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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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That Ronnie Warner nearly made it to this year’s World Series as a third base coach for the St. Louis Cardinals — beaten in the National League Championship Series by Washington — begs the question.

Has there ever been Redlands participation in the Fall Classic?

Best anyone can attest to a local ballplayer being part of the World Series dates back to former Angels’ catcher Dan Whitmer, a Redlands High product, who was a Detroit coach.

Whitmer’s playing career concluded in the early 1980s, but somehow he attracted the attention of Detroit Tigers’ eventual Hall of Fame manager Sparky Anderson.

By 1984, Whitmer was bullpen catcher for the Tigers, a team that won 35 of their first 40 games en route to beating San Diego in the World Series. Whitmer wasn’t around for that hot start, though. He picked up his coaching job at mid-season, having started 1984 playing in Detroit’s minor league system.

Among Whitmer’s duties was warming up relief pitchers.

Willie Hernandez, a southpaw, had a monster year out of the Tigers’ bullpen. He was that year’s Cy Young Award winner, not to mention the American League’s MVP off a 9-3 record, 32 saves, 1.68 ERA, 140 innings over 80 relief appearances.

There was Whitmer, sitting in the Tigers’ ’pen, waiting for that call from Sparky to crank up his bullpen ace.

That’s one reason they won the World Series. Warner came close. Whitmer pulled off a ring.

While Warner, an infielder, never made it to the majors as a player, Whitmer’s brief appearances for both the Angels and Toronto totaled seven RBI and a .229 average.

­Ever since Rod Anzai left as a Redlands High School track/cross country coach, truthfully, there’s been a downward spiral in the distance-running success from that campus.

Hate to say it, but Anzai had some significant naysayers. Which relates to the fact that he’s now long since departed.

Too bad.

Anzai coached 800, 1600 and 3200 runners on those Lady Terrier 2014 and 2015 CIF, Division 2 track & field championships. He made his mark as a cross country coach for years.

Throw Lew Farwell into that coaching mix. He had plenty of connection — still does, in fact — with the sensational hurdler-sprinter-jumper Juanita Webster.

Anzai, now the cross country at Irvine Portola High — new school with no senior class — had his team is ranked No. 5 in CIF Division 3.

He spent one season at Banning, taking second in the 2018, eight-team Desert Valley League, for a longtime weak program.

There was some significant success at Moreno Valley Vista del Lago.

Anzai-coached teams racked up plenty of success at Redlands. Tough, tough guy. Believes strongly in a disciplined approach. It could’ve led to his undoing.

Anzai, now 79, sold his Redlands home, moved to Laguna Beach, not that far of a jump from his current Irvine coaching digs.

So much more to all those stories — amazing, in fact. Good stuff. Questionable stuff. You name it.

* * *

Recent interviews conducted:

Redlands High’s Doug Haugh, playing his red-shirt sophomore season at Valparaiso in Indiana.

Former REV cornerback Isaiah Armstrong, a BYU graduate this past spring, playing his final collegiate season at Northwestern Louisiana.

Armstrong, incidentally, went up against LSU, then ranked No. 2, earlier this season for NWL.

Look for their stories in coming weeks. Still waiting for something with Arizona State’s Claire Kovensky, a one-time Citrus Valley volleyballer. Hasn’t called back.

Wonder if ASU will take on Auburn next season? We’ll check. It could be that Kovensky and soon-to-be-graduated Jackie Barrett, who is Auburn-bound, will cross paths in college. * * * ­Lance Evbuomwan, a significant piece in Redlands East Valley High’s football past, also played basketball for the Wildcats. It’s that background that’ll carry him into this season as Arrowhead Christian Academy’s boys’ hoops coach. ACA’s Russ DeKock, incidentally, was on the lookout for a tennis coach to replace the departed Ronnie Griffin.

* * *

Maybe it’s time, noted a significant Redlands-area coach, that the trio of Redlands-based public high school shouldn’t all be participating in the traditionally significant Citrus Belt League.

