Category Archives: Detroit Tigers Gear

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Some of the most intriguing free agents for the Detroit Tigers don’t begin the offseason as free agents.

We’ve seen evidence of that already.

Eric Thames dropped onto the market on Monday when his option was declined by the Milwaukee Brewers. Wilmer Flores was added to the list of free agents last week when the Arizona Diamondbacks bought out his deal.

There will be more to come as teams finalize their decisions about who they will sign and who they will “non-tender” in the weeks ahead.

These players can be more alluring than traditional free agents (with six years of Major League service time) because they’re younger and sometimes cheaper.

Free agency is just getting under way and there’s no rush for the Tigers to sign anyone. They could even wait until January or February to do much of their shopping.

But they have money to spend and more needs than they can count. Here are five guys whose agents they should call right now and say, “Don’t make any decisions until you talk to us.”

AP photo by Jim Mone

Jason Castro

Yes, the Tigers have two young catchers (Jake Rogers and Grayson Greiner), but the Tigers desperately need some offensive help at the position.

If they could snag a veteran on a one-year deal (preferably a left-handed hitter), it would be ideal.

Castro, who turns 33 in June, fits the bill. A well-respected defensive backstop, he’s coming off a very solid offensive season with the Minnesota Twins. A left-handed hitter, Castro would fit nicely into a strict platoon with Greiner or maybe a 50-50 split with Rogers, depending on how the Tigers decide to approach 2020.

How much would he cost? He’ll probably seek a two-year deal, but we’ll say one-year, $6 million plus an option.

Backup plan: For all the same reasons listed above, how about Alex Avila? He’s a veteran lefty and, having played for the Tigers twice before, is very familiar with the pitching staff.

AP photo by Andrew Harnik

Eric Thames

The Tigers need to add some power to their lineup, and there’s usually no easier, cheaper way of doing so than signing a first baseman.

Thames, who turns 33 this month, has had success in Korea and might opt to go back overseas. But perhaps the Tigers can convince him to stick around.

Thames hit 25 home runs and slugged .503 in 149 games with the Brewers in 2019. He’s terrible against lefties, but that’s OK because the Tigers have plenty of right-handed options for a platoon (Jeimer Candelario, Brandon Dixon or maybe even Miguel Cabrera) at first base.

How much would he cost? No idea. The Brewers didn’t think he was worth $7.5 million. So let’s say one year, $6 million.

Backup plan: Justin Smoak. Wouldn’t it be fun to have a Tiger who could draw a walk every once in a while? The ex-Blue Jay would be a great fit in Detroit.

AP photo by Rick Scuteri

Wilmer Flores

Did you know that over the last four seasons Flores has posted a 110 OPS+ in 1,411 plate appearances? He’s very quietly been a solid and consistent hitter. And now he’s a free agent at the still-young age of 28.

Why is Flores unemployed? While he can play every spot on the infield, he plays none of them very well.

He could play first (and maybe even platoon with Thames or Smoak!), but he would deliver more value as a second baseman, where he’s been only a little bit below-average defensively, according to the metrics. He would deliver a huge offensive upgrade over Harold Castro or Ronny Rodriguez at second.

How much would he cost? One year, $4 million.

AP photo by Alex Gallardo

Kole Calhoun

The Tigers could use a veteran outfielder. If they can find one who plays great defense, that would be even better. That’s what makes Calhoun such a great fit. It’s been a while since the Tigers have had a competent defensive right fielder.

Calhoun had 33 home runs in 2019, a feat that he is unlikely to repeat in 2020. But he’s still likely to provide league-average run production with above-average defense. That’s worth a one-year deal, right?

How much would he cost? One year, $7 million.

Backup plans: Among affordable corner outfielders who play above-average defense, Corey Dickerson comes to mind. For a bounce-back candidate on a minor-league deal, what about Lonnie Chisenhall?

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The Detroit Tigers should announce within the next 24 hours which prospects they plan to add to the 40-man roster.

That might be the extent of the excitement for the next few weeks.

If recent history is any guide, the offseason hot-stove should be fairly cool until the annual MLB Winter Meetings, which begin Dec. 9 in San Diego.

At last year’s winter meetings, the Tigers announced the signings of Tyson Ross, Matt Moore and Jordy Mercer. Two years ago, they signed Mike Fiers and Leonys Martin. Three years ago, they traded second baseman Ian Kinsler.

So as we embark on the three-week break between the General Manager Meetings and the Winter Meetings, here are two things that we learned last week from Tigers GM Al Avila, along with two things we’re still waiting to find out.

1. A new catcher is a must.

The Tigers aren’t going to play it coy with this one. Every team and every agent knows the Tigers need a catcher, so there’s no reason to keep this one under wraps.

