Tigers sign Gorzelanny to one-year deal (updated)

Long before the Tigers built their dream rotation, they tried to trade for a young lefty starter in Pittsburgh named Tom Gorzelanny. They’ve tried to trade for him at other times over the years as a reliever.

Years later, they’ve finally got him, and they’re hoping he can fill out their bullpen.

“He’s a guy that we look at as being our veteran left-hander in the bullpen,” team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said Tuesday after signing Gorzelanny to a one-year contract. “He’s a guy that’s got solid stuff with experience and knows how to get big-league hitters out.”

The guaranteed Major League deal — the first the Tigers have done for a free-agent lefty reliever since Dombrowski took over — includes a $1 million base salary plus incentives, according to industry sources.

At the same time, the low-risk, high-reward deal fits the Tigers profile for such a role. Like Joba Chamberlain a year ago, the Tigers are investing in the upside of Gorzelanny in his second season back from shoulder surgery.

It came together quickly after the holiday season, according to both sides.

“It was a pretty easy decision,” Gorzelanny told MLB.com in a text message. “When they called and made an offer, I was ready to get something done. Great team to play for, an obvious World Series contender, it was an easy choice.”

The Tigers had interest in Gorzelanny back when he was a young starter in Pittsburgh five years ago. He has bounced around in the years since, spending two years each with the Cubs, Nationals and most recently the Brewers, but only became a full-time reliever in 2012 and again last season.

Gorzelanny worked his way back from shoulder surgery a year ago to make 23 appearances out of the Brewers bullpen last summer, allowing two earned runs on 22 hits over 21 innings with eight walks and 23 strikeouts. Left-handed hitters batted 11-for-34 (.324) against him, but the lone extra-base hit was a double.

Most of those appearances came in lower-pressure situations. Gorzelanny entered with the Brewers trailing in 20 of his 23 appearances last year, 10 times by three runs or more. Still, teams were watching.

“We saw him early coming back, and his velocity was down. He didn’t throw nearly as well as he did later in the year,” Dombrowski said. “His velocity picked up back to the normal range, upper 80s, low 90s. He’s always had a deceptive delivery.”

For his career, Gorzelanny has allowed a .231 average to left-handed batters, including 18-for-98 (.184) with 28 strikeouts with Milwaukee in 2013.

Though Gorzelanny was fine after returning in June, his velocity on all of his pitches was down, including a fastball that dropped from an average of 91.1 mph in 2013 to 89.2 mph last season, according to Fangraphs.

“It was a little bit of a struggle to come back from the surgery,” Gorzelanny said. “It was the first surgery of my career and it was a learning experience for me. Once I got more comfortable throwing, things got better.

“Now, having a normal offseason this year, I feel much better and stronger than I have in a while.”

It’s not a high-profile addition after bigger-name lefties such as Andrew Miller and Zach Duke signed lucrative deals off the market earlier this offseason, but it’s the kind of deal the Tigers have made in their bullpen in recent years.

Gorzelanny is expected to fill the slot left open by Phil Coke, who became a free agent after five seasons in Detroit, and complement Ian Krol, who wore down at midseason, and Alex Wilson, acquired in the Rick Porcello trade last month.

Dombrowski didn’t rule out re-signing Coke, but haven’t had active talks.

“I think our siutation with Phil is we’re open-minded,” Dombrowski said. “We’ve been open-minded. We haven’t aggressively been pursuing signing Phil. I can’t really say one way or the other.”

With Detroit’s 40-man roster full, the Tigers designated long reliever Luke Putkonen’s contract for assignment to make room. Putkonen pitched in just two games last season before undergoing surgery to remove a bone spur from his right elbow. Detroit could still end up with the 28-year-old Putkonen in camp as a non-roster invite if he clears waivers and is outrighted to Triple-A Toledo.

54 Comments

2.88 8.1 K /9 as reliever

contract terms? 4M?

if the Tigers are smart they will use him as a reliever IMO. We don’t need a swing man unless a lot of injuries happen to the starting rotation.

I wanted a LOOGY and got one! Sort of, maybe, hopefully.
Coincidentally I posted my thoughts earlier this morning at MotorCity Bengals:
http://motorcitybengals.com/2015/01/06/want-loogy/

If they sign max, move Simone to the pen….holy cow we might actually have a decent bullpen

OMG, Evan is that really you?

