Tigers Offseason News: Will Rhymes, Five Other Players Agree To One-Year Contracts

Tracking the Detroit Tigers' offseason news and notes.

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Mariners are interested in Jeremy Bonderman

The Seattle Mariners have asked about the free agent right-hander, who has an offer from the Tigers

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Tigers Sign Will Rhymes, Five Other Players To One-Year Contracts

As the Detroit Tigers go into their first full week of spring training, the team has agreed to one-year contracts with six players for the 2011 season.

Of the six, second baseman Will Rhymes is the one who saw the most action with the Tigers last year. He hit .304/.350/.414 with one home run and 19 RBIs in 213 plate appearances after being called up from Triple-A Toledo in late July. Rhymes also provided solid defense in the field.

Pitcher Robbie Weinhardt also joined the major league club in July before being sent back down to Toledo in mid-August. He was called back up in September and stuck around for the rest of the season. In 28 appearances, Weinhardt compiled a 2-2 record and 6.14 ERA with 21 strikeouts in 29 1/3 innings.

Left-handed relievers Daniel Schlereth and Brad Thomas also agreed to terms with the Tigers, along with starting pitcher Andy Oliver and infielder Cale Iorg.

Schlereth and Thomas are expected to win jobs in Detroit’s bullpen to begin the season, as the team needs lefty relievers with Phil Coke moving to the starting rotation. Oliver could be a midseason call-up, depending on his performance in the minors and what the Tigers need.

Iorg was once considered a top shortstop prospect, but poor hitting (.215/.251/.347 between Double-A Erie and Toledo last year) has stunted his development. However, the Tigers must think enough of his future (and their thin depth among infield prospects) to keep him on the 40-man roster.

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Tigers Agree To One-Year Contracts With Phil Coke, Seven Other Players

We’re a few days behind on this news, but when eight players agree to contract terms with the Detroit Tigers, it’s still probably worth noting.

Let’s begin with Phil Coke, the one player among the eight who is assured a spot on the active major league roster in 2011. Coke, 28, is one of the more intriguing players for the Tigers as they head into Spring Training, as he’ll be moving from the bullpen to the starting rotation.

As a reliever last season, Coke was probably Detroit’s best man out of the bullpen. The left-hander pitched in 74 games, compiling a 7-5 record, 3.76 ERA, and 53 strikeouts in 64 2/3 innings. He’s expected to fill the fourth spot in the Tigers’ starting rotation, providing a left-hander that Detroit didn’t have among its starters for most of last season.

Coke’s contract is believed to be for $425,000, the same amount he made last year. He’s eligible for arbitration in 2012, however, and if he’s able to pitch successfully as a starter this season, a hefty boost in salary seems likely.

First baseman-outfielder Ryan Strieby, infielder Audy Ciriaco, left-handers Charlie Furbush and Duane Below, and right-handers Brayan Villareal, Lester Oliveros and Jose Ortega are the seven other players who signed. All are minor-league prospects. Among those seven, Strieby and Furbush are the ones most likely to see the majors next season, or maybe even some time this year.

Strieby has dealt with hand and wrist injuries over the past two seasons, but the Tigers like his power bat enough to move him to left field so he might eventually have a place in the major-league lineup. Last season, Strieby hit 10 home runs and 49 RBIs in 325 plate appearances with Triple-A Toledo.

Furbush pitched at Single-A Lakeland and Double-A Erie last season before finishing the year with the Mud Hens. The left-hander compiled a 3-4 record and 6.29 ERA in nine starts, with 37 strikeouts in 48 2/3 innings.

No financial details on any of the other seven contracts were released. The deals are major-league contracts, however, meaning they won’t take effect unless the player sees time in Detroit this season. (Salaries would then be prorated.)

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It's Official: Tigers Trade Armando Galarraga To Diamondbacks For Two Minor League Pitchers

Earlier Monday, Brian posted the outline of a trade between the Detroit Tigers and Arizona Diamondbacks involving Armando Galarraga. All that had to be worked out were the final details. The deal is now official, as announced by the Tigers on Twitter.