Nothing official, especially since the 2020-21 school year will enter into a newly aligned league that ushers in Beaumont High and ushers out Rialto Carter — with Citrus Valley, Cajon, Redlands, Yucaipa and REV rounding out the six-school grouping.

Nothing — repeat, nothing — has even been discussed yet, at least officially. Truth is, athletics could be taking a serious dive in talent over various sports.

Looking ahead, here’s a fair head start for a six-team CBL: San Gorgonio, Fontana Kaiser, Citrus Valley, Yucaipa, Cajon and, well, name that sixth school. Beaumont has the numbers.

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If only it had been a vision.

Over the years, as I’ve gotten older and tried to reflect on my life and determine what things influenced me and helped make me who am I today, one year from my early youth resonates like no other.

It was 1968. I was almost a teenager living with my parents and an aunt in Grand Rapids, Michigan. My aunt happened to be my godmother. Her name was Gloria Jean, and she was an angel of a human being. She taught me all the great music of the 60s, gossiped about girls, and taught me how to be a better brother, nephew and human being.

She loved the old Paul Anka and Elvis Presley songs, but when the Beatles invaded America and were on the Ed Sullivan Show she shrieked and squealed in front of the television while my dad and grandfather muttered all sorts of epithets and insults about the long-haired hippies. The Beatles signaled a change in the type of music young people in America were listening to, and it was no different in our house. The Vietnam War and the politics of the 60s were everywhere. Things were changing, and so was our house and yours truly.

My aunt graduated from Grand Rapids Catholic Central high school in 1963, which meant she was poised to experience all of the turbulence, hatred, war and bigotry of those turbulent times, but she also knew to savor the wonder of the space race, Michigan summers, the Detroit Tigers winning a World Series, and watching her family grow. Her younger brother — my Uncle Johnny — graduated from high school in 1966. He got into a scrape with the law when he was in school and the judge gave him an option: go to jail or join the military. He joined the Navy.

That’s when the war and civil rights movement crept into my life for the first time. As 1967 turned into 1968, things were happening at breakneck speed in our household. My uncle had gone missing while patrolling the Mekong Delta in South Vietnam, and we feared for his life. Riots had rocked Detroit in 1967. National Guard troops were rolling down Woodward Avenue in tanks. It was a scary time.

I remember going to a baseball game with my parents at Tiger Stadium while up the road a mile or two away all hell was breaking loose with rioting, looting and murder everywhere. I was terrified. But oh, to follow the Tigers of 1968 was one of the great loves of our family’s life, and we decided we needed the Tigers more than Michigan needed us.

About the same time, I had the great fortune to meet Bob and Sonja Schultz. They had moved into our neighborhood just around the corner. Bob was two years older and Sonja was my age. My mom learned about our new neighbors, and immediately commanded me to go over and introduce myself and befriend our new neighbors. I didn’t think twice about it and made the introductions. Bob, Sonja and I are great friends to this day.

They were also the first black family to move into the suburbs of the very conservative, white, Christian-reformed community we lived in. I heard the neighbors complaining and getting angry, and I heard a few people use the N word. That was absolutely forbidden in our house, and my first fist fight involved wailing on Larry S. for calling Bob that. I noticed people did not use that word around me again. One small victory for mankind.

I was also (and still am) a voracious reader and would spend all sorts of time reading anything I could get my hands on after school. The Hardy Boys led to The Yearling which led to Uncle Tom’s Cabin. My tastes in literature instantly changed.

Meanwhile, the Vietnam War raged in our house and on television. We had not heard anything about my uncle’s whereabouts in weeks. Everywhere we went we crept around the house avoiding the giant elephant in the room: what if he is dead?

In early March, that all changed as Johnny came marching home. He was a changed man and nervous as a man can be. He slept in the same room with me when he first got back. Almost every night he would wake up screaming. It was terrifying to a 12-year old kid, but somehow I knew he had been to hell and back and found it in myself to accept it. Johnny and I are now great friends and he has a wonderful family. But it took 35 years for him to make peace with himself and where he had been.