Live from Phoenix!

all this sunshine got me to forgetting that I’m nearly positive that Max’s arm will fall off long before his contract ends. Not to mention he has issues going 8-9 innings and fielding his position.

then again I was sure AL’s arm was BBQ with all those innings last season

Current payroll: 134.7 MM Projected salaries for Price:19. Al2 1.7. JD 2.9. Let’s say 25. They will get more than the projected figures. Around 164 for opening day like in 2014

Forgot Simon: 5.1. Then 28

i remember Gorzelanny as a top Pirates starting pitching prospect. not sure what he’s got left after shoulder surgery, but should have more than 2 pitches in his repertoire. don’t believe he ever was a hard thrower. lefties can succeed with a fastball in upper 80s.

FORGET A LOOGY. Loogy’s don’t even really exist anymore – the game has moved on. These days you have people that can get out more than 1 guy and more than only 1 type of handedness. BYB had an article about it a week or two ago. Yes, you needed guys who can get out Lefties – do you need a LOOGY, no.

Well we decided to give up our season tickets this year??? Looking at the schedule and the way it set up most of the home games are in April, May and September…ie the really cold months. Hardly any in July and August. Terribly disappointed that the 2nd year in a row that’s how MLB set up the home games. We just decided we’d rather go when we want to not when it’s rainy and cold just because we have tickets. Last year I wore a winter coat until the middle of June and all of September. Frankly it’s just not that fun going and freezing your butt off.

i only had season tix in 2003. mostly just to jaw with Carlos at 1B. Back then you could basically smoke cigs in any part of the park.

In ’03 you could practically have sex in any part of the ballpark unseen.

Oh yeah? Why didn’t you tell me that back in 2003?

Major league baseball channel is starting to depress me . I don’t know were they get there faxs .. Where they Tigers gave up Drew Smilee and Autin Jaskson and two others for ,, … David Price …. Who ever follow the Tigers know they have a gut feeling that David Price is going long term .. He is just waiting for Max . to sign so he can get what is fair … You and me would not trade Price it is like cole Hamill .he is due three top players .. And that is not going to happen ..Ip is about time that the Tigers spring board in to 2015 and just paid the main player what is due to him like(M. Cabrea ) ..He got is dues last year …Thanks

Off topic: a really fine concert was performed in Alexandria tonight by Michigan’s own and long time Detroit sports fan Jeff Daniels, along with his son Ben and his band. If you ever get the chance, see this show, currently on tour.

buy the ticket. take the ride.

So glad I didn’t have to take I-94 this morning.

what, you don’t like fireworks?

I used to love them until our legislature has blown up the beautiful state of MI with “no holds barred” fireworks rights. At least, it seems that way to me. It’s become a nightmare for most families, especially those with Vets and pets.

Hey, Evan, I had been awake, I probably could have heard them. Not that far from the freeway.

While I was certainly referring to the fireworks truck from this morning earlier, NOW I am talking about a different kind of fireworks: http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2015/01/09/tigers-official-on-max-scherzer-we-have-to-have-him/
.
.
WHAT! THE! HECK!

Qs about Price? make him an offer like the one Scherzer is looking for and move one. Price over Scherzer, by far.
There will be a lot of arms in the market in 2016 including Fister and Zimmerman

Qs like….how much better is he than Max😉 C’mon he’s a lefty, with a beautiful delivery. But I think he wants out of this area…Detriot and the entire midwest….isn’t for everyone.

He’s from Tennessee. Not much difference really.

As much as I like Max Scheerzer it is probably in the best interests of the Tigers just o let him go. $ signs in baseball are detestable but they do exist. Signing Max is a very expensive risk. I don’t see him lasting anymore than 2 or 3 years “MAX”. Another cumbersome contract like that and it impacts roster decsions for years to come.
I think the Tigers need to draw a line in the sand and not add to the insanity of ever increasing contracts for emotional or loyalty reasons.
It is time to part ways.

Would you want to be the GM who traded both Doug Fister and David Price? Hopefully they’re just waiting for Scherzer to set the money bar and then they sign Price to a big contract that’s actually useful.

Hey Dan, we just had our family Christmas with our kids. They got me a baseball signed by Al Kaline (with the certification of authenticity of course). Price will learn to like the Midwest when we win the WS next year! Go Tigers!

That’s cool. Did you ever hear the story about him signing a ball for me when I was a kid?

