August 17th, 2009

Tigers sign Turner to major league deal

The Tigers appear to have pulled off a triple play just before the midnight deadline for signing their selections from June’s First-Year Player Draft.

While first-round selection Jacob Turner signed a Major League contract that includes a $4.7 million bonus, the Tigers also signed a familiar face in sixth-round selection Daniel Fields, agreeing to a minor league contract that includes a seven-figure bonus. In addition, the Tigers have reportedly signed second-round pick Andrew Oliver.

Add it all together, and the Tigers signed their top three players on their list of players who hadn’t yet signed entering the day. While the futures of other unsigned Tigers picks wasn’t yet known as of late Monday night, the trio of signings represents a major talent infusion for a club that has been aggressive in signing draft picks over the past six years.

The Tigers selected Turner with the ninth overall selection despite expectations that he would seek a large contract to convince him to bypass his commitment to pitch at the University of North Carolina. His situation had many similarities to that of another high-school pitcher the Tigers selected with their top pick two years ago, Rick Porcello.

Like Porcello, Turner was advised by agent Scott Boras, and his situation went into the final day or two before the mid-August deadline. Now, like Porcello, Turner will be joining the Tigers organization under a big league deal.

Beyond the bonus, the four-year contract includes guaranteed split salaries through 2013 that would pay as much as $2.15 million total if he reaches the Majors immediately, albeit unlikely, or as little as $800,000 if he spends the next four years in the Minors.

In addition, the deal includes club options for 2014 and 2015 at $1 million if he spends both years in the Majors, or $500,000 each in the Minors. If Turner is eligible for arbitration in any of those years, he can use that to override the options.

Tigers, Fields agree to deal

Daniel Fields is going to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a Tiger. Detroit’s sixth-round pick in June’s First-Year Player Draft agreed to a contract late Monday night.

Fields, the high school player of the year in the state of Michigan out of University of Detroit Jesuit, waited as long as he could to make the difficult choice between turning pro or accepting a full scholarship to play baseball at the University of Michigan. In the end, he chose the Tigers, the organization where his dad Bruce played for several years in the 1980s before a long career as a manager at West Michigan and Toledo, and eventually a hitting coach in Detroit.

Fields’ contract is believed to include a seven-figure bonus, around or close to the amount he was expected to be seeking. That is well above the slot recommendation for that round.

“It was a very tough decision,” Fields said Monday night, “because I’d fallen in love with Michigan ever since I went on my visit. It was a very tough decision. It was actually pretty hard calling coach [Rich] Maloney and telling him I wasn’t coming.”

The signing is huge for the Tigers, who took a chance in drafting Fields after other teams passed based on the expectation that he could almost surely go to school. Without those expectations, the athletic, multi-tooled shortstop would’ve been projected in the first couple rounds.

Fields is expected to report in the coming days to Lakeland, where he’ll work out before getting into some game action. He could get into some games at the end of the Gulf Coast League, which runs until the last week of August, but will definitely take part in the fall instructional league.

It has hit Fields, he said, that he’s going to play where his father came through the system years ago.

“It’s something I dreamed about doing, and then coming true,” Fields said. “I just can’t wait to get started.”

Fields said he does plan to attend college at some point.

Tigers still talking on draft picks

Looks like the Tigers are going to go right up to the deadline on their top unsigned picks from June’s First-Year Player Draft. They continue to negotiate with the agents for first-round pick Jacob Turner, second-rounder Andrew Oliver and sixth-rounder Daniel Fields, but while they appear to be making progress, and could be closer to a deal for Turner, there’s also the matter of the clock.

As mentioned earlier, all three underwent physicals this morning. They had to have those done if they were to have any deals finalized by tonight’s midnight deadline.

Follow-up on Huff trade

To go over some quick nuggets from the Huff press conference earlier:

Dombrowski confirmed the Tigers had interest in him for quite a while. However, he said they were not close to getting him prior to the July 31 nonwaiver deadline. It’s believed the asking price changed drastically from July to now, from number of prospects to ranking of them.

How is he going to be used? Good question. As I wrote in the article, the Tigers cited his capability to play 1B, 3B and LF. Obviously, he isn’t going to be the regular at first or third, and Guillen is currently rooted at DH until and unless he can play 3B or LF. And since they’re LH hitters, they’re pretty much going to be in the lineup on the same days. Could that leave LF? Wherever he plays, he will be in the lineup a lot, according to Dombrowski.

Where will he hit in the lineup? Not sure. If he hits third, the Tigers can keep going L-R-L-R-L-R through the top two-thirds of their order. Some of that, though, might depend on what position he plays and who he displaces.

The Tigers still have to announce their roster move to make room for Huff on the 25-man roster. However, Dombrowski confirmed, it will NOT involve Magglio Ordonez. With Magglio now less than 90 plate appearances away from having his $18 million contract option vest for next season, it appears the Tigers are willing to keep going with him now that he’s producing more than he had. Still obviously not at previous levels, but better than their other options at this point.

UPDATE: Almost forgot to mention that while Dombrowski didn’t eliminate the possibility of another deal, he said he doesn’t have anything else going on.

“I don’t have any other [deal] that I’m working on right now,” Dombrowski said. “But we still have six weeks to go in the season. We’re trying to do anything we can to win within reason. Mr. I has been very supportive of us. You can see we’ve picked up a significant amount of payroll since July 31 in a very tough economy. I don’t have anything else going on. I think we’ve addressed a lot of our needs. We have done quite a bit, but are we in a position where we’re done? I can’t answer that.”

Tigers get Aubrey Huff from O's

Just when you think Jacob Turner, Andrew Oliver and Daniel Fields are the big names for the Tigers today, up comes Aubrey Huff. The Tigers acquired the veteran hitter from the Orioles for Minor League pitcher Brett Jacobson. Will hear more details from the club in a conference call soon.

You might remember Jacobson as part of last year’s draft class of talented relief arms. The big right-hander was 1-3 with a 3.74 ERA and six saves for Class A Lakeland this year.

Turner, Oliver, Fields undergo physicals

The Tigers had their top three unsigned picks undergo physicals this morning, part of the process of getting a deal done before tonight’s midnight deadline. Daniel Fields, the Tigers’ sixth-round pick, said he went in for a physical for the club in Detroit this morning, along with first-rounder Jacob Turner and supplemental first-round pick Andrew Oliver. That doesn’t mean they’re all going to sign, but it means they’re still at least a decent shot and still talking. In other words, it sure isn’t a bad sign.

The Tigers have improved their offer to Fields, the outstanding prep shortstop from University of Detroit Jesuit High who must decide between turning pro now and accepting a scholarship to the University of Michigan. He’s being advised by SFX. Scott Boras is serving as the adviser for Turner and Oliver.

D-Train scratched from rehab start

Just found out from Tigers that Dontrelle Willis was pushed back from his rehab start tonight for Triple-A Toledo with soreness in his hip. He’ll instead start Wednesday for the Mud Hens at Columbus.

UPDATE @ 6pm: Ruddy Lugo will start in Willis’ place Monday night. Chris Lambert will make his Mud Hens return Tuesday.