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A sometimes-irreverent look at Detroit's Boys of Summer, the Tigers, as they try to defend their three straight American League Central titles.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Tigers trade for Alfredo Simon to replace Rick Porcello in the rotation

With Rick Porcello reportedly traded to the Red Sox earlier in the morning, that meant the Tigers were back down to just four reliable starters (and a possible spring training battle between rookies for the fifth spot), unless they did something else.

So they did, trading for the Cincinnati Reds' Alfredo Simon, giving up Eugenio Suarez and 2013 first-round pick Jonathon Crawford.


"He’s always been a pitcher that’s had premium stuff. ... He pitched in the bullpen early in his career, and was always a guy that never quite got over that hump of being a really good pitcher. Last year, his performance on the field matched his stuff," Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski said in the press conference announcing the deal, of Simon. "He has an above-average fastball, and quality stuff."

Simon, who slots right into the rotation, will be far cheaper than Porcello next season (he made $1.5 million last year to Porcello's $8.5 million), and both third-year arbitration eligible. Both will be free agents after the upcoming campaign.

But Simon will be 34 (Porcello is 25), and is coming off his first full year as a starter, earning All-Star honors, going 15-10 with a 3.44 ERA, with a 1.207 WHIP and a FIP of 4.33.

REPORT: Tigers swap sending Rick Porcello to Boston for Yoenis Cespedes a done deal

When he became a free agent after leaving Cuba in 2011, the Detroit Tigers were very interested in signing Yoenis Cespedes, before news of Victor Martinez’s injury forced them to go in a different direction, and give a huge contract to Prince Fielder.

Last winter, the Tigers rolled back the first part of that offseason’s moves, trading Fielder and his contract to the Texas Rangers.

Now, they may have finally acquired Cespedes as the much-rumored trade with the Red Sox — sending starting pitcher Rick Porcello to Boston — was reported to be complete Thursday morning, according to Fox Sports 1’s C.J. Nitkowski. [CLICK HERE FOR THE UPDATED STORY]

[UPDATES: Fox Sports’ Jon Morosi reported that the Tigers were getting a minor-league pitcher back in the deal, as well, and would use prospects to later trade for a starting pitcher to ostensibly replace Porcello in the rotation. Alex Speier of WEEI in Boston reported that the Tigers were getting two minor leaguers back in the deal.]

[UPDATE II: Speier reported that Alex Wilson is one of the minor leaguers coming back in the deal. A right-handed reliever, he posted a 1.91 ERA with a WHIP of 0.882 in 18 appearances with the Sox last year. Speier later reported that 19-year-old left-handed pitcher Gabe Speier, a 19th-round pick by the Sox in the 2013 draft, is the lower-level pitcher headed to Detroit.]

[UPDATE III: The Tigers later sent Eugenio Suarez and 2013 first-round pick Jonathon Crawford to the Reds for starter Alfredo Simon to take Porcello's spot in the rotation.]

Cespedes spent the final 51 games of last season with the Red Sox, coming over at the trade deadline in the deal that sent Jon Lester to the Oakland A’s.

In 416 games between the two teams over the last three seasons, Cespedes has hit 71 home runs, an average of just under 24 per year, but his .780 career OPS (on-base percent plus slugging) is not exactly menacing. He'd likely play left field and hit behind either Victor Martinez or J.D. Martinez.

Both Cespedes and Porcello will be free agents after the upcoming season.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Tigers swing 3-way deal, trading Robbie Ray, Domingo Leyba for NY's Shane Greene

The Tigers needed a mid- to back-end guy for their rotation last year, one that was financially controllable for years to come.

So they traded veteran Doug Fister to the Washington Nationals to get Robbie Ray in a package of prospects, in what was a heavily-panned offseason deal — only to find out Ray was not quite ready.

So the Tigers tried again apparently.

According to several reports, the Tigers are working on a three-way deal with the New York Yankees and Arizona Diamondbacks that would send Ray to Arizona, and bring back Yankees starter Shane Greene to Detroit. [UPDATE: The Tigers officially announced the trade, and will have a conference call to discuss it mid-afternoon.]

New York will get Diamondbacks shortstop Didi Gregorius to replace the retired Derek Jeter.

Sweeney Murti of WFAN reported the deal first.

There is reportedly another player from the Tigers’ system included in the deal, according to Fox Sports’ Jon Morosi, as well as two relievers coming back to Detroit from Arizona, according to the YES Network’s Jed Weisberger. [UPDATE: Weisberger tweeted that he "may have misfired" on the two relievers.] [UPDATE 2: Morosi confirmed it was minor-league infielder Domingo Leyba going from the Tigers to the Diamondbacks.]

Greene, 26, is not even arbitration eligible until after the 2017 season, and won’t become a free agent until after the 2020 season.

Perfect for a team like the Tigers that has a couple of high-priced front-end starters, and needs to fill behind them.

Greene went 5-4 with a 3.78 ERA in 14 starts for the Yankees last season, with a superb strikeout-per-9 ratio of 9.3. He’s a sinkerballer, like Rick Porcello, so he does give up hits, and had a career minor-league WHIP of 1.478.

The best start of his young career came against the Tigers in August, when he threw eight scoreless innings in a 3-1 win. His very next start, he struck out 10 against Tampa Bay.

