Tigers agree to terms with Mike Pelfrey

Four days after signing a frontline starter, the Tigers have found the veteran they were seeking to fill out their rotation, agreeing to terms with right-hander Mike Pelfrey on a two-year contract worth $16 million, MLB.com has learned.

The deal is pending a physical. The Tigers have not commented on the agreement, first reported by CBSSports.com. An official announcement could be made as early as Sunday in Nashville when Tigers officials arrive for baseball’s Winter Meetings.

The Tigers’ interest in Pelfrey goes as far back as 2005, when he was a highly touted right-hander out of Wichita State University. David Chadd, then in his first year as Tigers scouting director and living in Wichita, had a closeup look at Pelfrey as a Shocker.

The Mets drafted Pelfrey that year with the ninth overall selection, one pick ahead of Detroit. The Tigers selected high school outfielder Cameron Maybin. Now, it appears they’ll have both, acquiring each of them less than a month apart.

Pelfrey, who turns 32 years old next month, spent the past three seasons in Minnesota, where he posted a 6-11 record and 4.26 ERA over 30 starts in 2015. He allowed 198 hits over 164 2/3 innings with 45 walks and 86 strikeouts. He had the lowest home-run ratio among qualified AL pitchers, allowing just 11 homers, but he also ranked third in the AL with 12 hit batters.

Pelfrey has battled back from season-ending injuries in two of the last four years, missing most of 2012 to Tommy John surgery before a shoulder injury and nerve irritation in his elbow limited him to five starts in 2014. He delivered similar comeback seasons in 2013 and 2015: High hit totals, low home-run damage and better metrics than results.

Pelfrey looked very good early in the year, boasting a 5-2 record and 2.28 ERA through his first 11 starts. A pair of eight-run barrages in June sent his season spiraling with a 1-9 record and 5.62 ERA over his final 19 outings, lasting through the sixth inning in just seven of those matchups.

Pelfrey seemed to physically wear down after essentially a lost 2014. Yet his fastball velocity jumped from an average of 90.8 mph during his handful of 2014 starts to 93.3 last year, according to Fangraphs. It marked his highest average for any full season in his career.

Pelfrey also reportedly went to a split-finger changeup, resulting in less reliance on his fastball.

It’s not the glamour signing that Jordan Zimmermann was, but it gives the Tigers the veteran innings-eater they were seeking and one who has a chance for a bounceback year, while leaving a rotation spot open long-term for one of their young starters. Pelfrey will join Justin Verlander, Zimmermann and Anibal Sanchez in the Tigers rotation, with the fifth spot a competition among young starters Daniel Norris, Matt Boyd, Shane Greene, Kyle Lobstein .Buck Farmer and Michael Fulmer.


I feel compe;;ed to reiterate my comment from the prevous thread:
Are you bloody kidding me? May as well be Brad Penny.
I think this is a very lazy decision and a poor one to boot.
Ver, Sanchie, Zim, Rookie and injured marginal RHP?? That will not cut it Al.
Pelfrey has had 5 years in the bigs with ERA OVER. 5.0
He gives up a run for every strikeout pretty much, and has an exprememly unflattering WHIP. And they are willing to give up ($8.5 million/2.5 millinon RAISE!) salary space for this?
The only bats Pefrey will miss are the ones in the belfry.

This is the kind of signing my limbic system was warning me of. I personally think it is awful. Rich mentioned the word “hope” I will add the word “dream”. This is a classic case of that. We are not talking about having 4 solid Atlanta Brave type starters here and thrwoing in fodder we are talking about a very suspect rotation to begin with and plastering it with mediocrity at best.

Dan, I totally agree with you. The Tigers look like they may escape the cellar, but this is not a championship team. The run differential was a huge problem last year and I don’t see how the players Avila has assembled, particularly the pitchers, will rectify that problem. My main hope was that either Ilitch would spend for at least a Gallardo-type or a trade would be put together for Gray or Fernandez or even Miller.Mediocrity is what we fans can expect unless virtually everyone on the club have career years and stay healthy.

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MLBT one month ago:
Mike Pelfrey – Royals. Two years, $15MM. Pelfrey isn’t the most exciting free agent starter, but the righty did make 30 starts for the Twins this year with the game’s eighth best home run prevention rate. Teams like the Royals, Tigers, and Phillies could entertain him for the back end of the rotation.R:

will be interesting to see who has the better 2016: Pelfrey, Fister, Porcello.

