December 9th, 2011

Tigers trade Perry to Nats for Collin Balester

Hours after the Tigers’ signing of Octavio Dotel left Ryan Perry as a man without a role, he became a former Tiger. Detroit sent the former first-round pick to the Nationals Friday night in exchange for Collin Balester.

“Acquiring Collin Balester from the Nationals today adds another good arm to our organization,” team president/general manager Dombrowski said in a statement. “He has shown the ability to pitch multiple innings out of the bullpen in the past, a role we are looking for him to fill for our club in 2012.”

Perry was the centerpiece of a reliever-heavy Tigers draft in 2008, a hard-throwing right-hander who was the setup man of the future, if not a potential closer. But after he made the team out of camp the next spring, he never really found the consistency to hold down a role.

Dotel’s signing took away any chance Perry had for the seventh-inning role. He has down the long relief role before, but if the Tigers were going to sign a swing starter anyway, Perry was a man without a job.

Perry went 2-0 with a 5.35 ERA for Detroit this past season, allowing 39 hits over 37 innings with 21 walks and 24 strikeouts. His career stats in three seasons as a Tiger included a 5-6 record, 4.07 ERA, 82 walks and 129 strikeouts over 161 1/3 innings.

Balester went 1-4 with a 4.54 ERA for the Nationals this past season, striking out 34 batters over 35 2/3 innings. He went 2-1 with a 4.35 ERA at Triple-A Syracuse, with 46 strikeouts over 39 1/3 innings.

Perry was one minor league option remaining, so the Nationals don’t necessarily have to keep him on the big league roster out of camp. Balester is out of options.

Dotel: “I’m very happy I’ve got the record”

As you probably have heard by now, Octavio Dotel’s deal with the Tigers is now official, having passed his physical Friday. He’ll get a $3 million salary in 2012 with a $3.5 million club option for 2013 or a $500,000 buyout. There was some speculation about a vesting option, but the problem with middle relievers is figuring out a stat that could trigger it. Games pitched doesn’t necessarily signify a good year. So it’s a straight team option with a higher base salary for Dotel over this past season.

Had a very good phone interview with Dotel this afternoon as he was waiting for his flight home from Detroit Metro Airport. He said his decision came down to the Tigers and Brewers, with the Padres also pursuing him for a setup role.

“They were pretty close [in their offers],” Dotel said, “but the Tigers were more aggressive.”

Dotel confirmed that manager Jim Leyland called him Wednesday to explain the role the Tigers see for him. It centers around the seventh inning, but could include the sixth inning on some days depending on the matchup, or the eighth inning on days when setup man Joaquin Benoit or closer Jose Valverde are off for rest.

“I really appreciated that,” Dotel said. “I understand my role, and I really appreciate that they told me my role.”

Dotel said he has no problem with roles.

“I can do any job,” he said. “I can do [anything from] the sixth inning to the ninth inning. I’ve been through it before.”

In the end, it was more about the team than the role. He signed the last two offseasons with teams on the outside looking in on the playoff races, starting the 2009 season as the Pirates closer before opening the 2010 season as the Blue Jays setup man. Both times, he was traded at the July deadline. The Tigers had interest in signing him last year, he said.

He wanted to sign with a contender this time, and after previous interest, the Tigers made sense.

“The reason I came to Detroit is because of the chance [to win],” he said. “It was one of the teams that has more of a chance. I think after I had the chance to pitch in the playoffs [this fall with the Cardinals], I said, ‘This is where I want to be.’ …

“I do [feel happy] to be here. I really do, becuase the situation with Detroit, the players they have, the pitchers they have, the bullpen they have, they pretty much have everything. All we have to do is play the way we know we can, and we can win the division.”

Then there’s the record. All Dotel has to do is throw a pitch for the Tigers, and he’ll take over the mark for most Major League teams with 13, breaking out of a tie with Matt Stairs (remember him, he played two weeks with the Tigers in 2006) and Ron Villone.

“After being all over the place, that’s good,” he said. “I’m very happy I’ve got the record, and I hope to keep going.”