The last time, of course, the Tigers engaged in a three-way offseason deal with the Diamondbacks and Yankees, they got Max Scherzer, Austin Jackson, Phil Coke and Daniel Schlereth in exchange for Edwin Jackson and Curtis Granderson.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Tigers protect Angel Nesbitt, Dixon Machado from Rule 5 draft, but not Joel Hanrahan

The Detroit Tigers got a head start on protecting young players from the Rule 5 draft, adding a bunch of them to the 40-man roster during the season.

That, of course, was because they had to use them.

Thursday was the deadline to ensure a player’s protection on the 40-man roster before the Rule 5 draft takes place at the Winter Meetings in three weeks, and the Tigers purchased the contracts of a pair of youngsters — reliever Angel Nesbitt and infielder Dixon Machado — to finalize that process.

With the 40-man roster full, the Tigers can’t take part in the draft itself, without clearing a spot for the player they’d want to pick.

The 23-year-old Nesbitt split the season between Single-A Lakeland and Double-A Erie in 2014, posting an overall ERA of 1.49 with 72 strikeouts in 66.2 innings of work.

Now 22, Machado finally started growing into his bat, hitting .286 with 39 extra-base hits between Lakeland and Erie, including a .305 average after his promotion to the Seawolves.

The Tigers also left recently re-signed reliever Joel Hanrahan off the 40-man roster. Theoretically, Hanrahan — who signed an incentive-laden minor league deal with the Tigers — is eligible to be selected, but the team that picked him would owe him the full value of the contract, at a reported $3.5 million with roster bonuses. One of the stipulations of the Rule 5 draft is that the selecting team must keep the player on the big-league roster (or DL) for the entire season, or offer him back to his original team.

Tigers claim RP Josh Zeid off waivers from Astros, DFA Ezequiel Carrera

The Tigers claimed reliever Josh Zeid off waivers from the Houston Astros, potentially reuniting him with his former World Baseball Classic manager from Team Israel, current Detroit skipper Brad Ausmus.

At one point last spring, Zeid was even hoping to recruit his one-time manager to join some other Jewish players on a trip to promote baseball in Israel. Ausmus was inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 2004.

"He's a big figurehead for me and us," Zeid told's Brian McTaggart in May.

To make room on the 40-man roster, the Tigers designated outfielder Ezequiel Carrera for assignment.

At 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, Zeid is a relatively hard throwing right-hander, who hits the mid-90s with his fastball (94.77 mph, according to PITCHf/x), complementing that pitch with a plus slider.

The 27-year-old pitcher was sidelined partway through his second season in the big leagues with bilateral sesamoiditis, and had to undergo a pair of surgeries six weeks apart, one on each of his feet, to fix what could’ve become a recurring issue.

Zeid had a first surgery on Aug. 6 (right foot), then another on Oct. 6 (left foot), and just got out of a walking boot yesterday.

Included in the trade that sent Hunter Pence from the Astros to the Phillies, Zeid was converted to a reliever in the Houston system, making his debut in 2013 after two seasons at Double-A. He made 48 appearances in two seasons with the Astros, faring far better the first time around, before injuries cropped up last season. After limiting lefties to a .178 average in 2013, they hit .455 off him last season. He also gave up six home runs in a little less than 21 innings of work.

Carrera hit .261 in 45 games with the Tigers last season, after joining the franchise on a minor-league deal last offseason. He struggled defensively, though, and was effectively replaced by trade acquisition Anthony Gose.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Tigers pick up $5.4 million option on Avila's contract for 2015

They waited as long as they could. They may have even entertained a trade offer or two.

But finally, the Detroit Tigers announced Monday they were picking up the $5.4 million option on catcher Alex Avila's contract for the 2015 season.

"Well, like we said before, we don’t have to do it yet. We usually wait on all those things until we have to do them," general manager Dave Dombrowski said at last week's news conference to announce the re-signing of Victor Martinez.

The team had until Nov. 20 to decide on Avila's option, or decline it for $200,000, and send him back to salary arbitration.

There were reports that the Tigers had entertained trade offers for Avila at the General Managers Meetings last week.

"I wouldn’t get into any individual discussions," Dombrowski said. "I would say that when you’re at the General Managers meetings, I was probably asked about every player just about that we have, at one time or another."

Avila's option would've vested automatically if he'd made the All-Star team in 2014, finished top 15 in MVP voting or won a Silver Slugger

Provided everyone's healthy, the Tigers are pretty solid defensively up the middle with a potential catching platoon of Avila/James McCann, Ian Kinsler at second and Jose Iglesias at short, along with recent trade acquisition Anthony Gose in center field.

Avila led the American League with 36 baserunners caught stealing, and was second in catcher caught stealing with 26.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Tigers tell Torii Hunter they won't pursue his return

The Tigers let Torii Hunter know Friday morning that they wouldn't be pursuing his return to the club.

Re-signing Victor Martinez for four years precluded the return of Hunter, whose two-year contract expired at the end of the season.


Hunter's agent told Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski that the 39-year-old outfielder did indeed want to play, maybe as long as two more years, and that Detroit was his preferred destination.

But with the addition of Anthony Gose in the outfield, moving Rajai Davis back to a corner, the Tigers did not have regular at-bats to give to Hunter.