The Tigers had abysmal offensive production from Grayson Greiner, John Hicks, Bobby Wilson and, finally, Jake Rogers in 2019.

Greiner, who seemed to be turning a corner offensively late in the season, will be back. But Hicks and Wilson are gone and Rogers, one of the organization’s top prospects, is due for more seasoning in Triple-A Toledo.

That leaves a spot for a veteran catcher to work alongside Greiner. Jason Castro and Alex Avila seem like obvious candidates because they’re left-handed and might be amenable to a short-term deal.

2. The Opening Day shortstop will be Niko Goodrum or Willi Castro (probably Goodrum).

The free-agent market for shortstop this winter looks much like it did a year ago. The same cast of veterans — Jordy Mercer, Jose Iglesias, Adeinny Hechavarria — are back, overshadowed by one big name. (It was Manny Machado a year ago; it’s Didi Gregorius this year).

Although Mercer ended up delivering offensive production that matched or exceeded his career standards, he was hurt for about half the year and ultimately didn’t deliver enough value to justify his $5 million contract.

So the Tigers are likely to keep things in-house in 2020. Castro, only 22, got a 30-game audition in September. While he didn’t look overmatched, he didn’t exactly seize the job, either.

Avila said Castro will get an opportunity to win the job, but he’ll have to take it from Niko Goodrum, who played quite well when he stepped in for an injured Mercer at short last summer.

2. Who will start at second?

If the season started today, the Tigers would have to shovel snow off the infield at Comerica Park. They’d also have Harold Castro and Ronny Rodriguez at second base.

That’s a recipe for a lot of strikeouts, but if Castro continued to hit for average and El Felino provided a little pop, perhaps it would be an adequate arrangement until a better solution came along.

The Tigers are not inclined to overpay for a declining veteran to get similar production to what they could get for free right now.

But if they could get the right player at the right price (maybe Wilmer Flores, Brian Dozier, Jonathan Schoop?), this could be an affordable upgrade opportunity.

4. Who will manage at Triple-A Toledo?

We should have an answer for this question soon. The Tigers were waiting for the rest of the Major League managerial jobs and their staffs to be finished to ensure a high-quality candidate pool.

Why is the replacement for Doug Mientkiewicz so intriguing? Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire will be in the final year of his contract in 2020.

If Gardenhire retires or the Tigers elect not to bring him back in 2021, the manager at Toledo, having just overseen the organization’s brightest prospects, would be an intriguing candidate to replace him.

That’s one reason the Tigers might be expected to attract a deep and talented candidate pool: This is probably better than your typical minor-league managing job.

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Detroit — It looks different these days, the old neighborhood. The high rises from the Jeffries Housing Projects have made way for upscale townhomes, the old playground where Willie Horton hit some of his earliest prodigious home runs has been spruced up.

But some things never change.

“This is home,” Horton said Wednesday, the latest day in his honor. “If I go downtown five days a week, I stop by here four times.”

Horton, the Detroit legend and former Tigers great, was celebrated by the City of Detroit, which officially unveiled Willie Horton Drive at the intersection of Canfield Street and the John C. Lodge service drive.

Willie Horton Drive will be the secondary name of that portion of Canfield, the blue ceremonial street sign sitting atop the green primary one.

A steady rain fell as several speakers reflected on Horton’s life and legacy, but it couldn’t damper the spirit of the ceremony — beyond several rows of seating for dignitaries, a number of fans craned their necks to get a look at the hometown hero.

“It is truly fitting that we are able to recognize Willie right here in the neighborhood where he grew up,” said Christopher Ilitch, chairman and CEO of the Tigers whose late father Mike was very close to Horton. “It would’ve been wonderful if my Dad would’ve also been here today. He would’ve loved to celebrate this great honor.

“He was a big Willie Horton fan.”

And the feeling was plenty mutual.

“Your dad,” Horton said, turning to Christopher Ilitch, “I called him ‘The Boss,’ but he was more than a boss to me.”

Willie Horton, right, and wife Gloria check out the street sigh in his honor.
Willie Horton, right, and wife Gloria check out the street sigh in his honor. (Photo: Robin Buckson, Detroit News)

Ilitch and Detroit City Council president Brenda Jones, who sponsored the resolution to rename the street, spoke during the ceremony, which also was attended by Tigers general manager Al Avila, Tigers Hall-of-Fame pitcher Jack Morris, current Tigers left fielder Christin Stewart, Tigers play-by-play man Dan Dickerson, Detroit mayor Mike Duggan, former mayor Ken Cockrel, City Council member Scott Benson and Wayne County commissioner Jewel Ware, among other dignitaries.