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they are paying for what he did in the first half last season. if he can duplicate it and extend it into the 2nd half, they have a bargain. the potential pitfall is weighing those early season scouting reports too heavily

He may have worn down over the full season after coming back from injuries. Time will tell on this one. The comparison with Fister will be around for awhile, that’s for sure.

At least there’s this:
Mike Berardino ‏@MikeBerardino 6h6 hours ago
Will say this again: Never covered a more accountable, stand-up athlete (any sport) than Mike Pelfrey. No excuses — ever. #MNTwins #Tigers

It appears Avila is banking on a couple avenues of thought here. Does Pelfry bounce back and produce a solid year (16-10) or does he just pitch .500 and eat up 200+ innings at 12-12 and save the bullpen 30 times through the rotation? Does Pelfry pitch solid during the 1st half of the season and buy the Tigers minor league prospects additional time to develop (Fulmer, Cessa) and be called up after the trade deadline for the balance of the season without a low innings ceiling? You only need 3 solid starters in the ALCS playoffs and hopefully they have those (3) in Ver, Zimm and Sanchez. As Dan stated earlier, “hope and dream” is the emphasis on that statement. I personally was hoping for a “better” starter than Palfrey but perhaps Avila is looking to spend the $$$$ on bullpen (DD never did) and LF? At least he’s not shy of pulling the trigger before the pawns get taken.

Pelfrey will soon be 32. He hasn’t thrown 200 innings in a season since 2010 and has a 61-81 career record. Opposing hitters have hit over .300 against him each year since 2012. Pelfrey’s career WHIP is 1.48. His picture is posted next to the word mediocre in the dictionary. He is a horrible signing.

After last year, I would welcome some mediocre pitching. Because last year was about 100 levels below mediocre. Face it, you need some luck, someone to come through. If Palfrey and all the guys we got in the trades fail to contribute at all, that is bad luck. You can’t have superstars at every pitching spot and starting position.

Well you can have pitching stars at every starting spot, The Tigers had stars throughout the rotation until just recently. It was an elite corps. I’m watching MLBTN now and it doesn’t sound like they can figure the Pelfrey deal out either. And I was being generous by calling Pelfrey mediocre. He has been the worst in MLB at going deep into games since 2009 (?). Like I said, the only hope for this club is that they stay healthy and the the majority of players have career years, including Pelfrey.


After looking at 2014, this was Pelfrey’s bounce back year.

MLBTR, nov 9 2015, top 50 FA predictions:
Pelfrey -Royals. Two years, $15MM. Pelfrey isn’t the most exciting free agent starter, but the righty did make 30 starts for the Twins this year with the game’s eighth best home run prevention rate. Teams like the Royals, Tigers, and Phillies could entertain him for the back end of the rotation.

As they said on MLBTN, his 30 starts resulted in going deep less times than any starter in MLB since 2009(?).

Pelfrey 5.5 IP/GS. Strasburg 5.5 Gallardo 5.6
12 QS 40% Gallardo 12 /36%

They were looking a 4th starter and he is a 4th starter

I can’t figure all the love for Pelfrey. He is a horrible sign. Pelfrey could NOT complete the fifth inning in 10 of his 30 starts. Pelfrey had 6 wins. Simon had 13. Pelfrey had 12 QS. So did Simon..Pelfrey averaged 5.5 innings per start. Simon averaged 6 and pitched more innings. The bottom line is no one was happy with Simon as a 4th or 5th starter and he came much cheaper than Pelfrey. Frankly, I do NOT want either pitcher in the Tigers rotation.

Pelfrey pitched for a winning team last season. The Twins didn’t bring him back for a reason. Simon pitched for a losing team, but with better results. Still, the Tigers didn’t bring him back for a reason.

Does Avila and scouts know something we don’t know about Pelfrey? Separate note, what would the addition of Ben Zobrist do for Tigers? Could they part with Ian Kindler before his down slope and insert Machado/Zobrist at 2B and let Zobrist play LF too?

