Tigers cut loose Santos, Thomas
The Tigers cleared space on their 40-man roster and added to their free-agent list on Monday by outrighting the contracts of catcher Omir Santos and reliever Brad Thomas to Triple-A Toledo.
The procedural move essentially makes Toledo a stopover for them. They’ll become minor-league free agents later in the week, free to talk with any Major League team. While the Tigers could re-sign either of them, notably Santos, they’ll likely search for better opportunities elsewhere.
Santos essentially served his purpose as an insurance catcher, spending nearly the entire season at Toledo until he became Alex Avila’s backup down the stretch with Victor Martinez limited by a sprained knee. Santos appeared in 11 games as a Tiger, including single-game appearances in April and August, going 5-for-22 at the plate while throwing out one out of six would-be basestealers. He hit .245 with two homers and 16 RBIs in 49 games for the Mud Hens.
The Tigers are still expected to pursue a catcher to back up Avila and limit the wear and tear on Martinez’s knees to his duties as Detroit’s designated hitter. Though Santos could be that guy, Detroit might also look to somebody more established.
While Santos was a minor-league signing last winter, Thomas was a holdover from 2010, when the native Aussie came back to the big leagues to become the second lefty in Detroit’s bullpen as well as a two-time spot starter. He had none of that success this year, due mainly to injuries in his forearm and elbow that left him on the disabled list all summer.
Thomas, who turned 34 earlier this month, gave up 11 earned runs on 17 hits over 11 innings before forearm pain warming up in the bullpen in mid-May led to a DL stint. He spent close to a month on a rehab assignment in Toledo, giving up four runs on 10 hits over 10 1/3 innings with the Hens, when the Tigers tried to activate him and designate him for assignment.
Thomas complained of elbow trouble and requested a second opinion. Once the diagnosis came back, the roster move was rescinded, and Thomas spent the rest of the year on the disabled list.
Thomas would have been eligible for arbitration had the Tigers held onto him. Instead, he’ll likely look for another Minor League deal in the U.S. or head back to the Far East for another stint in Japan or Korea, where he spent time near the end of the last decade before the Tigers signed him after the 2009 season.