While Horton is most remembered on the field for those throw in Game 5 of the World Series — a strike to home plate to get the speedy Lou Brock and turn the momentum of the series with the St. Louis Cardinals — Duggan recalled his own favorite memory, a game at Tiger Stadium in the summer of 1976.

It was Detroit’s Mark Fidrych, smack dab in the thick of “Bird Mania,” against Texas’ Gaylord Perry, the future Hall-of-Famer. Horton didn’t start, but he pinch-hit in the ninth inning and hit a walk-off home run into the seats in left field. The Tigers won, 4-3, and the ballpark went nuts.

“And the fans stayed in the stands chanting over and over, ‘We want Willie,’ ’til he came back out of the dugout,” said Duggan, who was 17 years old that summer. “And nobody stood and cheered louder and longer than I did, cuz I thought as a fan in the center-field bleachers in 1976 that was gonna be the only way I could ever say thank you to Willie Horton for all he meant to me.

“And so it’s an enormous honor to be here on Canfield to be able to thank him in a much more permanent way.”

Horton grew up in the rough-and-tumble neighborhood, one of 21 children to parents who both were killed in a New Year’s Day car accident in 1965 — before the start of Horton’s third year with his hometown Tigers.

Horton credits a lot of people for his upbringing and success — from his days starring at Detroit Northwestern, to 15 seasons with the Tigers — including his parents, and before and after they died, Judge Damon Keith, who became a father figure. Keith provided Horton the confidence he could be a baseball star, when Horton grew up thinking he would become a firefighter.

Keith died last month.

“Mother Keith and Judge Keith became my parents,” said Horton, adding Judge Keith liked to tell him, “Keep your ears open, your mouth shut and you’ll learn something.”

Horton, now 76 and relatively healthy after some scares in recent years, played 18 seasons in Major League Baseball, almost all of them with the Tigers. He hit 325 career home runs and had 1,163 RBIs, and was a key member of the 1968 World Series champions. He also was a central figure off the field, famously hopping atop a police car, in his Tigers uniform, to plead for peace during the 1967 riots.

The Tigers traded him to the Texas Rangers in 1977, and he played briefly with them, the Cleveland Indians, Oakland A’s, Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners before retiring after the 1980 season.

Christopher Ilitch chats with Willile Horton on Wednesday.
Christopher Ilitch chats with Willile Horton on Wednesday. (Photo: Robin Buckson, Detroit News)

It didn’t take him long to return home, and in 2000, Mike Ilitch made Horton’s No. 23 the only number to be retired by the franchise which didn’t belong to a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. There’s a statue, too. That’s how much Ilitch thought of Horton’s impact. In 2001, Horton joined the front office, and in 2002, he was named special assistant to the president, a role he continues today, alongside Al Kaline.

“Willie is truly my hero, and has been my hero for a long time,” Jones said. “Willie, I love you so much. This could not happen to a better person.”

Wednesday’s ceremony was just the latest in a long line of honors over the years for Horton, whose work in the community and with children is legendary in Detroit circles. He has his name on the softball diamonds at Detroit Northwestern, as well as on the field at the new Tiger Stadium, revitalized by the Detroit Police Athletic League. He was given the Spirit of Detroit Award in 2004 and The Order of Saint Maurice, the highest military honor given to civilians, in 2006.

Every Oct. 18, his birthday, is officially “Willie Horton Day” in the state of Michigan.

It’s been quite a life, to be sure, and one that got its start right there at the corner of Canfield and the Lodge, which may look different these days — but will always be home.

“It’s changed big time. I used to box right across the freeway,” Horton said, pointing across the Lodge, following the dedication ceremony, at which he was joined by wife Gloria, their children and several other family members. “I’m the youngest of 21 kids. I’ve got one sister left, and me. And I had an opportunity to tell each and every one of them before they left, how much they meant to Willie Horton and his life. They kept me out of bad traffic and drug free.

“I’m just proud to be here today.

“I never envisioned this.”

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The Detroit Tigers have a long history of great starting pitching that goes back more than a century, but with Jim Bunning and Hal Newhouser being the only Detroit pitchers to earn a spot in the Hall of Fame, it’s easy for the city to forget just how good its starting pitching has been.

Obviously in recent years, Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer have won Cy Young awards, while Jeremy Bonderman and Kenny Rogers helped pitched the Tigers to a pennant and Anibal Sanchez claimed an ERA title. Former Cy Young award winner David Price also pitched and won one of the biggest games in recent memory, the final game of the 2014 season, clinching the AL Central title.

