thanks to a 6.59 ERA in 30 appearances, but Crotta was much more successful during the 2013 and 2014 seasons. The former Pirate posted a 2.62 ERA in 61 appearances for the Nippon Ham Fighters in addition to a 3.57 earned run average in 51 appearances for the Nats’ Triple-A affiliate.
While neither received an invitation to Major League spring training, both will provide depth for the upcoming season.
Depth can be key for a team. This was extremely predominant last season for the Tigers as the team used 21 different position players and 27 different pitchers. The duo will likely have to overtake some recent minor-league signings and big-league incumbents, but there could be opportunity.
Left field is currently the most unsettled position. Anthony Gose is currently penciled in as the starter with Tyler Collins and Mike Aviles also in line to receive some at-bats. Finding another J.D. Martinez is unlikely, but if Hoffman can hit well at Triple-A, there could be opportunity if the Gose/Collins/Aviles grouping collectively struggles.
Crotta could also ascend to the big league level if he pitches well in the minors. Detroit’s bullpen is revamped, but teams can never have enough effective pitchers.
There’s still plenty of time left in the offseason for the Detroit Tigers to make more additions. It certainly wouldn’t be surprising to see the team add more depth.