Even after an offseason of significant moves, the Detroit Tigers could still be in the market for additions.
The Detroit Tigers have accomplished quite a bit during the offseason.
By adding the likes of Justin Upton, Jordan Zimmermann, Francisco Rodriguez, Cameron Maybin, Justin Wilson, Mark Lowe, Mike Pelfrey, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Mike Aviles, Detroit has all of the team’s immediate needs.
The group has solidified and improved the Tigers’ positional outlook in left field, center field, the bullpen, the rotation and the bench. However, Detroit and general manager Al Avila may not be finished yet.
MLB.com’s Jason Beck passed along a quote from Avila that the Tigers’ decision-maker would “still like to have more depth in pitching… We’re adequate right now.”
This could mean additions in the bullpen or the rotation—or both.
After the Upton contract, it’s unlikely that Detroit will add another reliever on a contract similar to the one Mark Lowe received. So reclamation projects and buy-low options seem like a good bet where the bullpen is concerned. It’s much easier to find a quality reliever off the scrap heap than it is a dependable starting pitcher.
However, some kind of addition in the rotation shouldn’t be ruled out either. As it stands, Justin Verlander, Zimmermann, Anibal Sanchez and Pelfrey are locks to start. Daniel Norris seems close to a lock as well, but the Tigers may want to limit his innings in order to help his career. The same can be said of Matt Boyd.
Boyd, who like Norris came over in the David Price trade, could pitch his way into a meaningful role with a strong Spring Training. Despite that, the fact remains that the 24-year-old Boyd has only made 12 career starts while fellow rotation hopeful Shane Greene posted a 6.88 ERA (5.14 FIP) in 2015. Greene also spent time in Triple-A in addition to a bullpen stint towards the end of the season as he tried to put it all together.
Based on the youth of Norris and Boyd, not to mention Greene’s struggles, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Detroit take a flier on someone coming off a down year.
In terms of the bullpen, any number of free agent relievers could make sense. The Tigers are set with Rodriguez as the team’s closer with new additions Wilson and Lowe joining incumbent stalwarts Blaine Hardy and Alex Wilson as set-up options. Drew VerHagen seemingly stands a good chance of making the team out of Spring Training after posting a 2.05 ERA and a 0.9 WAR in only 26.1 innings last season.
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Ryan struggled early as a starter (5.28 ERA), but did put up a 3.51 ERA as a reliever.
Farmer’s career earned average is 8.15 in 49.2 innings pitched. He’s had trouble in both roles during his Major League career. As a starter, the 24-year-old has a 10.09 ERA in seven career starts and a 5.12 ERA in 11 relief appearances. I should point out that the previous sentence did not have any typos. Those stats are real.
Then there’s Bruce Rondon, who was sent home because of his “effort level” before last season’s conclusion. In total, the flame-throwing reliever pitched to a 5.81 ERA in 31 innings.
Ferrell and Valdez have appeared in a combined 16 games, and have nearly identical FIPs (6.58 for Ferrell and 6.57 for Valdez). It’s too early to judge either based on a small sample size. That being said, both could probably use time to develop in with Triple-A Toledo.
Nesbitt started 2015 with the Tigers, and pitched well. The 25-year-old held opposing hitters to a .191 batting average while posting a 2.70 ERA in his first 13.1 innings. After that, hitters posted a .359 average against Nesbitt. As a result, the right-handed pitcher’s ERA jumped was 8.68 over that span. Detroit soon demoted him to Toledo, and Nesbitt wasn’t hear from again thanks to a 6.25 ERA with the Mud Hens.
Avila’s comments about being “adequate” in terms of pitching depth seem to be spot on. The Detroit Tigers certainly could use more arms as the current backup options are simply too inexperienced and ineffective.