Via Jason Beck on Tigers.com:

“I talked with Armando earlier today and thanked him,” Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said on a Monday afternoon conference call, "and he was very thankful of everything from the organization. I told him it was a good opportunity for him. Arizona was very aggressive in trying to get him, and he has a great chance of making their rotation.

“It’s really the best-case scenario for all involved. We’re happy for him that it’s worked out, and we were able to get a couple prospects in return.”

In exchange for Galarraga, Detroit gets two minor league pitchers. As posted earlier, one of them is 20-year-old right-hander Kevin Eichhorn. The other prospect is 23-year-old left-hander Ryan Robowski.

Last season, Eichhorn moved from Rookie League to high Single-A, pitching in 15 starts altogether. Overall, he finished with a 5-6 record and 5.00 ERA with 81 strikeouts in 86 1/3 innings.

Robowski appeared in 35 games for Single-A Visalia last year. compiling a 2-4 record, 5.17 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 54 innings.

Mark Anderson of TigsTown.com posted his thoughts on Eichhorn and Robowski on Twitter, classifying both pitchers as fringe prospects that currently project as relievers in the major leagues.

Galarraga ends his Tigers career with a 23-26 record and 4.58 ERA in 78 starts (87 appearances) over three seasons.

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Report: Tigers and Armando Galarraga Agree On One-Year Contract [UPDATED]

It appeared as if the Detroit Tigers and Armando Galarraga might take negotiations on a new contract right up until an arbitration hearing. The two sides were scheduled to exchange salary figures on Tuesday, and most indications were that Galarraga might seek a significant raise. But he probably lost some negotiating leverage when the team signed Brad Penny last week.

Detroit hasn’t gone to arbitration with a player since Dave Dombrowski took over as team president in 2002, however. And it looks like that streak is going to hold. SI.com’s Jon Heyman reported via Twitter that the Tigers and Galarraga have reached agreement on a one-year contract worth $2.3 million.

Last season, Galarraga finished with a 4-9 record and 4.49 ERA. But coming within one out of pitching a perfect game, only to be robbed of the achievement on a blown call by umpire Jim Joyce, brought him national attention. Galarraga was especially celebrated for the compassion and sportsmanship he demonstrated toward Joyce in light of what happened.

But he still had an inconsistent season, as his final numbers illustrate. One month later, Galarraga was even sent down to the minor leagues. The demotion was a temporary one, as the Tigers needed to shuffle their starting rotation. But if Galarraga had pitched better, such a move wouldn’t have even been considered.

Right now, Galarraga looks like the odd man out of the starting rotation. Penny was signed to be the fifth starter, and Phil Coke is expected to hold down the fourth spot. Those roles could change depending on how everyone pitches in Spring Training, of course.

Some, such as the Detroit News’ Lynn Henning, believes the pitching surplus could lead to a trade. But does a team ever make it through the season using only five starting pitchers? Galarraga could begin the season in the bullpen, and that depth could be useful if and when injuries and fatigue set in among the Tigers’ starters.

However, the Tigers’ patience with Galarraga seems thin (especially from manager Jim Leyland). Even though this contract seems to be a vote of confidence, you get the feeling that Galarraga also could be on his last chance with this team if he can’t pull himself together this season.

UPDATE: MLB.com's Jason Beck has more information on Galarraga's contract. The $2.3 million is the same Jeremy Bonderman received when he was first eligible for arbitration in 2006.

Galarraga's contract is not guaranteed, so if he doesn't perform well in Spring Training, the Tigers could release him by March 15 and owe him approximately $380,000 (or 30 days' termination pay). If he was released by March 30, the Tigers would owe him about $569,000 (or 45 days' pay).

