Detroit Tigers: Should they claim RHP Zach McAllister?
By Andy Patton
The Detroit Tigers have an opportunity to add former Indians right-hander Zach McAllister to their bullpen for the rest of the season.
Another year, another less-than-stellar bullpen for the Detroit Tigers in 2018. While it’s true they aren’t playing for anything this season, it never hurts to look for ways to improve the roster. One such opportunity has arisen after the Cleveland Indians designated veteran right-hander Zach McAllister for assignment over the weekend.
McAllister, 30, was one of the longest tenured members of Cleveland’s organization. He came to them in 2010 as a player to be named later. Although he struggled to find his footing as a big league starter, he thrived in the bullpen.
From 2014-2017, McAllister tossed 183.1 innings in relief. He posted a 2.99 ERA, a 10.0 K/9 and a 3.3 BB/9. 2018 has not gone nearly as well however, as the right-hander has struggled alongside the rest of Cleveland’s bullpen. He is sporting a 4.97 ERA and a 7.3 K/9, although his 2.2 BB/9 is one redeeming quality. Plus, his 3.92 SIERA paints a better, albeit still pedestrian, picture.
It goes without saying that Detroit’s bullpen has not been good this season. Joe Jimenez is having an excellent season, even making his first career All-Star game. However, Shane Greene and Alex Wilson both have ERA’s north of four. In fact, the only other reliever with over 30 innings and an ERA under 4.00 is Louis Coleman, who sits at 3.41.
Obviously McAllister’s 4.97 ERA wouldn’t be an upgrade. However, his past performance is an indication that this season might be more of an aberration than a decline. It’s impossible to know for sure, but for Detroit Tigers GM Al Avila he’s worth taking a chance on. 30 is not ancient, and it’s very possible that McAllister just needs a chance of scenery to find some of his prior success.
McAllister is a free agent at the end of this season, so Detroit likely wouldn’t retain him beyond 2018. He’ll likely go unclaimed on waivers, and has the opportunity to reject an outright assignment to Triple-A. Assuming he does that, he will become a free agent who can be had for the prorated portion of the league minimum while the Indians pay out the rest of his salary.
McAllister will likely look to catch on with a playoff bound team, which makes Detroit’s chances of signing him slim. However, if he doesn’t garner much interest on that market, a change of scenery and a low-pressure situation in the Motor City could appeal to the veteran right-hander as he looks to build up value heading into free agency.