Championship teams have had great pitching from Jack Morris and Dan Petry in 1984 to Denny McLain, Mickey Lolich and Earl Wilson in 1968. Going back even further, Newhouser teamed with Dizzy Trout and Virgil Trucks to form a pretty good trio known as “TNT.”

In 1935, the team had Tommy Bridges, Schoolboy Rowe, Elden Auker and General Crowder, who all won at least 16 games.

But perhaps the best staff in Detroit history was during the trio of pennants from 1907-1909, led by George Mullin, who was born in Toledo in 1880 and arrived n the scene in Detroit in 1902.

In 1909, Mullin went 29-8 on the mound with a win percentage of .784 and an ERA of 2.22 and three shutouts. He led the Tigers to their third consecutive pennant and a spot in the World Series against the Pittsburgh Pirates, where they lost in seven games. His 29 victories remained a franchise record until McLain topped it in ’68.

Mullin teamed with Ed Willett (21 wins, 2.34 ERA), Ed Summers (19 wins, 2.24 ERA) and Ed Killian (11 wins, 1.71 ERA) in ’09. Even Wild Bill Donovan chipped in with eight wins and a 2.31 ERA.

But it was Mullin who carried the load, leading the American League in wins and win percentage. It was his best season despite having several stellar campaigns for Detroit.

Mullin proved to be the ace in the World Series, too, going 2-1 with a 2.25 ERA against the Pirates. He completed all three games he started, including a shutout. Manager Hughie Jennings also used “Wabash George” in relief in one game during the series.

He won 21 games in 1905 and 1906 before leading the Tigers to three straight World Series appearances. He won 20, 17 and 29 games in those years. As the Tigers aimed for a fourth straight, Mullin had his last 20-win season with 21 wins in 1910.

In the first two World Series appearances in Tiger history, Mullin went 1-2. He lost both starts in 1907 against the Cubs despite a 2.12 ERA in the series. In the 1908 rematch, he went 1-0 with a masterpiece complete game with no earned runs allowed. It was Detroit’s only win of the series.

Mullin finished his career with a 228-196 record, 1,482 strikeouts and a 2.82 ERA. He is 15th on Detroit’s all-time list in wins above replacement with a career WAR of 47, which among Tiger pitchers, trails only Newhouser, Bridges, Trout and Lolich.

However, it didn’t start that spectacular for Mullin, who led the American League in walks in four of his first five years in the majors. But after walking more than 100 batters in five of his first six seasons, he only walked 100 in one other season.

As his walks went down, so did his ERA, remaining sub-3.00 for nine of his 12 seasons in Detroit.

Mullin’s last full season with Detroit was in 1912 when he pitched in the first game ever played at Navin Field, the Tigers brand-new ballpark on the corner of Michigan and Trumbull.

He won his final game for the Tigers in 1913, his 209th for the franchise. All these years later, Mullin’s total still ranks second in franchise history, trailing only Hooks Dauss, who replaced George as the team ace.

It has been 103 years since Mullin put on a Tiger uniform. But in more than a century of baseball in Detroit, few pitchers have been able to match Mullin’s ability and accomplishments both in the regular season and World Series.

Those first three Tiger pennants are remembered as the Cobb-Crawford years, but they deserve to also be remembered as the Mullin years.

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New Pirates general manager, Ben Cherington, has stated that he plans on upgrading the pitching rotation of the team. With that as a primary focus of the new regime, a primary free agent target should be right-handed starter, Rick Porcello.
Rick Porcello is no stranger to high expectations. The former 2007 first round selection by the Detroit Tigers, was highly touted out of high school and carried those expectations through the minor leagues. By 2009, Porcello was the youngest player in the American League, but that did not prevent then Tigers manager, Jim Leyland, from turning to Porcello to start the tie-breaking playoff game for Detroit his rookie year, as testament to his abilities and makeup as a starter.

Porcello would pitch well in the big moment, allowing two earned runs over 5 2⁄3 innings in a no-decision, in a game the Tigers would lose in extra innings to the Twins. Porcello would go on to finish third in the AL Rookie of the Year Award voting.

The right-hander would pitch through the 2014 season with the Tigers, accumulating a record of 76-63 with a 4.30 earned run average during that time. Follow the 2014 season, Porcello would be traded to the Boston Red Sox for Yoenis Cespedes, Alex Wilson and Gabe Speier.

Porcello would have an up-and-down career with Boston, seemingly finding success every-other-year, while pitching below average in the off years. The pinnacle of his time with Boston includes a Cy Young Award in the 2016 season. That season, he would win a league high 22 games, while posting an earned run average of 3.15 in 33 starts for the Red Sox.