One day in late March, my uncle and grandfather were watching the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite. He was my grandfather’s favorite, and we had watched him with awe as he helped us and the nation get through the Kennedy assassination in 1963. As we sat in the family living room that evening, Cronkite came on television and announced to the American nation that it was his experience that we were not going to win the Vietnam War. He said we were an honorable people, that we had done our duty, and now it was time to bring the troops home and to end war with peace with honor.

I looked over at my granddaddy and uncle and I was stunned by what I saw. There, in that living room, I saw both of them cry like babies. They were hugging each other, and my grandfather broke down while telling my uncle how happy he was to have his only son back. That was a change in his thinking, because before his only son had gone to fight in the southeast Asian war, he had been a big hawk. In fact, his brother, my great Uncle Charley, had been a big hero in World War I.

Lyndon Johnson announced shortly thereafter that he was not seeking reelection. “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost the nation,” LBJ supposedly said. The times indeed were a-changing.

A few days later, the guillotine fell again. I was lying on my parents’ bed reading when my Aunt charged in with tears streaming down her eyes: “They’ve just shot and killed Martin Luther King!”

We all huddled around the television and watched in horror as the sordid tale unfolded. I asked my mom if I could go over and visit Bob and Sonja and tell them how sorry I was. She hesitated, but let me go. When I got to the Schultz’s house, they were watching the news on TV. I saw Bob’s dad give me a real sour look, and it made me uneasy. But after a few minutes, the kids were laughing and talking about baseball and how awful everything was, but we didn’t know the reality. We were too young — but we were growing up real fast. Bob’s mother kissed me on the forehead and thanked me when I left. I remember that gesture to this day. They were kind and good people, and I miss them.

Well, a few months go by and I am about to get out of school for summer vacation and get ready to start junior high. My dad worked a fulltime day and night job to support his family, so my mom would let me stay up and watch the Late Show with Johnny Carson — especially on a non-school night. For some reason, on that particular night my mom went to bed a little early. My dad came home around one in the morning. He was tired and told me to go to bed because he was going to bed.

I disobeyed. I was watching some program when the news flash hit the screen: in Los Angeles, it happened again. There was another shooting. Robert F. Kennedy was dead. Now that one hit hard—I admired him. I walked into my parents’ bedroom and risked the wrath of my dad obliterating me by waking him up. I stuttered that Bobby had just been shot and killed, and once again our whole family sat on the couch watching the awful history of 1968 unfold in front of us. My dad walked to the door to let some air in, and somewhere out of the darkness we could hear a man screaming “What’s wrong with this country?!”

No one knew. Everything was changing. The music had changed from Yummy Yummy Yummy to Mrs. Robinson, Hey Jude, Dock of the Bay, Sunshine of your Love, and Jumping Jack Flash. The subject matter of the movies was also changing. The top movie of the year was about segregation. Rod Steiger won Best Actor for his performance alongside Sidney Poitier in the Oscar-winning film In the Heat of the Night. The thoughts and dreams of a 12-year-old boy were tempered in those months by a reality he could not understand. But he knew the world had changed, that he was changing, and there was no looking back.

Yet in all this chaos, there was the glory of putting a man in outer space and actually going to the moon. And there was profound joy at being a Boy of Summer: my Detroit Tigers beat the St. Louis Cardinals to win the 1968 World Serie in seven games. Names like Denny McLain, Al Kaline, Norm Cash, Willie Horton, Mickey Lolich and Bill Freehan rolled off my tongue with more statistics flying than even an MIT grad could understand.

So there, in this time of hate and violence, was a gift from God: the innocence of a boy listening to a baseball game on the radio with his parents sitting around talking about everything under the sun. The golden voice of Ernie Harwell reverberating across the airwaves will stay with me all the days of my life. They were the good ol’ days. They were the best days. They were the best of times.

How ironic then all this joy could be entangled with so much squalor? Only God knows those answers, but I would trade any of that right now for just one more chance to sit in that living room with my mom, my dad and my aunt Gloria.

