Detroit Tigers: Should they sign Tony Zych?

SEATTLE, WA - JUNE 21: Relief pitcher Tony Zych
SEATTLE, WA - JUNE 21: Relief pitcher Tony Zych /

The Detroit Tigers have a lot of relievers competing for a spot in the bullpen. One intriguing name who just became available is Tony Zych.

The Detroit Tigers, as rebuilding teams typically do, have stockpiled a collection of minor league free agents. While most of them will have little to no impact in 2018, a handful of them will be counted on to contribute on the diamond. It’s even possible that one of them will step their game up and become the team’s next star (J.D. Martinez was a minor league signing by the Tigers back in 2014).

The best way to ensure that someone will step up and be a success is to take a chance on as many guys as reasonably possible. While the Tigers have already signed a plethora of minor league relievers, there is always room to give someone else a chance.

That someone else in this case is 27-year-old flame-thrower and former Mariner Tony Zych.

Tony Zych

After three injury prone seasons in Seattle’s bullpen, Tony Zych was placed on waivers for unconditional release. As soon as he clears waivers, Zych will be free to sign with any team. Zych is currently battling a shoulder injury which is expected to keep him out for two weeks. He is unlikely to command more than a minor league contract with an invite to spring training, which the Tigers should absolutely offer him.

In 72.2 big league innings, Zych has a 2.72 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP. He’s also posted a stellar 9.91 K/9. Zych’s 40.2 innings in 2017 were a career-high, and the right-hander posted a 2.66 ERA with a 6-3 record, one save and 12 holds.

Zych averages a hair under 95 miles per hour on his fastball, getting it up to 96.1 in 2015, when he struck out 24 in 18.1 innings.

The biggest knock on Zych is his health. He has only thrown 72.2 innings at the big league level since 2015. At age 27, he has yet to establish himself in a big league bullpen because of how much time he has spent on the DL.

Still, the injury risk is absolutely worth taking on if the Tigers can sign Zych to a minor league deal. His big league success would give him an instant leg-up on a spot in the bullpen over arms like Chad Bell, Warwick Saupold and Buck Farmer. If Zych gets hurt, he will cost the Tigers nothing to either cut or reassign to the minor leagues.

Next: Should the Tigers trade for Trayce Thompson?

A rebuilding team like the Tigers should be all over a reclamation project like Zych. It’s a low-risk, high-reward scenario that could net the Tigers a back-end of the bullpen flamethrower for a half-decade.