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Tigers Sign Joel Zumaya To One-Year Deal, Avoiding Arbitration

This surely isn’t the last time we’ll say it, but we’ll say it again, anyway: Dave Dombrowski does not do arbitration.

Since becoming the president and general manager of the Detroit Tigers in 2002, Dombrowski and the team have not gone to an arbitration hearing with an eligible player. The Tigers and the player have agreed to terms beforehand every single time.

Today was no exception, as pitcher Joel Zumaya agreed to a one-year contract with Detroit. The deal is for $1.4 million, approximately a $500,000 raise over what he made last season.

Before suffering a season-ending fracture in his right elbow, Zumaya was pitching well out of the bullpen. In 31 appearances, he posted a 2.58 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 38 1/3 innings. It was his best performance since his breakout rookie season in 2006.

Detroit already has the back end of their relief corps taken care of with Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde tabbed to pitch in late innings. That frees up Jim Leyland to use Zumaya in any necessary middle relief situation. What if the Tigers find themselves in a bases-loaded jam in the sixth inning and need a strikeout? Zumaya can come in for that.

Given Zumaya’s injury history, signing him to any sort of contract might seem like a risk. And there were some rumblings that the Tigers might not tender him a contract during the offseason. But when healthy, Zumaya can still be a dominant reliever. And if he recovers from his elbow injury and is able to pitch regularly, he provides the Tigers with a bullpen weapon that not many other teams have.

Of course, Zumaya is all about that “if.” He’s had his season cut short by injuries (finger, shoulder, elbow) in each of the past four years. A full season could lead to a big payday, however, as Zumaya is eligible for free agency this October.

Armando Galarraga becomes the Tigers’ remaining arbitration-eligible player.

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Tigers Ink Ryan Raburn To Two-Year Contract

The Tigers and Ryan Raburn have agreed to a two-year contract, keeping the outfielder from entering arbitration.

Raburn is coming off his best statistical season as a big-leaguer, batting .280 with 62 RBIs and 15 home runs last year. For his career, Raburn is a .274 hitter in 379 games.

Raburn’s signing pretty much sets the Tigers' outfield, which already includes Austin Jackson, Magglio Ordonez and Brennan Boesch.

UPDATE: Raburn's contract is worth $3.4 million, according to MLB.com's Jason Beck. He was eligible for arbitration for the first time this year, but Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski has never gone to a hearing with a player during his tenure in Detroit.

Two years is sort of a surprising length on a deal for Raburn, but he's currently the favorite to be the starting leftfielder and the Tigers must believe he can win the job. If he ends up doing so, that contract is going to be a good value for Detroit.

Armando Galarraga and Joel Zumaya are the Tigers' other arbitration-eligible players. Hearings would be scheduled between February 1 and 18.

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Tigers, Brad Penny Agree To One-Year Deal

Per Jason Beck, the Tigers have agreed to a one-year deal with Brad Penny pending a physical.

The Tigers would not comment on the specifics of the deal, but Beck suggested the FoxSports.com figure ($3 million) is accurate, plus incentives worth up to another $3 million.

Lost in all of this is that the signing officially ends the Jeremy Bonderman era in Detroit. There was a chance the Tigers would re-sign Bonderman, who pitched the last eight years in Detroit, but talks never progressed.

As we said in an earlier update, Penny will compete with Armando Galarraga for the fifth spot in the rotation, but is the clear front-runner.

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Report: Magglio Ordonez Re-Signs With Tigers For One Year, $10 Million

Free agent outfielder Magglio Ordonez has re-signed with the Detroit Tigers. According to SI.com’s Jon Heyman, Ordonez has agreed to a one-year contract worth $10 million.

Additionally, Heyman reports that Ordonez turned down two-year offers elsewhere to return to Detroit. Loyalty to Tigers owner Mike Ilitch was apparently a factor.

Ordonez was reportedly drawing interest from other teams throughout baseball. The Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers and Philadelphia Phillies all were mentioned as having interest in him over the past few weeks.