They are all gone now, and I miss them so. But the one thing I take away from this darkness is that they loved me, they tried to do the best for me, and they gave me a legacy and example of decency to follow all the days of my life.

On days like today, when darkness comes to talk with me again, I relive those times and think of the family that loved me unconditionally. Some days I handle it better than others.

Today, the stone is at the bottom of the hill and I am alone.

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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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Hall of a class?

Hall, yes!

Shortstop Alan Trammell and right-handed pitcher Jack Morris will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., on Sunday, marking the first time two players have entered the Hall as Detroit Tigers in the same year. Trammell and Morris were etched into Tigers lore when they helped Detroit win the 1984 World Series, but it wasn’t until December that the Hall’s Modern Baseball Era Committee finally selected them for induction.

No harm. Trammell and Morris will become the 12th and 13th players inducted as Tigers and the first since Hal Newhouser in 1992. Here’s a look at the rest of the franchise’s inductees, along with other ex-Tigers players and coaches inducted with other teams:

Ty Cobb

Inducted: 1936 (inducted by Baseball Writers Association of America).

Position: Center field

Years with Detroit: 1905-1926

Years with other teams: Philadelphia A’s 1927-1928

Career stats: .366 average, 4,189 hits, 897 stolen bases, 3,034 games

Overview: The “Georgia Peach” was the arguably the greatest player in baseball history. In the first year of balloting for election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Cobb received the most votes of the first five inductees (including Babe Ruth).

Cobb won nine consecutive AL batting titles from 1907 to 1915, three more in his career, and hit .320 or better for 22 consecutive seasons, including over .400 three times. When he retired, he held 43 regular-season career records.

Mickey Cochrane

Inducted: 1947 (BBWAA)

Position: Catcher

Years with Detroit: 1934-37

Years with other teams: Philadelphia A’s 1925-1933

Career stats: .320 average, 1,652 hits, 119 home runs, 1,482 games

Overview: Known as “Black Mike” for his intense competitiveness, Cochrane played nine seasons with Philadelphia, leading the A’s to three pennants and two world championships, before he was sold to Detroit for $100,000 in 1934. As player/manager he led the Tigers to the AL pennant in his first two seasons and their first world championship in 1935. Fittingly, he scored the winning run to win the Series on Goose Goslin’s walk off single in Game 6. Cochrane, the AL MVP winner in ’28 and ’34, sadly had his career end at age 34 when in 1937 he was beaned at Yankee Stadium.

Sam Crawford

Inducted: 1957 (Veterans Committee)

Position: Right field

Years with Detroit: 1903-1917

Years with other teams: Cincinnati 1899-1902

Career stats: .309 avg., 2,961 hits, 97 HRs, 309 triples, 2,517 games

Overview: Although he played in the shadow of Ty Cobb, “Wahoo Sam” helped lead the Tigers to three consecutive AL pennants in 1907-09 in the dead ball era. Especially known for legging out triples, Crawford led the league in three baggers six times, home runs twice, runs batted in three times, and once each in runs and doubles. He still holds the major league mark for career triples with 309, 14 more than Cobb.

Charlie Gehringer

Inducted: 1949 (BBWAA*)

Position: Second base

Years (all with Detroit): 1924-1942

Stats: .320 avg., 2,839 hits, 184 HRs, 574 doubles, .976 fielding percentage, 2,323 games

Overview: Considered one of the greatest second basemen for fielding and hitting, “The Mechanical Man” helped lead the Tigers to three pennants (1934-35, 1940) and the 1935 World Championship when he hit .375 in the Series. Gehringer led all AL second baseman in fielding percentage and assists seven times, had seven seasons with more than 200 hits and played every inning of the first six All-Star games (’33-’38) as the starting second baseman for the AL while hitting .500. In 1937 he was the AL batting champion (.371) and was named the AL’s MVP.

*Inducted after a run-off vote, which occurs when no player on the initial ballot gets the requisite 75 percent of votes.