In addition to having a Cy Young Award on his resume, Porcello also has a World Series ring, having won a championship with Boston in 2018. Given these major successes, one would be led to believe that Porcello should be one of the top commodities on the free agent market this offseason. However, the righty is coming off an abysmal year in Boston, which has significantly eroded his value.

This past season, Porcello went 14-12 with a 5.52 ERA and 1.39 WHIP, while striking out 143 batters. The 2019 performance was easily his worst in his professional career, so why should Pittsburgh make him a target? There are actually a number of positives that can be gleaned from the career stats of Porcello, that indicate that he would be a viable option for the Pirates.

While it is likely that he won’t pitch up to his 2016 Cy Young season levels again, Porcello can be an extremely valuable arm in the rotation. Despite some unsightly earned run averages at times, he isn’t typically the pitcher who doesn’t last in his starts. In fact, Porcello has thrown over 160 innings in 11 straight seasons, averaging 34 starts per year.

In addition to eating valuable innings, which helps preserve the bullpen, he pitches well enough to keep his team in the game, giving them the opportunity to win. This statement is supported by the fact that Porcello has averaged 15 wins per season throughout his 11 year career.

In addition to serving as a reliable source of innings and wins in the rotation, Porcello has always had the reputation of being a solid clubhouse guy and a charitable player in the community. These are strong traits to have from a veteran pitcher who could be utilized to mentor younger players.

Given the down season that Porcello just experienced, the likelihood is that he could be signed at a reasonable price, falling well within Pittsburgh’s price range. While he may very well decide to sign a 1-year deal, as an opportunity to have a rebound season and sign a more lucrative deal following next season, the Pirates should certainly be interested.

There is a solid chance that Porcello would experience a resurrection in statistics if he were to choose to move to the National League. Removing the designated hitter from the equation should allow Porcello to cut down on some of his earned run issues by virtue of having to face pitchers in the lineup on a regular basis.

The idea of signing a soon to be 31-year-old, former Cy Young Award winner, with playoff experience and a World Series ring on his resume, at a discounted rate, should be tantalizing for the Pirates. Given that Ben Cherington was the general manager of the Red Sox when the team traded for Porcello, he is likely on the new GM’s radar.

If that is the case, and the Pirates are able to land Porcello as a free agent signing, he should bolster the rotation of the Pirates, making it formidable, joining the likes of Chris Archer, Joe Musgrove, Trevor Williams and Mitch Keller. Therefore, Porcello should remain a top priority for Pittsburgh this offseason.

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As the Detroit Tigers offseason kicks off, take a look at who they could bring in for the 2020 season.
Last season the Detroit Tigers offseason moves were minimal but did not offer much for them due to injuries over the year.

Some of the names of players who were signed last year but will not be returning are Jordy Mercer, Tyson Ross, and Matt Moore. Josh Harrison was also signed, he was then injured and designated for assignment by the team. The Tigers need to make sure that this year’s additions will pan out, even as “rentals” on a rebuilding team.

The rentals are simply filling gaps with players in the minor leagues work their way into the big leagues. Sadly, the cold hard truth is that the Tigers will not sign Anthony Rendon and Stephen Strasburg, who are two of the biggest names on the free-agent market. With the Tigers being roughly two to three years out from the competition, this will be another painful offseason, but who should they target?

The way things stand now, the Tigers will need to sign someone to play first base since Miguel Cabrera has essentially assumed the role of Designated Hitter. With catchers, Jake Rogers and Grayson Greiner to be splitting time with this year’s version of Bobby Wilson, expect a veteran catcher signing. To round out the infield, they will most likely bring in at least one middle infielder who can play second base and shortstop.

On the rubber, the Tigers have Michael Fulmer making his return to the rotation this season, and Tyler Alexander currently slated for that fifth spot. It should not shock anyone for the Tigers to go out and sign two starting pitchers, one proven veteran (like Tyson Ross last year) and one who’s a gamble (like Matt Moore last year).

The bullpen suffered some hits when the Tigers outrighted players to kick off the offseason; this will be replenished by minor league signings or low-value big-league signings. In other words, do not expect the Tigers to be making a run at someone like Dellin Betances or Collin McHugh.

There are plenty of names on the market, with starting pitching being the most talent-filled over relievers, which thin out very fast. Something to note, specialists like Daniel Stumpf have decreased tenfold in value since baseball implemented the three batter minimum rule for the upcoming 2020 season.

The value in specialists has been reduced a bit because of this, but nonetheless, the starting pitching market is primed for the biggest signings. The following recommendations on who the Tigers should target only mention a few names, this Free Agent Tracker offers a better look at which players are available at every position besides the players mentioned beyond this point.