But such opportunities dwindled as those teams made other moves. The Red Sox had no need for Ordonez once they signed Carl Crawford. The Phillies spent their available payroll on Cliff Lee. And the Rangers’ preference all along has been to re-sign Vladimir Guerrero.

Even if those teams had interest in Ordonez, however, it was unlikely that he would receive regular playing time. Boston looked at him as a part-time leftfielder and designated hitter. Philadelphia presumably would’ve platooned him in right field (possibly with prospect Domonic Brown. And in Texas, he would’ve taken over Guerrero’s duties as the DH.

The Tigers were the only team offering playing time in the outfield and a regular place in the lineup. Jim Leyland will likely put him back in the No. 3 spot in front of Miguel Cabrera, where he’s batted for most of the past three seasons.

Agreeing to a one-year, $10 million contract is a bit of a surprise, perhaps. The Tigers declined the $15 million option for next year on his previous contract, so they obviously wanted to pay less than that. But on the open market, it seemed like he could fetch something in the $12 million per year range.

However, maybe there were still questions about Ordonez’s health and ability to stay healthy, coming off a broken ankle. Even after holding a workout for teams, maybe prospective suitors weren’t completely convinced. Not to mention that offers may have been lower, given that they didn’t see Ordonez as a full-time player. This gives him a chance to show he’s fully healthy and perhaps try the market again next year.

Before breaking his ankle last July, Ordonez was having a resurgent season for the Tigers. He batted .303/.378/.474 with 12 home runs and 59 RBIs in 365 plate appearances. 

Signing before January also seems to go against the usual Scott Boras tactics (creating a market, claiming mystery teams, etc.). When the offseason began, it was easy to imagine that Ordonez could take his free agency into February, as Johnny Damon and Bobby Abreu had over the past couple of years.

But maybe Boras and Ordonez saw a shrinking market and decided to take the best deal out there. And maybe Ordonez just wanted to return to Detroit, where he has a good relationship with the owner and is familiar with the clubhouse (which now has one more fellow Venezuelan in Victor Martinez).

Regardless, it’s a good signing for the Tigers. They needed a rightfielder and a right-handed bat in the lineup. Ordonez fit those needs all along, and he wanted to return to Detroit. This also buys some more time for the Tigers to find out if prospects such as Brennan Boesch and Casper Wells can further develop into full-time major league players.

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Alfredo Figaro Released By Tigers, Sold To Japanese Team

Tigers relief pitcher Alfredo Figaro was released after the team sold his contract to the Orix Buffaloes of the Japanese Baseball League. The move leaves the team with 39 players on their 40 man roster.

He was 10-6 in 23 starts last year in Triple-A Toledo, but once again struggled at the big league level, going 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA for the Tigers.

Figaro showed promise early in his Tigers career, but struggled lately and apparently didn’t fit into the team’s plans. Last season, he gave up at least one earned run in six of his eight appearances.

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Tigers Tender Contracts To Armando Galarraga And Joel Zumaya, But Not Zach Miner

As expected when the Detroit Tigers designated Zach Miner for assignment last week, the team officially announced that it will not tender him a contract for next season.

Miner missed all of last season after suffering an elbow injury that eventually required Tommy John surgery. For his career, he has a 25-20 record and 4.24 ERA in 157 appearances (35 starts) with Detroit.

The Tigers could still bring Miner back, however. It’s likely he would sign a minor-league deal and would try to make the team in Spring Training. Both sides say they want to reach a new agreement for next season.

Detroit did tender contracts to pitchers Armando Galarraga and Joel Zumaya.

There was some question as to what the Tigers would do with both pitchers. Galarraga will have "Super Two" status in arbitration, putting him in line for a raise in salary. However, as the current favorite for the fifth spot in the starting rotation, Detroit was likely to bring him back.