Hank Greenberg

Inducted: 1956 (BBWAA)

Position: First base

Years with Detroit: 1930, 1933-41, 1945-46

Years with other teams: Pittsburgh 1947

Career stats: .313 avg., 1,628 hits, 331 HRs, 1,274 RBIs, 1,394 games

Overview: As one of greatest sluggers of his era while leading Detroit to four pennants (1934-35, 1940, 1945) and two world championships (1935, 1945), “Hammerin’ Hank” led the AL in home runs three times, RBIs four times, and nearly broke Babe Ruth’s season home run record of 60 in 1938 when he hit 58. The five-time All Star and two-time AL MVP winner (1935, 1940) lost four years of his career while serving in WWII. Three months after returning to the Tigers, Greenberg’s signature moment occurred when on the last day of the 1945 season he hit a grand slam to win the pennant.

Harry Heilmann

Inducted: 1952 (BBWAA)

Position: Right field

Years with Detroit: 1914, 1916-29

Years with other teams: Cincinnati 1930, 1932

Career stats: .342 avg., 2,660 hits, 183 HRs, 1,543 RBIs, 2,147 games

Overview: Next to teammate Ty Cobb, “Slug” was the Tigers’ greatest hitter. Heilmann is one of only six AL players in history to win four or more batting titles and was the last Detroit player to hit over .400 (.403 in 1923). He has the highest lifetime batting average in AL history for a right-handed hitter (.342) and is only surpassed by Rogers Hornsby and Ed Delahanty among right-handed hitters in all of baseball. During his peak from 1921 to 1927, Heilmann compiled a .380 batting average and averaged 116 RBIs. He was also more than a baseball hero. On July 25, 1916, he saved a woman from drowning in the Detroit River.

Al Kaline

Inducted: 1980 (BBWAA)

Position: Right field

Years (all with Detroit): 1953-74

Stats: .297 avg., 399 HRs, 3,007 hits, 2,834 games

Overview: One of the best right fielders in baseball history, the 18-time All Star and 10-time Gold Glove winner was the greatest Tiger player in the last half of the 20th century. At age 20 in 1955, Kaline became the youngest player in AL history to win a batting title with a .340 average. The key moment of his career occurred in Game 5 of the 1968 World Series when, in storybook fashion, his clutch two-run single in the bottom of the seventh was the game-winning hit that extended the Series. In the Fall Classic he shined, batting .379 with two homers and eight RBIs.

George Kell

Inducted: 1983 (Veterans)

Position: Third base

Years with Detroit: 1946-52

Years with other teams: Philadelphia A’s 1943-46, Boston Red Sox 1952-54, Chicago White Sox 1954-56, Baltimore 1956-57

Career stats: .306 avg.; 2,054 hits, 1,795 games

Overview: Acquired in May of 1946 from the Philadelphia A’s for Barney McCosky, the 10-time All Star won the 1949 batting title (.343) on the last day of the season, beating out Boston’s Ted Williams by a few decimal points, and holds the record for the fewest strikeouts by a batting champion with 13. He twice led the AL in hits, in 1950 (218) and 1951 (191). For 37 seasons Kell was a popular Tiger broadcaster.

Heinie Manush

Inducted: 1964 (Veterans)

Position: Left field

Years with Detroit: 1923-27

Years with other teams: St. Louis Browns 1928-30, Washington Senators 1930-35, Boston Red Sox 1936, Brooklyn Dodgers 1937-38; Pittsburgh 1938-39

Career stats: .330 avg., 2,524 hits, 110 HRs, 2,008 games

Overview: In his rookie season with Detroit, Manush batted .334, and from 1923-1927 was a part of one of the greatest outfields in baseball history playing alongside fellow Hall of Famers Harry Heilmann and Ty Cobb. Manush won the 1926 batting title on the last day of the season by going 6 for 9 in a doubleheader to beat out the Yankees’ Babe Ruth and Tiger teammates Heilmann and Bob “Fats” Fothergill.

