Don Kelly signs minor-league deal with Marlins

Sundays usually aren’t this busy during baseball offseasons, aside from the winter meetings. This one was busy for Tigers departures, not additions.

On the same night Tigers fans saw Max Scherzer agree to terms with the Nationals, Don Kelly also headed elsewhere. Detroit’s longtime utlityman and fan favorite agreed to a minor-league contract with the Miami Marlins, a deal that includes a non-roster invite to Major League Spring Training.

The deal gives Kelly a chance to compete for the kind of utility role that kept him in the big leagues in Detroit for the better part of five seasons. He played in 569 games in Detroit, including 24 postseason contests, and played every position in the field at some point.

Kelly became a free agent when the Tigers took him off the 40-man roster at the end of last season. He had talked with the Tigers about a return, but like Andy Dirks, decided he had a better opportunity to make the Major League roster elsewhere.

“There were [talks with the Tigers],” Kelly told MLB.com in a text message Sunday night. “Wasn’t an easy decision, but Miami was a better fit at this rate.”

Kelly, who turns 35 next month, was the last of the Randy Smith era draft picks in Detroit, and had an unlikely Tigers tenure, having left the organization and come back before making the roster.. He never had 300 plate appearances in a season, but he turned a part-time role into a long Tigers career. He had 23 home runs in 570 regular-season games as a Tiger, not including the shot he hit off Ivan Nova in Game 5 of the 2011 AL Division Series. A year later, he hit a game-winning sacrifice fly in Game 2 of the ALDS against Oakland. He started the deciding Game 5 in the 2013 ALDS at Oakland, then played in all six games against Boston in the ALCS. In the process, he became a fan favorite for many.

Once the Tigers traded for Yoenis Cespedes, however, the opportunity for a reserve outfielder in Detroit was limited, with Rajai Davis now thrust into a part-time role. Add in Tyler Collins’ presence, and the picture looked better in Miami, where the Marlins are in need of outfield depth, and the Marlins made sense.

24 Comments

Joel Sherman ‏@Joelsherman1 · 7m7 minutes ago
“Can confirm @Ken_Rosenthal report that Scherzer is going to get more than $180M on 7-yr deal from #Nationals”

Keeping up with the Joneses.. Scherzer just wanted more then Verlander ( 187 without the option)

I think your assessment is right on, El Tigre. He’s extremely competitive and wanted as much or more than Verlander. Maybe he’ll finally get a no-hitter in the NL. A little easier to pitch in that league.

I have the Tigers with the 23rd and 34th pick. But some have them with the 33rd Who Im missing?

I have many problems with Scherzer but the biggest is I just don’t think 1 good year should bet you that. Last year there were 25 better pitchers – 2012 there were 37 better and in 11 72 better. I mean is that worth being the 2nd highest paid pitcher ever? I really don’t think so. Secondly he’s a hard thrower with a violent delivery ,,, let’s see how recent contracts of flame throwers at the top of their game have gone……JV bad…….CC Sabathia …um bad. As much as I would of liked to have him on a shorter reasonable deal 180 million for 7 years no thank you.

I’m sadder to see Don Kelly go and I’m serious …

Never his fan, so as good as when they traded Fielder. One mistake corrected, other avoided.

As a person I’ve always very much enjoyed Max – he reminds me of many of my friends. Max, since his brother died, has pitched at a level one only could imagine in the wildest of dreams. Good for him but 2 things: 1) we’ve already foolishly spent our money on JV, and 2)I’m not interested in paying for pasts – I’m trying to develop players.

The Tigers followed that philosophy from 1977 to 1983.Campbell prevented them from losing Trammell, Lou and Morris before 1984.

Sorry, Monaghan ,the other pizza maker

Neither Houston nor the Yankees

Kelly’s versatility should play well in the NL if he gets the opportunity. I think it was Al Kaline who said Kelly was their 2nd best defensive OF (behind Jackson) in recent years. He was a good fit with Leyland’s style of managing the 25 man roster. Leyland gave him a fine compliment when he said that Kelly was simply a great teammate.

Donnie Kelly Baby has been leaving ever since he got here. Six years ago. He was involved in some very big Tigers moments over that time.
Good luck to him in the next phase of his career, and there will probably always be some kind of job waiting for him with the Detroit organization.

Last year the Nationals went on and on about what a pleasant surprise Doug Fister was. I suspect it may be the opposite with Scherzer.

Don’t think I agree with you there Rich. Max seems like a great guy. Doesn’t appear to be a premadona. He just has a bigger back account. I think the first 1-3 years they will love the signing, just like the Tigers would have. It is in 5 years that you will probably hear the grumblings.

Don Kelly was always an NL player on the Tigers roster. He will fit much better in Miami where his versatility will be an asset. Good luck DOnnie!

I also will miss Kelly more than $cherzer. I love the way Donnie played the game. As for Max, I enjoyed watching him pitch, the money is now more important than a team. Like the stock market, you invest for a period of time and hope you are profitable. Income generated from cable TV will soon go to the internet. Putting fans in the seats and selling merchandise is so important. Well, time to get out of my Tigers logo sweat pant and go to work. Go Tigers!

On June 11, 2009 – Don Kelly, the 237th overall draft pick from the 2001 draft, was called up to replace Clete Thomas. Since then he’s been involved in a handful of crucial moments – like the 2006 walk off sacrifice. “Get’em DK”, “Donnie Kelly Baby” will always stick with me. I suspect later in life I’ll always cherish talking to those who remember, about Don Kelly.

2012 walk off sac…my b

I’ll miss Kelly. I actually liked him. I know he can’t hit but not many 25th men can. I hope he gets a chance in Miami. As for Scherzer I wish him luck too. Glad we didn’t sign him. I have no hard feelings about him chasing $200 million. I wouldn’t turn that down. I’m just glad he’ll be Washington’s problem. Looks like they just chose Scherzer over Zimmermann or Strasburg.

I was thinking I would be the first here to congratulate Max on his new career path. Nice comments Parsons.
In the wild world of sports business Max has done what players have been conditioned to do. He was a great pitcher and if we would have been able to scoop him on a deal I was all for it. But realistically, any deal, even of the magnitude of the original extension offer, would have been debilitating to the team.
Good luck to Max, DK and Andy. They served us well.

So who foresaw that we’d be discussing the Scherzer deal on a blog post about Don Kelly?
Just kidding, Jason will have something when the dust (or dollar bills) settle.

It’s not that Max is a bad pitcher. It IS that he won’t be as good as they think he will be. The Nat’s Tanner Roarke went 15-10 with a 2.85 ERA last year and he’s not even in the rotation now.
The Nationals are prohibitive favorites to win the NL East. Anyone that thinks they have bought a WS title doesn’t understand baseball.

I am sure there are 31 teams that would love to help Washington with the problem of Tanner Roarke. He would fit in everyones starting 5 in my opinion.

If they don’t want him can we have him!!!
Excellent numbers.

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