Zumaya, of course, has a rather full injury history over the past four seasons. He’s averaged only 27 appearances while battling problems with his shoulder, finger and elbow. But Zumaya is still one of the team’s best strikeout pitchers when healthy, something every bullpen needs. Had the Tigers let him go, another team surely would’ve picked him up.

Last season, Galarraga finished with a 4-9 record and 4.49 ERA. Zumaya compiled a 2.58 ERA, with 34 strikeouts in 38 1/3 innings.

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Report: Tigers Sign Victor Martinez To Four-Year, $50 Million Deal

For weeks, one of the worst-kept secrets in baseball is that the Detroit Tigers were pursuing Victor Martinez for the left-handed power bat (and catching help) desperately needed in their lineup. The secret is now officially out.

Reports out of Venezuela have the Tigers and Martinez reaching agreement on a four-year contract worth $50 million. Multiple outlets have since confirmed the reports, including Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal and Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com. Pending a physical, the deal could be officially announced on Friday or Saturday.

According to Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe, Detroit’s offer surpassed others from the Baltimore Orioles and Chicago White Sox. The Orioles offered Martinez a four-year, $48 million contract, while the White Sox put a three-year, $48 million offer on the table.

The White Sox’s bid offered more money per season, but the fourth year on a contract was apparently important to Martinez. That was also more than the Boston Red Sox were willing to offer to re-sign Martinez.

(UPDATE: WEEI.com reports that Boston did make a four-year offer, but for $42 million.)

Last season with Boston, Martinez batted .302/.351/.493 with 20 home runs and 79 RBIs. Where exactly he fits into the Tigers’ lineup now isn’t quite clear, but he’ll presumably bat behind Miguel Cabrera, providing Detroit’s biggest bat with some switch-hitting protection.

And though Martinez could be the Tigers’ primary catcher, he is more likely to be the designated hitter against right-handed pitching (with Alex Avila playing behind the plate). Against lefties, he’ll probably be the starting catcher. He also gives Jim Leyland a chance to give Cabrera an occasional rest in the field by filling in at first base, when needed.

Martinez batted fifth in 25 games with the Red Sox last season. But he hit third in 88 games. Detroit could use a No. 3 batter, as well, but it seems more likely that he was signed to prevent opposing teams from pitching around Cabrera.

And as Bless You Boys points out, the Tigers aren’t done with their offseason shopping. They need a corner outfielder, and whomever that is will probably end up in that No. 3 spot ahead of Cabrera. Though they didn’t offer arbitration to Magglio Ordonez, Detroit still wants to bring him back and it’s easy to see where he’d fit in right now.

By signing Martinez, who was a Type A free agent, the Tigers will have to give up their first-round draft pick (the No. 19 selection) to the Red Sox. That is, unless Detroit also signed Jayson Werth (another Type A free agent), in which case Boston would receive Detroit's second-rounder. But the Tigers may have made their biggest purchase already.

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Tigers Add Seven Players To 40-Man Roster

Since the 2010 season ended, the Detroit Tigers have been clearing spots on their 40-man roster. Following the official signing of Joaquin Benoit, the team made several moves to fill those openings on Friday.

• Reliever Fu-Te Ni was outrighted to Triple-A Toledo. The lefty had a promising rookie year in 2009 with a 2.61 ERA in 33 innings. But he regressed badly in 2010, allowing 19 runs, 19 walks and 27 hits in 23 innings. After being demoted in June, Ni posted a 7.50 ERA in 12 games with Toledo.

• Taking Ni’s spot on the roster is minor league reliever Alberto Alburquerque, who was signed to a major league contract. This year with the Rockies’ Double-A team, Alburquerque struck out 32 batters in 34 1/3 innings. (His 19 walks raise an eyebrow, however.) The Tigers apparently feel that’s the kind of arm worth taking a chance on.

• Shortstop Cale Iorg and pitcher Charlie Furbush had their contracts purchased from Triple-A Toledo.