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Another week is almost in the books, and with it came a flurry of Detroit Tigers news that was a bit more than one would expect for this time of year. From general manager Al Avila’s remarks about next season to Anthony Fenech’s response, from Lou Whitaker to Justin Verlander, the stories are included in this Friday edition of our links. So let’s just jump right in.

Avila expects another ‘challenging’ year
Al Avila spoke to the press during the annual general manager meetings on Wednesday about his expectations for the 2020 season. The tricky part, according to the GM, is balancing incremental improvements with the “big picture” goals of the franchise.

Avila is loathe to relinquish any of his prospects at this point in the rebuild, which has a significant effect on how the trade market will shape out for the Tigers. As far as free agent acquisitions are concerned, the GM admitted that the team struck out last year, but also noted the volatility of low-cost veteran players.

All in all, Avila paints a picture that looks disappointingly similar to last season. Hopefully, the new hires will help make a difference and move the needle in the right direction next season and for the years to come.

New hires should speak for themselves
Speaking of new hires, Anthony Fenech at the Detroit Free Press called out the Tigers’ front office for engaging in generic rhetoric and buzzwords when announcing the fresh additions to the staff. However, the criticism ends there, as he goes on to note the moves were also “a breath of fresh air” from Avila, and he has high hopes for the likes of sports scientist Dr. Georgia Giblin and Driveline-certified pitching guru Dan Hubbs, along with the others.

At the end of the day, it appears that Fenech just wants the veneer of vernacular used by the team to be more transparent. The Tigers have made some promising moves this week, but it will take patience to see if they pan out.

The story of Lou Whitaker
Lou Whitaker’s hometown newspaper, the Martinsville Bulletin, has published a fantastic two-part piece series on the former Tigers second baseman, telling the story of his life as a ballplayer. In the first half, Sweet Lou gives credit to his baseball peers growing up, without whom he would have never been challenged the way he needed to be. The second part discusses his Hall of Fame candidacy, and he path he followed to get to today. It is a compelling piece of work that every Tigers fan should read.

Justin Verlander has finally won his second Cy Young Award after another dominant season and a World Series appearance with the Houston Astros. Many believe this should be Verlander’s fourth or even fifth trophy, and those many would be right.

After some rather questionable finishes for the award in past years — the Rick Porcello decision in 2016, in particular — Verlander was bestowed the honor against his equally-deserving teammate Gerrit Cole. While the media and fans haggle over the metrics, there is no strong argument against the final decision.

Many of the names and numbers associated with this achievement are astounding. The list of accomplishments seemingly stretches a mile long.

Evan Woodbery at MLive also came up with some interesting figures, putting Verlander in some very elite company.

While it is tough to see the greatest Tigers pitcher of this generation winning awards with another team, fans can still appreciate what the right-handed hurler has accomplished in his Hall of Fame-worthy career.

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The Tigers were Major League Baseball’s worst team in 2019, losing 114 games en route to the second worst finish in franchise history. But even though it was a painful season for the team and its fans, the outcome was understandable — perhaps even necessary — for an organization in the middle of a rebuild.

Those rebuilding efforts have helped the Tigers assemble one of baseball’s better farm systems. After claiming the No. 10 spot in MLB Pipeline’s preseason farm-system rankings, they jumped to No. 6 on the list in our August re-rank after a strong Draft and successful Trade Deadline.

Detroit’s youth movement is built around pitching, and as a result the system is teeming with upper-level arms who are on the verge of contributing in the big leagues. That group includes four former first-round picks in right-handers Casey Mize (2018), Alex Faedo (2017), Matt Manning (2016) and Beau Burrows (2015), trade acquisition Joey Wentz, and southpaw Tarik Skubal, one of the 2019’s top breakout prospects.

State of the System
Division Team
Some of the club’s better offensive prospects are nearing the Majors as well, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if players such as Isaac Paredes, Daz Cameron and Willi Castro were to receive auditions at some point in 2020. Riley Greene, the No. 5 overall pick in the 2019 Draft, and 2018 second-rounder Parker Meadows are potential impact hitters but are at least a few years away.

Meanwhile, Detroit’s track record in developing first-round picks bodes extremely well for 2020, when the club will make the No. 1 pick in the Draft for the second time in the past three years.


1) Casey Mize, RHP (No. 7 on Top 100)
2) Matt Manning, RHP (No. 27)
3) Riley Greene, OF (No. 46)
4) Tarik Skubal, LHP (No. 74)
5) Isaac Paredes, INF
Complete Top 30 list »


Isaac Paredes, INF: As one of the younger players in the Eastern League, the 20-year-old Paredes more than held his own, batting .282/.368/.416 with 13 homers, 23 doubles, 66 RBIs and nearly as many walks (57) as strikeouts (61) for Double-A Erie. He swung the bat particularly well down the stretch, too, producing a .321/.400/.466 line with seven homers, seven doubles and 33 RBIs over his final 50 games.