Jack Morris

Inducted: 2018 (Veterans)

Position: Pitcher

Years with Detroit: 1977-90

Years with other teams: Minnesota 1991, Toronto 1992-93, Cleveland 1994

Career stats: 254-186 record, 3.90 ERA, 2,478 strikeouts, 175 complete games, 549 games

Overview: The five-time All-Star and four-time World Champion (Detroit 1984; Minnesota 1991; Toronto 1992 and 1993) was the pitching ace for the Tigers for 12 seasons. His no-hitter on national television in April 1984 was part of the team’s amazing 35-5 start on the way to the world championship. He is best known for arguably the greatest single-game World Series pitching performance — Game 7 in 1991. Morris beat the Braves (who started Hall of Famer John Smoltz), 1-0, allowing seven hits in a 10-inning, complete-game performance and was named the Series MVP.

Hal Newhouser

Inducted: 1992 (Veterans)

Position: Pitcher

Years with Detroit: 1939-53

Years with other teams: Cleveland 1954-55

Career stats: 207-150 record, 3.06 ERA, 1,796 strikeouts, 212 complete games, 2,993 innings pitched

Overview: The teenage phenom from the Detroit sandlots was one of the most dominant pitchers in the major leagues during the 1940s. The seven-time All Star won back-to-back AL MVP awards in 1944 and 1945, leading the Tigers to a world championship in 1945 while winning the pitching triple crown by leading the league in victories (25), ERA (1.81) and strikeouts (212). In the World Series, “Prince Hal” won complete-game victories in Games 5 and 7.

Alan Trammell

Inducted: 2018 (Veterans)

Position: Shortstop

Years (all with Detroit): 1977-96

Career stats: .285 average, 2,365 hits, 185 HRs, 2,293 games

Overview: The six-time All-Star, four-time Gold Glove winner and the recipient of three Silver Slugger awards will forever be linked with second baseman Lou Whitaker as the duo formed the longest continuous double play combination in baseball history (19 years). Trammell earned the 1984 World Series MVP award after batting .450 with six RBIs, including two homers in Game 4, as the Tigers captured their fourth world championship. His best season was in 1987 when he helped Detroit to a division title, nearly winning the AL MVP award after hitting .343 with 28 homers and 105 RBIs.

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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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It’s understandable if you have never heard of Charlie Maxwell. A terrific player for the Detroit Tigers in the 1950s and ’60s, Maxwell’s peak was fairly short. This was largely due to circumstance, though. Maxwell had the misfortune of being stuck behind some of the greatest players of his day, and all-time. With the Boston Red Sox, Maxwell rode the bench as veterans Ted Williams and Dom DiMaggio put up MVP-caliber numbers. At the end of his career, Maxwell was supplanted by Tigers legends Al Kaline and Rocky Colavito. Even during his prime, Maxwell had to fend off Harvey Kuenn and Larry Doby for playing time.

He did, though. Maxwell was a rarity as a ballplayer: a power-hitter who rarely struck out. He fanned just 432 times in 3150 plate appearances in a Tigers uniform, and walked 394 times. He hit 133 home runs and drove in 435 RBI. His 19.2 fWAR rank 28th among position players in Tigers history, wedged between modern fan favorites Curtis Granderson and Carlos Guillen.

1950* 9 0 0 0 .000 .111 .000 .082 -72 -0.2
1951* 89 3 12 0 .188 .270 .313 .276 49 -0.4
1952* 18 0 0 0 .067 .222 .133 .194 2 -0.2
1954* 117 0 5 3 .250 .328 .308 .302 70 -0.3
1955** 126 7 18 0 .257 .315 .522 .366 120 1.0
1956 592 28 87 1 .326 .414 .534 .417 148 5.8
1957 580 24 82 3 .276 .377 .482 .378 132 4.9
1958 466 13 65 6 .272 .369 .426 .354 117 2.2
1959 611 31 95 0 .251 .357 .461 .363 122 3.1
1960 549 24 81 5 .237 .325 .440 .338 101 1.8
1961 153 5 18 0 .229 .333 .405 .327 92 0.4
1962*** 319 10 52 0 .271 .365 .440 .356 117 1.3
1963*** 165 3 17 0 .231 .370 .362 .330 111 0.4
1964*** 2 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 -100 0.0
Career 3796 148 532 18 .264 .360 .451 .360 117 19.9
*Played for the Boston Red Sox from 1950 to 1955.
**Played for the Baltimore Orioles from April 1955 to May 1955.
***Played for the Chicago White Sox from June 1962 to 1964.

