15 worst Detroit Tigers free agent signings in franchise history

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12. Fernando Viña, 2003-04

  • 2 years, $6 million
  • 0.6 WAR (seems high!), 29 games, .226 batting average, .577 OPS

The 2003 Detroit Tigers were not just bad, they were historically bad. The fact they “only” lost 119 games can be attributed to winning five of their final six games of the season, two in walk-off fashion.

That’s kind of a hard sell to make to any free agent when trying to put together a better roster for the following year. While owner Mike Ilitch famously did manage to nab future Hall of Fame catcher Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez by opening his checkbook in a huge way, he and President and General Manager Dave Dombrowski looked for more improvements to be made. One they landed on: two-time Gold Glove winner and free agent second baseman Fernando Vina, who was not without risks after missing all but 61 games in 2003 with a hamstring injury.

Vina was signed to a two-year deal worth $6 million. It did not go well for either party. Vina played in just 29 games, hitting .226 with .557 OPS and. He did, however, put up 6 DRS, which was about the only thing that saved him from putting up a negative WAR during his time in Detroit.

He never made it past the month of May of that year, and his season ended when he decided to have knee surgery to repair torn cartilage. Later implicated in the Mitchell Report, Vina denied using steroids in 2003 but did admit to ESPN using HGH in an attempt to get back to full health.