Tarik Skubal, LHP: Skubal, 23, emerged as one of the 2018 Draft’s biggest steals in his first full season while climbing to Double-A Erie, where he racked up 82 strikeouts in 42 1/3 innings behind double-digit strikeout performances in six of his nine starts. The ninth-rounder from Seattle University finished the year with a 2.42 ERA and 1.01 WHIP in 122 2/3 innings (24 starts) between two levels and ranked third in the Minors with 179 strikeouts. More »

Skubal on success in Minors
Jul 17th, 2019 · 1:02
Skubal on success in Minors

green up arrow Anthony Castro, RHP (No. 20): Though he was overshadowed by many of the other impressive arms in Erie’s rotation, Castro took a major step forward in 2019 in his first full Double-A campaign. An uptick in velocity had the 24-year-old running his fastball up to 98 mph, and, overall, he showed better feel for putting hitters away. He held hitters to a .207 clip and racked up 116 strikeouts over 102 1/3 innings, albeit while also issuing a career-high 65 walks.

red down arrow Franklin Perez, RHP (No. 6): The Tigers’ prized return from Houston in the August 2017 Justin Verlander trade, Perez has totaled just 27 innings in Detroit’s system while battling myriad injuries. Specifically, the balky right shoulder that prematurely ended Perez’s 2018 campaign also cost him most of ’19, limiting him to just two starts in the Florida State League. The good news is that Perez is only entering his age-22 season, and therefore has time on his side to make a healthy return and get back on track with his development.


Draft: Riley Greene, OF, 1st round (No. 3 on Top 30); Nick Quintana, 3B, 2nd round (No. 16); Andre Lipcius, 3B, 3rd round (No. 24); Ryan Kreidler, 3B, 4th round; Bryant Packard, OF, 5th round (No. 26); Cooper Johnson, C, 6th round; Zack Hess, RHP, 7th round Complete Draft list »
International: Roberto Campos, OF (No. 25); Manuel Sequera, SS; Abelado Lopez, OF
Trade: Joey Wentz, LHP (No. 10; from Braves); Travis Demeritte, OF/IF (from Braves); Paul Richan, RHP (No. 19; from Cubs); Troy Stokes Jr., OF (No. 29; from Brewers); Alex Lange, RHP (No. 30; from Cubs)

After four straight pitcher-heavy Drafts, the Tigers shifted their focus to hitters in 2019 and selected one with their first six picks. Greene has the ceiling of a franchise-caliber player but will need time to develop as a high school pick, and the Tigers injected a wave of quality depth into their system by selecting college players with the next five picks. Campos, another teenager with power potential, received a $2.85 million bonus as the team’s top international addition, while Seguera and Lopez both signed for at least $700,000. Lastly, the decision to trade both Nicholas Castellanos and Shane Greene at the Deadline netted Detroit four Top 30 prospects along with Demeritte, who appeared in 48 big league games down the stretch.

Top 100 re-rank: Riley Greene
Jul 25th, 2019 · 0:28
Top 100 re-rank: Riley Greene

Casey Mize, RHP: Mize was as dominant as any hurler in the Minors during the first part of the season and fired a no-hitter in his Double-A Erie debut, but issues with his right shoulder landed the 2018 No. 1 overall pick on the injured list in June, and he was inconsistent upon returning before being shut down for the season in mid-August. As long as he’s healthy, Mize, with three plus pitches and exceptional feel for his craft, figures to spend most of 2020 in the Tigers’ rotation and will be among the more popular preseason picks for AL Rookie of the Year.

Mize ranks No. 2 on Top 100
Aug 4th, 2019 · 2:54
Mize ranks No. 2 on Top 100
Hit: Isaac Paredes
Power: Riley Greene
Run: Derek Hill
Arm: Sergio Alcantara
Field: Alcantara
Best athlete: Parker Meadows

Fastball: Casey Mize
Curveball: Matt Manning
Slider: Mize
Changeup: Mize (splitter)
Control: Mize


Draft: 15
International: 5
Trade: 10

Detroit’s system is loaded with homegrown talent, with Draft picks and international signees comprising two-thirds of the Tigers Top 30 Prospects list. Draft picks alone account for half of the list, and 13 players within that group are products of the Tigers’ 2016-19 Drafts. The rise and success of players such as Paredes and Castro reflect the Tigers’ international efforts, and the club has high hopes for both Campos and 20-year-old shortstop Wenceel Perez. The Verlander trade began to pay dividends for the club in 2019 with the arrival of catcher Jake Rogers, and Cameron appears poised to join him in the Majors at some point next season. In general, the Tigers have targeted both upper-level pitching depth and up-the-middle players in trades during their rebuild.