The “auto-correct” stinks on this web site, Obviously, I meant Kinsler

Verlander, Zimmermann and Sánchez are the centerpieces of the rotation
Miguel, VMart and JD, the offense.
They have a bona fide closer .
The 4th and 5th guys wont make the difference.
They still need a couple of relievers and ,maybe, another bat. Adding an expensive 4th starter would have precluded that

Greinke, to DBacks

It’s interesting that some folks here are happy with a 4th (or 5th) starter.
The problem is we could likely have 3 4th or 5th type starters and if Verlander was not a fluke last year maybe even 4.
They absolutely needed to sign another Ace or (close to an ace) for this ball club to push Norris back to the 5th spot and not assume he is middle of the rotation quality.

This is an incredulous signing. As I mentioned before this is not a 5th guy to be added to Maddon, Smoltz, Avery and Glavine. Nor is it a Cuellar, Dobson, Palmer, Mc Nally.
When you had guys like Drysdale, Koufax, Sutton or Feller, Garcia, Wynn, Lemon type rotation.

Heck, McLain, Lolich, Wilson, Sparma would be more dependable than this edition.
You can candy-coat this as much as you want but it is not a championship calibre rotation and it certainly will not overcome the defecit in the bullpen.

They made it Morris, Petry, Wilcox, Rozema and Berenguer!! ( he was a journeyman here in Venezuela. I saw him exploding in the first winning 6-0 and allowing 7 in the bottom of the same inning. He was suspended in Venezuela, and then he was a Tiger)
And they were close with Rogers, Verlander, Bondo , Robertson, Grilli and Milner
They had one of the top rotation in history and did not make the 2013 WS

The playoffs are a crap shoot. Getting there is paramount Then it’s a matter of which team is hot, injuries, match-ups, luck,etc. Why else would teams with vastly inferior records prevail over clubs with 100 win seasons and win the WS? The marathon turns into a short sprint.

The Tigers probably need at least 90 wins to make the playoffs. If Pelfrey (4th starter) repeats his 6 victories from last season and the 5th starter combo of Greene, Farmer, Norris and Lobstein (a high combined total of 40 starts and 9 victories) repeats, then JV, Sanchez and Z-Man will have to average 25 wins each to enter the promised land. Just how does it NOT matter what the 4th and 5th starters do?

Jay, I like Ben Zobrist as well. I think your idea would work. What would he cost?

Greinke 195/6

You are comparing apples with oranges. The 1984 club is a poor comparison. Wilcox had 17 wins, Morris 19, Petry 18, Berengeur 11 and Rozema 7 (in only 16 spot starts) in a 4-man rotation era.. What you have also failed to consider is the BP. Hernandez pitched a whopping 140.1 innings with 9 wins and 32 saves. Add in Lopez’ 137.2 innings with 14 saves. That kind of BP help does not exist in the present era..

Highest-paid MLB players by average annual value:

Zack Greinke: $32.5M
David Price: $31M
Miguel Cabrera: $31M
Clayton Kershaw: $30.7M

So is the 1968 team. Or the 1970 O´s or the 1960´s Dodgers

Different eras. Pitchers wet over 300 innings and were in 4-man rotations. Some relievers went 200 innings and more.

I did not bring up those teams

86 games were enough in 2015 to make the playoffs

Are you going to Vegas and betting that number?

That was enough for the Yankees and Houston

And lesser numbers have led to WS championships. You are a numbers guy. That position is not you.

Houston. Yankees, 87

16 mil for Pelfry is too much, but, in this market it is a relatively small investment for an SP who may hold his own. Maybe more money is now available for OF and BP. At 200+ mil for #1 SP, their value is overrated. Just my opinion. All eggs in one basket mentality is a huge risk. Mind you, Dan and Darline, I fully understand your disappointment. I was hoping for another impact starter as well. But it sounds like Pelfry will bring a positive hard working mentality to the clubhouse that may prove as equally valuable as his pitching. I’m hoping one or two of our young starters are ready. Plenty got valuable experience last season. Contending teams did not have that luxury in the playoff run.

In fact, 8 MM. It is 16/2

The Tigers will be lucky to win 81 games unless lots of folks have career years and the guys can stay healthy. Maybe ElT will take the 81 wins to Vegas. Not me.

ElT, you did so bring up the Dodgers of the 60’s. In 1965, Koufax went 335.2, Drysdale went 308.1 and Osteen went 287 They made a combined 123 starts in a 154 game season. A different era. Apples to oranges. Poor comparison. The eras are not comparable.

