Weird contract clause allowed Tigers to trade reliever to Korean team

Detroit Tigers pitcher Drew Anderson throws during spring training at TigerTown in Lakeland, Fla. on
Detroit Tigers pitcher Drew Anderson throws during spring training at TigerTown in Lakeland, Fla. on / Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

Although the Detroit Tigers managed to take their first series of four against the Royals, maybe their most direct competition in the AL Central this year, Game 1 on Friday featured a bullpen meltdown of epic proportions that didn't exactly bode well for the rest of the series.

Tigers pitching kept things to a 1-0 Royals lead until the top of the ninth, when Tyler Holton allowed two runs to score on back-to-back, bases loaded hit by pitches. Things spiraled, and by the end of side, Kansas City had eight runs on the board, and Tigers batters, who'd managed to get on base seven times throughout the game, couldn't turn sparks into fire.

While all of that was going on, the Tigers were also making a roster move. It wasn't going to have any effect on what was happening on the field, but it was curious. Tigers PR announced that reliever Drew Anderson, a non-roster invitee at spring training this year who was noted for the uptick in his velocity after spending a few seasons in NPB, had been traded to the KBO's SSG Landers in exchange for cash considerations.

Tigers reliever and NRI Drew Anderson traded to KBO team in surprising, rare move

Anderson last pitched in the majors in 2021, when he was called up a few times with the Rangers before he was released so that he could pursue an opportunity in Japan's NPB. He pitched for the Hiroshima Carp (Kenta Maeda's former team) for two seasons before being released and returning to the States. He signed a minor league contract with the Tigers with an invite to spring training, where his fastball velocity jumped from 92 to 98 mph in camp.

Three conditions had to be met in order for Anderson to be released and sent to an Asian team: he had to accept an offer from a team, the Tigers "had to not promote [him] to the major leagues within a period of time after getting notified," and the new team would pay the Tigers a negotiated amount in exchange for him.

It might be a disappointing outcome for Anderson, who never found his legs in the majors before he left for NPB in late 2021, but his career is certainly not over. Maybe he just needs another season overseas for an MLB comeback to really stick.