C: 1
2B: 1
3B: 3
SS: 4
OF: 8
RHP: 11
LHP: 2

While upper-level pitching depth is an obvious strength in Detroit’s system, it’s worth noting that 18 players on the club’s Top 30 list, and more specifically nine in the Top 11, will enter the 2020 season with previous experience at or above the Double-A level. That should give the Tigers’ everyday lineup a much different look as next season unfolds, as it’s only a matter of time until the team begins to reap the rewards of its developmental efforts by replacing the veterans on the current team with up-and-coming talents.

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The Detroit Tigers have claimed David McKay off of waivers from the Seattle Mariners organization. McKay is a 24-year-old right-handed pitcher.
The Detroit Tigers completed their 40-man roster today by claiming David McKay off of waivers from the Seattle Mariners organization. McKay is a 24-year-old right-handed pitcher who has made several appearances in the major leagues with Seattle.

McKay has solid numbers throughout the Seattle farm system. In the minor leagues, he is 18-11 with a 4.81 ERA and 276 strikeouts over 231.0 innings pitched. In Triple-A specifically, he was 3-1 with a 5.04 ERA and 71 strikeouts in 44.2 innings pitched. He doesn’t have a ton of major league experience, but he has pitched 7.0 innings with a 5.14 ERA and five strikeouts.

McKay is another young arm to add to Detroit’s farm system. He is being optioned to Triple-A Toledo by Detroit. It seems like McKay strikes out a lot of batters but he gives up a few too many runs to be at the major league level. If he is able to get his ERA down successfully, he might get the call to Detroit before the season is over.

This new acquisition will add to a number of great pitching prospects in Detroit’s farm system. Which one of these pitchers make it to the big leagues will depend on their ability. Casey Mize and Matt Manning will almost certainly be called up at some point, even if it is not this season. McKay will have to compete with them and others for a roster spot in Detroit.

The Tigers today have claimed RHP David McKay off waivers from Seattle and he has been optioned to Triple A Toledo.

The Tigers 40-man roster is now at 40.

RELATED STORY: Check out how Detroit’s farm system ranks among others
With the 2019 season being an utter disappointment, it is good to see the Detroit Tigers going after young talent. The rebuild is in full swing, and it will be exciting to see new players getting the call to the bigs to help the team succeed in the future. David McKay may be able to do just that if he is successful.

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After more than seven years of ups and downs in the Detroit Tigers system, Drew VerHagen is trying his luck overseas.

The Tigers released VerHagen on Monday so that he could sign a contract with the Nippon Ham Fighters of the Japan Pacific League.

In a related move, the Tigers acquired Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander Dario Agrazal for cash considerations.

VerHagen, 29, was drafted by the Tigers in the fourth round in 2012 out of Vanderbilt University and made his Major League debut with the club in 2014.

He spent the next five seasons bouncing between the big-league club and Triple-A Toledo, working as both a starter and a reliever. VerHagen was designated for assignment and outrighted in each of the last two seasons, but he bounced back both times and found late-season success at the big-league level.

It was that late success that likely attracted international interest. VerHagen is reaching the age where pitchers typically try to cash in on international opportunities to get a guaranteed income that isn’t available to borderline big-leaguers.

Agrazal, a 24-year-old Panamanian, has spent his entire career in the Pirates system, making his big-league debut in 2019. He went 4-5 with a 4.91 in 15 appearances (14 starts), striking out 41 and walking 18 in 73 1/3 innings.

The Tigers have 39 players on their 40-man roster.

Left-handed pitchers: Tyler Alexander, Matthew Boyd, Matt Hall, Daniel Norris, Gregory Soto.

Right-handed pitchers: Dario Agrazal, Beau Burrows, Anthony Castro, Jose Cisnero, Marcus Diplan, Buck Farmer, Michael Fulmer, Kyle Funkhouser, Bryan Garcia, Joe Jimenez, David McKay, Franklin Perez, John Schreiber, Spencer Turnbull, Jordan Zimmermann.

Catchers: Grayson Greiner, Jake Rogers.

Infielders: Sergio Alcantara, Miguel Cabrera, Jeimer Candelario, Harold Castro, Willi Castro, Brandon Dixon, Niko Goodrum, Dawel Lugo, Isaac Paredes, Ronny Rodriguez.

Outfielders: Daz Cameron, Travis Demeritte, Derek Hill, JaCoby Jones, Victor Reyes, Christin Stewart, Troy Stokes Jr.