Charles Richard Maxwell was born on April 8th, 1927 in Lawton, Michigan. A basketball and baseball star in high school, Charlie went on to pitch for Western Michigan University — a baseball powerhouse at the time — in 1945. He was drafted into the army at the tail end of World War II and served for two years. Following his military service, Maxwell signed with the Boston Red Sox. He spent three years in the minors, where he hit .321 with 41 home runs in just under 900 at-bats at Class B Roanoke.

Maxwell made his MLB debut in 1950, but did not impress. He only played in three games towards the end of the season and did not record a hit in nine plate appearances. However, he hit .320 with 25 home runs for the Birmingham Barons that year, earning him more playing time with the Red Sox in 1951. It did not go well, as Maxwell hit just .188/.270/.313 in 89 plate appearances.

With Ted Williams and Dom DiMaggio manning two of Boston’s three outfield spots, there were not many spare at-bats to go around, and Maxwell was the low man on the totem pole. Maxwell had just 233 plate appearances for the Red Sox from 1950 to 1954 (he did not even appear for the Red Sox in 1953), and hit a disappointing .203/.289/.285 in the sparse playing time. He showed promise in the minor leagues with an .893 OPS in over 1400 plate appearances from 1951 to 1953.

Top Tigers countdown #55: Vic Wertz
Rob Rogacki
Top Tigers countdown #57: Joe Coleman
Rob Rogacki
Maxwell finally got his break in 1955. The Red Sox sold him to the Baltimore Orioles before the season, who waived him after just four games. Maxwell’s hometown Tigers came calling, purchasing his contract in early May. He continued to split plate appearances, but the 28-year-old lefty hit .266/.325/.541 in 122 plate appearances. He finally got a full-time starting job in 1956 and put together an All-Star season opposite right fielder Al Kaline, hitting .326/.414/.534 with 28 home runs and 87 RBI in 592 plate appearances.

He finished a distant 23rd in the MVP voting (Kaline was third) in 1956, but Charlie quickly became a fan favorite. He earned the nickname “Paw Paw” after he and his wife, Ann, built a home in Paw Paw, Michigan. Maxwell’s size also probably played a role in his popularity. While Kaline was well-built at six-foot-one and 175 pounds, Maxwell, was generously listed at five feet, 11 inches tall. Maxwell had surprising power for his size, though. He led the Tigers in home runs on three separate occasions, and his 24 home runs in 1960 were second to Rocky Colavito’s 35 dingers.

Maxwell made a second All-Star team in 1957, hitting .276/.377/.482 with 24 home runs and 82 RBI. He did not start in either of his career All-Star appearances, and singled in his only plate appearance. His numbers dipped in 1958, but he bounced back with a career-high 31 home runs and 95 RBI in 1959. Maxwell hit four home runs in four consecutive plate appearances during a doubleheader on May 3rd, a pair of wins over the New York Yankees. Maxwell also walked and hit an RBI single. He drove in eight of the 12 runs the Tigers scored that day. Maxwell’s 31 home runs were a Tigers record for a left-handed hitter at the time, though it would be broken by Norm Cash two years later.

The 1960 season would be Maxwell’s last as a full-time player. He hit .237/.325/.440 with 24 home runs and 81 RBI in 549 plate appearances. His usual contact skills and plate discipline remained, but the aging Maxwell seemed to have lost a step. The Tigers traded for center fielder Billy Bruton prior to the 1961 season, leaving Maxwell to serve in a bench role. As he did in a similar role with the Red Sox earlier in his career, Maxwell struggled. He hit just .229 with a .738 OPS in 153 plate appearances. The team didn’t lose a step and won 101 games, a franchise record at the time.

