January 4th, 2012
Add another bit of speed infusion to the Tigers’ training camp. Detroit has signed second baseman/outfielder Eric Patterson to a minor-league contract with an invite to spring training. Matt Eddy of Baseball America first reported the deal on Twitter.
The Tigers will be the fifth organization in as many years for Patterson, who has bounced between the Padres, Red Sox, A’s and Cubs since 2008. But he has seen playing time in the big leagues at each stop, including 47 games and 103 plate appearances with the Padres last year.
At no point, however, has he been a big offensive option. Only once in that stretch has he hit better than .214 in the big leagues, and he batted .180 (16-for-89) for the Padres last year with two doubles, a triple, two homers and eight RBIs. He does, however, draw a good number of walks.
Patterson, who turns 29 in April, has been a stronger option at Triple-A, though he struggled there in limited time last year. He hit .307 with 29 doubles, 11 triples, 12 homers, 56 RBIs and 52 walks in 2009 for Triple-A Sacramento, good for an .870 OPS. He batted .253 for Triple-A Tucson last year in 51 games with 12 doubles, four triples, three homers and 14 RBIs.
The depth signing is an indication the Tigers are just about set at second base with Ramon Santiago and Ryan Raburn. They could still change course if something comes up, but right now that would be a surprise.
Though the Tigers have been linked in rumors with talks on Cubs right-hander Matt Garza, team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said Detroit has no trade talks ongoing on any starting pitchers.
And while Dombrowski won’t call any of his top prospects untouchable, a term he rarely uses on anybody, he had it clear they aren’t looking to deal Jacob Turner. That doesn’t mean Turner isn’t available for the right deal, but it indicates they aren’t going out and shopping him for a veteran starter.
At this point, Dombrowski said, the Tigers haven’t reversed course on their plans to go after a fifth starter to compete with prospects such as Turner, Drew Smyly and Andy Oliver.
“Our plan hasn’t changed,” Dombrowski said. “We’re in a situation where we really have been consistent all along. We like our young guys. We feel that one of them will step up and be our fifth starter. Somehow [our approach] has been mistaken.”
Dombrowski said the Tigers have not called about any starting pitchers on the trade market. Any conversations on veterans starters, he said, have been initiated by other club.
“We are not looking,” he said. “There are some guys that are out there and are very good and clubs haved called us about them. But we have four veteran starters, and sometimes you have to break in young pitching.”
They’ll still listen, he said, but they’re not looking. And the inquiries that have been made, he said, haven’t gone far.
“Probably the only guy we had serious conversations on was Gio Gonzalez,” he said, “and we just weren’t prepared to pay the price. Other than that, we really haven’t talked about a starting pitcher.”
Dombrowski also said Al Alburquerque’s recent elbow surgery won’t put them in the market for another reliever. They signed Octavio Dotel knowing that Alburquerque was dealing with off and on injuries. Dombrowski didn’t rule out re-signing Joel Zumaya if he accepts a minor-league contract, but that nothing has changed on that front either.