As one of the oldest teams in MLB, the Detroit Tigers have seen thousands of players come and go, who run the gamut between totally forgettable and Hall of Fame-levels of brilliance. On this year's free agent market, there are a number of former Tigers floating around who also represent a wide range of current outcomes. Some players' declines might see them leave the majors for good, and others will almost certainly be picked up for respectable amounts of money in the coming months.
The Tigers have had a very respectable offseason thus far in making additions that will supplement a young core that the front office believes in. Hopefully, they'll be able to make a run to the top of a relatively open AL Central division after getting their best finish in the standings since 2016. Detroit seems to be done with the bulk of their work, so the former Tigers floating around in the free agent pool are all unlikely to rejoin the team, but one does wonder what all of them, great and small, will do next.
5 former Detroit Tigers who are still MLB free agents as spring training approaches
The end of Spencer Turnbull's tenure with the Tigers was tumultuous, to say the least. After three rocky seasons from 2018 through 2020, it seemed like he finally hit his stride in 2021, when he pitched what's still the best year of his career by far. He threw a no-hitter against the Mariners that year, becoming the eighth Tiger to do so and the first since Justin Verlander's 2011 effort, and had a 2.88 ERA over 50 innings. It gave the Tigers a lot of hope for a homegrown pitcher who just hadn't been able to find his footing until then, but things took a turn in June 2021.
As good as he was in the first half of that year, he only managed to make nine starts before getting injured and undergoing Tommy John, which kept him out for all of 2022. He returned in the first series of the 2023 season but struggled early on (31 innings for a 7.26 ERA) and was sent down to Triple-A, where he got hurt again. The Tigers optioned him back to Toledo after he recovered, but he refused the assignment and became a free agent at the end of the season. After some strange, seemingly tense negotiations with the team, they came to an agreement to count 2023 as a full year of service in the major leagues before the Tigers sent Turnbull on his way.
As a free agent, nary a peep has come through about other teams' interest in him. Haggling with the club over qualifying for a full service year might have given him more leverage as a free agent, but it certainly didn't make him come across as a particularly easy player to work with. Opportunities may come when the pitching market starts to thin out more, but he's still unemployed as of now.