Evidently, the Detroit Tigers are making good on their goal to add arms to their pitching staff this offseason, though both of their additions this offseason deservedly come with equally understandable reasons to be either cautiously optimistic or somewhat frightened. Per Jeff Passan of ESPN, starter/reliever Jack Flaherty has agreed to a one year, $14 million deal with the Tigers.
Flaherty is the Tigers' third overall acquisition and second free agent pitcher signing of the offseason, following a trade for Mark Canha on Nov. 4 and a signing of Kenta Maeda on Nov. 28. Scott Harris told Evan Petzold of The Detroit Free Press just days ago, "We're always going to be looking for pitching. We're going to keep looking for pitching. ... I just never feel like we have enough pitching, and I'm always going to be looking for pitching."
Detroit Tigers news: Jack Flaherty signs one year, $14 million contract
Harris is a fan of finding upsides in bounce back free agents who he can sign relatively cheaply. He did it with his previous team, the San Francisco Giants, who signed Carlos Rodón and Anthony DeSclafani ahead of career years for them. With the Tigers, he can arguably add Michael Lorenzen to his list of successes; he had a decent year for the Tigers before heading to Philadelphia and almost immediately pitching a no-hitter.
Flaherty is the kind of pitcher who anyone would need to have a good deal of faith in in order to sign. He was a Rookie of the Year candidate in 2018 and a Cy Young and MVP candidate in 2019, when he posted a 2.75 ERA over 196 1/3 innings. But his downfall was swift, with a 4.42 ERA in the years since, a fall from grace in St. Louis, and a trade to Baltimore, where he was relegated to a bullpen role but didn't show many signs of improvement. With the Orioles, he pitched 34 2/3 innings for a 6.75 ERA. He also pitched two postseason innings in which he gave up a run and three walks.
Signing Flaherty, especially for $14 million, is a very generous and optimistic stance for the Tigers front office. A one-year deal does indicate some caution, but it could be an incentivizing overpay for a player who was expected to make $11 million a year on his next contract. It's unclear what capacity he'll join the Tigers in, as a starter or a bullpen arm, but for the amount of money he's making, it feels safe to assume the latter.