Iorg was promoted to Toledo after spending most of the season with Double-A Erie. He’s been viewed by the organization as the shortstop of the future, especially because of his defense. Yet he’s struggled with hitting in his three full minor league seasons. Iorg has some power, as his 31 homers over the past three years demonstrate. But making contact is a big issue. Iorg hit a combined .215 this year.

Furbush is a promising left-hander with strikeout stuff, which makes you wonder if he could get a shot in the Tigers’ rotation at some point next year. This season, he compiled 183 strikeouts in 159 innings between Lakeland, Erie and Toledo.

• Pitchers Lester Oliveros, Brayan Villarreal, Duane Below and Jose Ortega had their contracts purchased from Double-A Erie.

Oliveros had the most saves in the Tigers’ minor leagues this season, with 23. He also struck out 60 batters in 44 1/3 innings, pitching with Lakeland and Erie.

Villareal finished with a 7-8 record and 3.55 ERA in 24 starts between Lakeland and Erie. He racked up 136 strikeouts (versus 39 walks) in 129 1/3 innings.

Below started 28 games with Erie, compiling a 7-12 record and 4.93 ERA, with 103 strikeouts in 126 innings. (He allowed 137 hits, though.) Ortega had 61 strikeouts in 68 1/3 innings over 43 appearances between West Michigan, Lakeland and Erie.

The Tigers’ 40-man roster
is currently full. More moves are likely to come, as they have to clear room for the other players they want to acquire this offseason.

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Report: Tigers Sign Reliever Joaquin Benoit To Three-Year Deal

If the Detroit Tigers were disappointed about losing out in the Dan Uggla derby, the front office didn’t sit around and sulk for too long.

Multiple outlets are reporting that Detroit has signed reliever Joaquin Benoit to a three-year deal worth $16.5 million. He could also earn an additional $1 million per season in incentives.

Benoit, 33, was one of the best set-up men in baseball this year for the Tampa Bay Rays, after missing all of the 2009 season recovering from surgery to repair a torn labrum. He compiled a 1.34 ERA in 63 appearances and struck out 75 batters in 60 1/3 innings. Benoit was also a Type B free agent, which means the Tigers do not have to give up a draft pick for signing him. (The Rays will receive a compensatory pick between the first and second rounds of next year’s draft for losing Benoit.)

The Tigers made it known before the season ended that they’d pursue free agent relievers to bolster their bullpen. Between Joel Zumaya’s injury, Ryan Perry’s development and Phil Coke’s planned move to the starting rotation, acquiring a top-notch set-up man in front of closer Jose Valverde was a key move of the offseason.

According to MLB Trade Rumors, Benoit's contract is the largest given to a non-closer since the White Sox signed Scott Linebrink to a three-year, $19 million deal in 2007.

UPDATE: Both Fox Sports' Jon Paul Morosi and ESPN Deportes' Enrique Rojas are confirming that the Tigers and Benoit have agreed on the previously reported contract. 

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Jhonny Peralta Agrees To Two-Year Deal With Tigers

Per Detroit Tigers MLB.com beat writer Jason Beck, the club is expected to announce a two-year, $11.25 million deal with Jhonny Peralta over the next few days.

The deal is worth slightly less than the two-year, $11.5 million deal third baseman Brandon Inge signed last month and includes a club option for a third year.

With Inge and Peralta both locked up for the next two seasons, the Tigers can focus on going after other free agents like Victor Martinez and Carl Crawford. Detroit has upwards of $60 million coming off the books in salary and should be key players for both.

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Tigers Trade Dlugach, Outright Bonine To Clear Spots On 40-Man Roster

With the end of the World Series comes the official start of baseball’s offseason, and the Detroit Tigers got that underway with a handful of roster moves on Thursday.

Shortstop Brent Dlugach looked like he could be a part of the mix at that position this season, but regressed with Triple-A Toledo (batting .258) and was never in consideration. The Tigers traded him to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations.

