The Best Free Agent Signings in Detroit Tigers History
Free Agent: Iván Rodríguez, 2004, 7.8 Points
4+ seasons, 4 above-average seasons, 1 pennant, 2.8 WAR/yr
If we measured this by psychological and narrative impact, Iván Rodríguez would certainly be at the top of the list. It’s rare to see a Hall of Famer sign a long-term deal with a historically bad team, but that’s what Rodríguez did in 2004. Yes, it’s likely no other teams were willing to meet his demands in terms of salary and years, but it’s hard to argue the Detroit Tigers didn’t get their money’s worth. Rodriguez’s signing seemingly gave Tigers fans permission to care about the team again, while his performance in the 2005 Home Run Derby at Comerica Park electrified a hungry fan base. Then in year three he was a huge part of Detroit’s unexpected run to the World Series. He had a rough go of it in his fourth season with the club, but he bounced back in the final year of his contract. Overall, Pudge hit .298/.328/.449 with 68 home runs in Detroit, and he also claimed the last 3 of his 13 Gold Glove awards.