Maxwell turned 35 as the 1962 season opened, and his days with the Tigers were all but over. Al Kaline and Rocky Colavito were mainstays in the Tigers’ outfield at that point, and Bruton hit well enough to support his superior defense in center field. Maxwell only saw 77 plate appearances before he was traded to the Chicago White Sox in late July, but he roared back with nine home runs and an .889 OPS for the Sox down the stretch.

It didn’t last, though. Maxwell hit .231 with a .731 OPS in 165 plate appearances the next season, and appeared to grow tired of the long travel involved in the MLB season. This was the reason he cited for his decision to retire shortly after the 1964 season began. He enjoyed a quiet retirement with his family in Paw Paw (naturally) and was inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame in 1997.

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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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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.

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The Tigers lost 114 games in 2019, most in the Majors and the second-most in franchise history. They remain committed to their rebuilding process, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have immediate needs to fill. is keeping track of every move the Tigers make this offseason as they prepare for 2020. Check back here for updates as the offseason continues.

The Tigers had the American League’s lowest OPS and scored 33 fewer runs than any other Major League team, a wide gap even for a team that played just 161 games. While their youth movement is built around pitching, the impact hitters they’ve drafted in recent years are at least a few years away. Detroit desperately needs a veteran run producer to help the entire club. The easiest fits are at first base or a corner outfield spot. Justin Smoak is among the free-agent sluggers that have been discussed.

Matthew Boyd, Jordan Zimmermann, Spencer Turnbull and Daniel Norris form the foundation of Detroit’s rotation until top prospects Matt Manning and Casey Mize arrive late in ‘20 or ‘21. Still, the Tigers want depth after injuries to Zimmermann and free-agent signings Tyson Ross and Matt Moore left them short-handed for much of last season’s first half. They would love to replicate the success they found a couple of years ago with Mike Fiers, whom they signed off a non-tender and traded to Oakland for prospects.

Other than closer Joe Jiménez and versatile setup man Buck Farmer, Detroit’s bullpen roles are wide open, especially from the left side after Blaine Hardy and Daniel Stumpf were cut. Young arms like Bryan Garcia, Gregory Soto and John Schreiber are expected to get their shot, but general manager Al Avila will look for more experienced arms to stabilize the group.

With John Hicks gone, the Tigers’ catching corps consists of top prospect Jake Rogers and second-year man Grayson Greiner. They have a combined 127 Major League games between them. A veteran backstop, at least for depth, would be a great help, especially a left-handed hitter. A reunion with Alex Avila has been speculated.

The Tigers hope Willi Castro is their shortstop for years to come, but they aren’t sure if he’s ready for a full-time role, or if he can stick at the position. That uncertainty could put Detroit back on the shortstop market, where Avila found Jordy Mercer on a one-year contract last offseason. Expect many familiar names from a year ago to be likely candidates.

Oct. 23: Nick Ramirez, Zac Reininger, Eduardo Jimenez, Dustin Peterson outrighted to Triple-A Toledo
All four players spent time with the Tigers this past season, led by Ramirez, who blossomed from a mop-up reliever when called up in May to a versatile lefty arm by season’s end. But with the Tigers needing to protect a bunch of prospects from December’s Rule 5 Draft, they decided to drop the 30-year-old. All four players became Minor League free agents after the World Series, and Detroit could pursue a reunion with Ramirez on a Minor League contract.

Oct. 24: Blaine Hardy, Daniel Stumpf, Victor Alcántara and John Hicks become free agents after being outrighted
The Tigers’ decision to part ways with the arbitration-eligible Hardy had been expected after an injury-plagued season that ended early with a flexor tendon strain in his left forearm. Hicks was also arbitration-eligible after posting a .620 OPS and 109 strikeouts in 333 plate appearances in a catcher/first baseman utility role. Stumpf’s struggles combined with the upcoming three-batter minimum rule change for relievers curtailed his future.