The Hopes and Dreams dept. of the Detroit Tigers is written about by ESPN writer http://insider.espn.go.com/blog/buster-olney/post?id=9108 you gotta pay for it thought I so don’t know what it says

BTW: one Venezuelan voter refused his to the Gallarraga mentioned in the article.

I just read “I WASN’T GOING TO TRY TO GOUGE SOMEBODY JUST BECAUSE I HAD BEEN AROUND FOR A WHILE”. – al Kaline…..and I about fell out of my chair. How could anyone even think of such a concept!?! I’ve never been anything but chastised at the thought of even taking less than the max. This world has pretty much gone to hell.

Nice article, Dan. Good work.
I got Al Kaline’s autograph on my scorebook after the game of June 17, 1965. He had tied the game in the 7th with a 3-run homer and Norm Cash hit the winner into the overhang in the 8th. That’s off the top of my head so folks, feel free to go to baseball-reference to check me out on the facts.
Anyway, it has occurred to me that this will make 50 years since then.. I should get Al’s autograph again if I can find him at spring training. I only wish I still had the original scorebook but it was unfortunately lost when relatives cleaned out the house after my mother’s death. Can you imagine getting the same scorebook autographed by the same guy 50 years later?

Your memory was close, McAuliffe hit a solo shot then Kaline hit a 2 run shot.

Priceless!
Stormin’ Norman was a beauty. I remember stories (though this one is unconfirmed) of him unbuckling and stealthily removing 1st base with Aparicio leading off—– then applying a tag on him when he went back to 1st with Norm holding the bag behind his back!
Also another one about going up to bat with a table leg against Nolan Ryan:

Or calling “Time-Out” when caught in a rundown.

These Tiger memories are fantastic. One of my all time favorites was Frank Lary, the “Yankee Killer”. Never forget that 61 year, when Lary won 23, the Tigs won 101, but Whitey won 25, and The Yanks won it by 8 games. To the best of my knowlede, lary is still living in Alabama, and is about 83-84 years old. Norm’s Table leg defense against K’s is one to never forget.

One of the lesser known tricks of Norm Cash was his ability to take a ball and flip it out of his hand, roll it up his arm, behind his neck, down the opposite arm, then flip it into his mitt. He was performing these little Globetrotters-like ball tricks all night. For a little kid sitting just beyond firstbase, I was fascinated.

I remember when I was a youth ,,, The 1968 Tigers were my favorite team ,,,and Norm Cash when coming to the plate I would cross my fingers that he hit a homerun,,Just like I cross my fingers for Migael Cabbera in 2015 … Go Tigers

Hope Max doesn’t let Borgs hold out to long ,,Because Steven Drew sign intill May and had a bad year … If Max follow suit he will be 4-5 by the All star game and everybody will be hollaring about tthe 200 million dollars he got …He will say o well I got my money .. We all know it is not coming from the Tigers …

rumor is it, he will get his money from the tigers. Price will stay. Simone to bullpen. ….. it is what it is….

Yes Dan, I read your article a few weeks ago and Mr. Tiger turning 80. My Mom turned 80 on the 4th of July. She was over for dinner yesterday and we talked about our trip to Detroit for Al Kaline day. August 2, 1970. Being 13, this was the biggest moment of my life so far. Why did the Lodge have an accident on that day? We left plenty early. Two hours and cars were overheating on that expressway. Made it to the game late and hardly remember anything because I was so mad!

Okay, story swapping time.
July 5, 1976: The Bird is making that famous start against the Yankees on national TV; you’ve probably seen the video. It was a sellout but I think there may have been 100,000 people trying to attend that game. My buddy and I end up stuck in stand still traffic on the Jefferson freeway ramp. Just sitting there, staring at the church steeple, and the game has begun and we have it on the radio. Can’t get in, can’t get out.
We’re in this 15 year old van with no a/c and it’s July, so I get out to walk along the bridge as the van creeps along. Unfortunately, the police have decided to use this sidewalk as an emergency lane and next thing I know I have a squad car behind me. One officer sticks his head out the window and asks me what I’m doing and I tell him. He replies “You can’t walk here” and since it’s 1976 and I didn’t expect to get shot, I ask if it’s against the law to walk on a public sidewalk. At that point, both doors of the squad car open and, as the officers exit their vehicle I am entering my buddy’s van, and quickly, I might add.
We got back home just in time to watch the final out on TV.

Make that the JEFFRIES freeway.

🙂 that’s a pretty sweet story, Rich!

Super story ….

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