Also removed from the 40-man roster were pitchers Eddie Bonine and Jay Sborz, outfielder Jeff Frazier and catcher Max St. Pierre, all of whom were outrighted to Toledo. That makes them eligible for free agency. Bonine opted to become a free agent immediately, while the other three have until November 6 to decide.

Bonine was in the Tigers’ bullpen for the entire season, after bouncing between Detroit and Toledo the previous two years. He began the season as a dependable long reliever, compiling a 4-0 record and 2.81 record in the first half. After that, however, Bonine became extremely hittable. Opposing lineups batted 395 against him, while he posted a 7.52 ERA and gave up 47 hits in 26 1/3 innings.

St. Pierre was a nice story late in the season when he was finally called up to the majors after toiling in the minors for 14 years. He appeared in six games, notching two hits in nine at-bats.

Sborz looked like a reliever who could help the Tigers at some point, but his lone appearance in the majors was disastrous. In two-thirds of an inning against the Minnesota Twins in late June, he gave up five runs on three hits.

Frazier appeared in nine games with Detroit as an outfielder and designated hitter, compiling a .217 batting average.

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Brandon Inge's Two-Year Deal With Tigers Worth $11.5 Million

Financial details have been revealed on Brandon Inge’s new two-year contract with the Detroit Tigers. The guaranteed portion of the deal is worth $11.5 million. Inge will be paid $5.5 million in both 2011 and 2012.

The contract includes a club option for 2013 worth $6 million. If the Tigers don’t pick up the option, Inge will receive a $500,000 buyout.

Inge and general manager Dave Dombrowski held a press conference Thursday afternoon to announce the agreement. You can view the video at the FOX Sports Detroit website.

Here’s what Dombrowski said in his opening remarks:

“I think he exemplifies what you look for in a player. And for us to have him as part of our organization again, and to be in a spot where you can look forward to a lot of moves this wintertime for our club, to start here is a perfect place to start.”

And from Inge:

“I’ve been so excited every time I watch TV and I see a new guy that we’ve signed, and they come up here and put the new jersey on, and I get all excited to watch that happen. I think I’m more excited now to be able to keep my jersey on, as opposed to have to get another jersey. So I’m very excited to be here right now for the next two years… hopefully three.”

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Tigers Sign Brandon Inge To Two-Year Contract, With Option For 2013

Maybe the worst kept secret of the Detroit Tigers’ offseason plans was their intention to re-sign third baseman Brandon Inge.

As soon as the season ended, general manager Dave Dombrowski let it be known that the team put an offer to Inge on the table. (According to Jason Beck, negotiations began before the season ended.) And Inge, in turn, wanted to stay in the place he’s spent his entire 10-year major league career.

Now, it’s official. The Tigers announced on Thursday that they’ve signed Inge to a two-year contract with a club option for 2013. Financial terms of the deal still haven’t been made available, but we’ll post an update when that information is released.

(Inge was paid $6 million per season on his last contract. The guess is that figure will be less in this new deal.)

** UPDATE: Inge will get $11.5 million per Jason Beck, so marginally less.

For the Tigers, they’re bringing back a known commodity. Take issue with Inge’s batting average (and his prodigious strikeout numbers), but he is a 15-20 home run bat each season. And even if his skills are declining somewhat due to age and injury, Inge’s defense at third base is still among the best in the majors.

Could the Tigers have upgraded at the position? The free agent pickings at third base were thin. And some, such as FOXSports.com’s Jon Paul Morosi, believe that Adrian Beltre would not have been interested in hitting at Comerica Park. Even Inge himself said that the Tigers probably didn’t have a better option.

Add Inge’s involvement in the community, whether it’s his charitable contributions to the University of Michigan’s Mott Children’s Hospital or his desire to keep his family in Michigan until his kids finish school, and you have a player who is the face of the Tigers for many fans.

Check out Bless You Boys for more thoughts on the Inge signing and how Tigers fans feel about the move.

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