No, read Dan´s comment again.

Read you comment at 9;03 pm: “or the 1960’s Dodgers.”

One hour before:
“When you had guys like Drysdale, Koufax, Sutton or Feller, Garcia, Wynn, Lemon type rotation.

Heck, McLain, Lolich, Wilson, Sparma would be more dependable than this edition.”
I was replying to him.

I think the data is all relevant (and hopefully accurate) as I have presented it. I also think we may be having another communication/translation issue. I like your info and opinions.They are food for thought, regardless of our positions..

I’m beat.Need some sleep. Good night.

EiT, I was confused so I re-checked your Dodgers comment. It was actually at 9;05 and was in the “reply” section to me, not Dan. The Dodger info is a perfect example to buttress my apples and oranges era comparison remark.

Well, we will just have to wait and see if the Tigers can hit against so-so pitching this year. Seems like every other team’s 4th and 5th starter had them stymied too many times. I’m not upset about the signing. Maybe that new analytical team Avila put together knows more than we do. Sure do hope so.

For those that don’t visit BYB, this is a comment from “G Wilson:
“Tremendous acquisition

Pelfrey ranked third in the Junior Circuit behind Keuchel and Buehrle in ground balls allowed into a 50 degree angular sector centered at second base where he allowed a BABIP 21 points above league average. Detroit’s defensive BABIP in the region was 11 points below league average. It appears that adding my man Chris Long to the analytics team is paying immediate dividends.”

Yeah. Maybe he can break his streak of 4 straight seasons of hitters batting .300 against him. If not, Long can go back to playing fantasy baseball..

translation: Pelrey gives up a lot of groundballs thru the box that Kinsler/Iglesias can turn into outs? the 50 degree angular sector bit is a deep dig down the statistical rabbit hole and would be utterly mind-blowing at a press conference

if you play those numbers straight, it suggests that 97 out of 100 base hits up the middle would still be hits, right, or is MY math fuzzy? if so, how significant is that really?

I did realize it was 16/2 El T. I should have stated 8 mil for 2016.

Samardzija gets 5 yrs, $90m from Giants. Now THAT’S crazy.

you’re right, some of these owners have to have their heads examined. A guy like him getting that much money for that length of time. Ridiculous.

Joe Jimenez with 4th save in Puerto Rico yesterday. Rondon with 1st win in DR. 1 inning, 2 walks, 1 K. Moya 0-5 now .281

also Jose Valdez who threw 9 forgettable innings for Tigers in 2015: 1.1 hitless with no walks, 2 Ks in DR

…and all of this means exactly what?? Rondon will be gone at some point in the season. This is an org holding on to the Cabrera era and absolutely lucked out with JD. Where’s the BP help??

it means that they are playing winter ball in an effort to improve and break through to the next level. that is all.

Cool that you are watching that stuff. JJ is one of my favourites in the farm system. For the life of me I don’t know why he wasn’t accelerated beyond WM single A last year.
Never made sense to me.

Baseball America puts out a daily report on prospect performances for all teams. it’s continued during the winter months. I look at it from time to time.

The fact that AA made a deal like this terrifies me. Firstly, because he made it. Secondly, becausedoes he think he may be able to pull one over ( I sure hope that is not the case) the eyes of diligent and knowledgeable Tiger fans by pretending this is more than it is?

It appears to me that Avila, like Dombrowski, laid out the offseason plans and is doing exactly as he said they would do. Pelfrey might not be preferred (not touching that word combo) by fans but he is within the category of pitchers Avila said they would seek.

Today, Fenech of the Free Press outed Ilitch. ” Money no object; actions say different.” The Tigers have ” settled for the next-best players instead of spending on the best.”.

Again, shame on me for believing and defending Ilitch.

Wow, so many comments on Pelfry. Maybe he is reading this blog. Who do you all want the Tigers to get? Does it make sense to spend 200 million for 6 years? How did KC win it all? What Ace wants to come to Detroit? The bullpen lost many games for us last year, not the starters. With some more clutch hitting, a new pitching coach, better base running, the Tigers are winning the Central. Go Tigers 2016!

you think the Tigers would learn from long term contracts, especially pitchers.

