November 12th, 2010

Bonine agrees to minor league deal with Phillies

Three years after Chad Durbin went from Tigers swingman to finding a home in the Phillies bullpen, Eddie Bonine will try to do the same. The long reliever and occasional starter has agreed to a minor-league contract with a Spring Training invite, a source with knowledge of the negotiations told

Bonine became a free agent when the Tigers outrighted him last week, and interest built quickly, notably among National League teams. Detroit made a push within the last day or so to try to keep him, but they couldn’t match the Phillies offer in terms of money.

He’s the second reliever in as many days to leave the Tigers organization. The Astros signed Casey Fien to a minor-league deal yesterday.

Bonine went 4-1 with a 4.63 ERA in 47 appearances with the Tigers this year, his first full season in the big leagues. One of those appearances was a spot start; the rest were relief appearances. He struggled mightily down the stretch with a .395 opposing batting average and a 7.52 ERA, but there’s reason to believe in a rebound if he can improve his knuckleball and stay out of counts where he has to challenge hitters with his fastball. He’ll turn 30 next June.

As of now, Max St. Pierre is the lone Tiger among their minor-league free agents that Detroit has re-signed.

What this means for the long end of the Tigers bullpen isn’t yet clear, and probably won’t be until they get their rotation figured out. Brad Thomas is expected back, and there’s hope Zach Miner will be ready for the start of Spring Training after undergoing Tommy John surgery last May.