The Tigers kicked off their spring schedule this week with a 4-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates in Lakeland, and while there will be lots of names that fans may not heard of, here are the newest members of the Tigers that we’re acquired via free agency or trades that we all should get to know.
Mark Lowe, RP – Signed a 2-year deal for $5.5 a year and will be a setup guy and was a righty reliever who pitched in Seattle before being traded to Toronto last season. Lowe is entering his age 33 season and was lights out in Seattle, with a 1.00 ERA and 1.167 WHIP in 34 appearances before the trade. In Toronto, he was more pedestrian with a 3.79 ERA, but 0.842 WHIP in 15 appearances. Lowe finished 2015 witha 10 k per 9 ratio and a 5.08 k to walk rate. For his career, Mark is 9-24 with a 3.80 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP, and 8.1 K per 9 rate. Last year was his first with an ERA under 3 since his rookie year in 2006.
Mike Pelfrey, SP – Pelfrey was signed to a 2-year $16m deal in early December and is entering his age 32 season. Mike is expected to be the 4th starter in the rotation, however has had a hard time staying healthy in back-to-back seasons (last time 2010/2011). Last year, Pelfrey was 6-11 with a 4.26 ERA in 30 starts for the Twins. He threw 164.2 innings, struck out just 86, and only walked 45. Pelfrey has never been a big strike out guy, as he’s average just 5.1 per 9 innings over his career, and walks about 3.2 per 9. His WHIP is back of the rotation material with a career 1.482, so he’ll be near the top of the league in hits allowed. Click to read more on Pelfrey from Sons of ’84
Francisco Rodriguez, CP – K-Rod was GM Al Avila’s first trade and was picked up for prospect Javier Betancourt and a Player To Be Named. Frankie has a $7.5m salary this season and the Tigers have an option for $6m next season. In 2015, K-Rod was 1-3 with a 2.21 ERA, 0.860 WHIP, collected 38 saves, made 55 appearances, and allowed 38 hits, 6 of which were home runs, and walked just 11, while striking out 62. That’s a 6.0 hits per 9 rate, 1.7 walks per 9, and 9.8 k’s per 9. Click to read more from Sons of ’84 on K-Rod
Justin Wilson, RP – Wilson was another trade by Avila in a busy December that added a nice left handed option out of the pen for manager Brad Ausmus. Wilson was acquired for prospect Luis Cessa and Chad Green and is under team control for 3 more years. Justin appeared in 74 games in 2015, throwing 61 innings, where his ERA was 3.10, with a 1.131 WHIP, and avreaging 9.7 K’s per 9. Oddly enough, lefties actually hit better off of Wilson in 2015 with a .235 batting average vs. right-handers who hit .216. It should be noted however, that the 3 home runs that he gave up were against right handed hitters. Click to read more about Justin Wilson from Sons of ’84
Jordan Zimmermann, SP – What looked to be the major free agent signing of the off season for Detroit, Zimmermann was signed early in the free-agency season for 5-years and $110m. Zimmermann will slot in behind Justin Verlander as the #2 starter in the rotation and could potentially be the ace. Jordan is coming off a down season in 2016 and did have some indicators that were concerning. To read more on Zimmerman from Sons of ’84, click here
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C – Salty looks to be the Tigers back up catcher in 2016, which means Detroit most likely need to trade Bryan Holladay who is out of options. Jarrod is entering his age 31 season and his 10th year in the Major’s. Salty was considered a top 100 prospect early in his career but never got the change with Atlanta really and was traded to Texas as part of the Mark Teixeira trade in 2007. Salty can start if needed but his bat has fallen off in recent years. He split time between Miami and Arizona in 2015, where he hit .225 in 79 games, with 9 homers, and 15 doubles in 227 plate appearances; he also struck put 69 times. Jarrod signed a 1-year deal with Detroit for $507,500.
Mike Aviles, MI – Aviles was a quiet signing in December and is under contract for 2016 at $2m. Mike will act as a nice veteran super utility player who can step in at any infield spot and in left field when needed. Now in his age 35 season, Aviles bat is starting to slip (.231 average in 2015) and can supply a little power (15 extra base hits in 317 PA), however if needed long term, Detroit may need to look elsewhere.
Cameron Maybin, OF – Maybin was acquired via trade in late November from Atlanta for Ian Krol and Gabe Spier and returns to a Tigers team where he was once the #1 prospect. Maybin is under contract this year at $6m ($8m acutual, with $2m covered by ATL), with Detroit carrying a team option for next year at $9m or a $1m buyout. Maybin is expected to platoon with Anthony Gose in centerfield this season. To read more about Maybin from Sons of ’84, click here
Justin Upton, OF – The team looked set for the start of spring until Mr. I stepped in and demanded an upgrade in left field, Upton is signed to a 6-year $132.75m contract and the rest is history. Justin played 150 games for San Diego last season, in what is one of the best pitchers parks in the league and still put up 26 homers (15 at home) and 81 RBI for a underachieving team. Besides power, Upton does offer some speed where he could steal 15-20 bases a season. Click here to read more on Upton from Sons of ’84 and to also see how he stacks up against Yoenis Cespedes
Daniel Norris, SP – Acquired in the David Price trade in July, Norris is expected to step in as the 5th starter. Won his battle vs. Thyroid cancer and now looking to win against Major League hitters, keep an eye on his control (walks)
Michael Fulmer, SP/RP – Acquired in the Yoenis Cespedes trade, Fulmer is Detroit’s consensus #1 prospect and is expected to start the season in the minors. I would find it very intriguing however if Detroit brought him north out of the bullpen
Matt Boyd, SP – Also acquired in the David Price trade, the lefty has quite a bit to work on, however will be watched carefully by Detroit as an option as a starter in case of injury