I don’t even know where to begin in response to your comments. So, I’ll just keep it simple. The starters were last in the AL with a 4.78 ERA. The BP finished second to last with a 4.38 ERA. Overall, the staff was last in the AL with a 4.64 ERA.

The comment about Pelfry are pretty justified, as comment go anyway. We had a need for TWO qualty starters capable of quality starts. We got one.
The rhetoric of using the owner’s money to accomplish getting the missing ingredients was once again publicly bantered about but the result was a dollar-saving innings-eater.
If they were really serious about getting starters who can make a difference then it would have been Zimmerman AND at least a decent LHP like Chen, Happ or Kazmir.
And I say at least because every Tiger fan knew in his/her heart that all the bluster about not caring about dollars only pertained to players less than Price, Greinke, Cueto, Gallardo anyway.
Pefrey would be just dandy on a team that has 4 quality, durable, dependable, and capable starters to begin with. Detroit does not have that.

I agree with you. He’d be a great piece to a Dodgers rotation or Cardinals…

what was the hurry? Show the fans that they’re not content. BP Help!! Where’s our quality LH starter??

Let us not forget that we have Lloyd M back in the fold. Hitting should be back on track again…NOT!

McClendon still drawing fire even though he’s in the minors. tough crowd.

Relievers receiving 3 and 4 year deals at roughly $7.5m per year.

the value of a lights-out setup guy is not lost in current GM thinking

Sipp at that range would be a bargain. He made 2.4 million last year and can be dominating at times. Doesn’t walk nearly as many as a guy like Bastardo and has an attractive K/IP and WHIP. Also knows our division.
If they don’t sign him they are negligent.
Still shaking my head over the 2 year deal to Pelfrey.

I mean below that range. Sipp looks to me to be in for a raise but his specialty shouldn’t see a 100% raise.
I believe Rich has noted Sipp as an opportunity a few weeks ago.

Correct. I see him as a solid lefty who can pitch to RH hitters also. Not entirely a shut down reliever but useful.

Sipp is definitely not a ‘below the radar’ guy after the numbers he put up last season for a playoff team. there will be many interested teams. there are so few teams that DON’T need bullpen help. most of those are in major rebuilding mode.

the Astros got Sipp off the scrap heap. was pitching in AAA for San Diego when he asked for his release, then signed as free agent with Houston. the best recent reliever Tigers have gotten off that way was Hardy

Cameron of FanGraphs believes Shark is a good comp to Z-Man. But, Shark is younger and comes in at $4M less per year. And he doesn’t have a history of TJ surgery. I was very happy with the acquisition of Z-Man until I read Cameron’s take.

Request: can you please post a link to the articles you reference? I do click and read if that’s provided. Thanks.

See a couple entries below for article info.. By the way, I I got the ages of Shark and Jordan reversed. And as a Nationals fan, does the nickname Zman already belong to Ryan Z?,

I am thinking (hoping) the $$$ saved on Pelfry are intended for a lights out 8th inning guy like Soria.
Good to see the intent is to retain all the arms on the farm. Mid season trades are increasingly vital for successful seasons.

Rich, the article is an easy read with some metrics, WAR values,contract estimates and various references. The problem is I’m a cave person and don’t know how to post a link. But if you go to MLBTR and access the article entitled “Reactions to Jeff Samadzija” by Brad Johnson from 12-5-15 all you need to do is click on Dave Cameron of FanGraphs and you will be there.

Could Salty compete for a bullpen role? perhaps late innings? [grin]

As sad as it is to say it, Bryan would always have been an adequate emergency replacement. Good guy, good personality but limited potential. Salty can hit. He should whiff less than Alex, but the Switch-hitting aspect is a plus. This is a guy a bit like Alex in terms of unfulfilled potential. Pressure on Alex here was a factor.
Still waiting for a “Rise to meet the Rhetoric”, Very tired of Saint Michael Illitch being given credit for his generosity when all he really does is make money.

> Very tired of Saint Michael Illitch being given credit for his generosity when all he really does is make money.

That can be said about many many institutions that many or may not be american any more (or at least pay american taxes).

Yeah… And you are a fan of those institutions? Assuming you are not an investor getting screwed by someone on Wall Street named Madoff. He once got lots of credit, too..

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