Tigers unconditionally release Boesch
Three years after Brennan Boesch surged into the Tigers outfield mix with an incredible half-season in Detroit, his departure was just as sudden. The Tigers unconditionally released Boesch on Wednesday, parting ways with 2 1/2 weeks to go in Spring Training.
It was already clear to team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski that Boesch wasn’t going to win a job in left field, and they weren’t going to be able to work out a trade.
“As we’ve gone through this, Andy Dirks we feel has won the job to be our left fielder,” team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said. “And in Brennan’s case, we were really looking more for a right-handed hitting outfielder out there [to mix] in left field.”
By releasing him now, the Tigers will owe him one-sixth of his $2.3 million salary, or $383,333. Had they waited until the end of camp, they would’ve owed him one-fourth of his salary, or $575,000.
Boesch’s future with the team had been in question ever since the Tigers signed Torii Hunter in November. Detroit tendered the arbitration-eligible Boesch a contract during the offseason with the idea of letting him compete with Andy Dirks for the job in left field or trading him.
The chance of beating out Dirks was always a long shot, but it became longer once Boesch missed the first couple weeks of camp with an oblique strain. He returned last week and went 3-for-16 with a double and four strikeouts in seven Grapefruit League games.
The trade route, meanwhile, did not prove promising.
“I have tried to trade his contract at various times here throughout the spring, even leading into Spring Training, thinking that a change of scenery would be best for him,” Dombrowski said. “[We] have not been successful in doing that, have had numerous clubs talk to me about him, but I think you’ve reached the point where a lot of people talk about the salary aspect of it. Unless they really think he’s going to step in and be their guy, they haven’t been prepared to do anything in the trade market.”
Dombrowski said that “half a dozen clubs” had asked about Boesch, but no one stepped forward with serious interest.
Now, assuming no team claims his full contract on release waivers, Boesch will become a free agent. Any team can sign him for the Major League minimum, with the Tigers on the hook for their end.
By releasing him now, the Tigers also free up playing time in the outfield down the stretch this spring for regulars who need the work as well as viable candidates to make the club.
Boesch will turn 27 years old in April. He batted .259 with 42 home runs and 175 RBIs in 380 games over the last few years. His numbers last season were his lowest in most of the major categories, from a .240 batting average to a .659 OPS with 12 homers and 54 RBIs.