Ex-Tigers lefty joins division rival for stretch run on surprise major-league deal

Kansas City Royals v Detroit Tigers
Kansas City Royals v Detroit Tigers / Duane Burleson/GettyImages

Matthew Boyd's seven-year Tigers tenure is marked by a couple of highs (pretty much all in 2019, when he recorded a career-high 13 strikeouts (at the time the highest of any Tiger since Max Scherzer in 2014), and recorded 200+ strikeouts on the season, the first Tiger to do it since Justin Verlander). But those seven years of mostly consistency and some peaks also happened to be one of the worst stretches for the team as a whole.

Boyd stood out in 2019 in particular because the Tigers were, quite literally, the worst team in baseball that year. They finished 47-114, their second worst record in franchise history. Boyd still had a 4.56 ERA at the end of that season, but his successes in the face of Detroit's utter failure made him stand out as the tiniest sliver of a silver lining.

He started the 2021 season as the Tigers' ace, but he only managed to make 15 starts that year (78 2/3 innings pitched) in between dealing with various injuries. Detroit non-tendered him in the offseason, making him a free agent.

He bounced around for the next few years, from the Giants to the Mariners, before returning to the Tigers last year which, unsurprisingly at this point, didn't go very well. Again, he only pitched 15 starts for a 5.45 ERA before suffering a UCL sprain and having to undergo Tommy John.

Boyd has been floating around in free agency ever since then, with teams understandably hesitant to take a chance on an injury-prone, 4.94 career ERA pitcher. However, it looks like he found someone to take a chance on him, and a Tigers rival, no less. Boyd reportedly agreed to a major league contract with the Guardians on Thursday.

He'll likely need a bit of time to fully ramp up, but if all goes well could help the Guardians down the stretch.

Former Tiger Matthew Boyd signs a major league deal with division rival Guardians

Boyd's deal is pending a physical which, with his track record, could be the rub here. If all's clear, though, he'll join a Guardians team that's first in the AL Central by a mile and has the second best record in all of baseball behind the Phillies. Their rotation has taken the loss of Shane Bieber fine enough, given the team's winning record, but their combined ERA still places them 10th in the AL and 20th in baseball.

The Tigers are set to see the Guardians during three more series and 10 more games this season, so it almost feels inevitable that they'll run into Boyd again later this year. It doesn't seem like there are hard feelings, necessarily, between him and his former team, but it would also be hard to watch him recover and get better for another team when, in his last two years with the Tigers, he seemed perennially hurt and perennially disappointing.

While it's great that he's managed to get himself a shot at a second life in the majors, it also wouldn't hurt anyone if the Tigers knocked him around a little and maybe even put up a rare rout whenever they do see him.