Tigers sign Schierholtz, Kensing to minor-league deals
The Tigers completed their holiday shopping with some depth acquisitions Wednesday, announcing minor-league contracts with veteran outfielder Nate Schierholtz and right-handed reliever Logan Kensing. Both deals include invites to Major League camp.
The Tigers also announced minor-league deals to bring back former relief prospect Melvin Mercedes and veteran utility infielder Alberto Gonzalez. Right-hander Dustin Mollekin also agreed to a minor-league deal. None received invites to big-league camp.
None are big-name deals, but they’re the kind of depth the Tigers lacked last season. Schierholtz, who turns 32 in mid-February, was a rumored Tigers target in past seasons as a versatile left-handed hitter before heading to Japan.
Schierholtz hit 21 home runs with the Cubs in 2013 before batting .195 the next season between the Cubs and Nationals. He played this past season with the Hiroshima Carp of Japan’s Pacific League, batting .250 (58-for-232) with 10 home runs and 30 RBIs in 65 games.
Schierholtz is a .253 (529-for-2090) hitter in 799 career Major League games with 52 home runs and 228 RBIs. He also has 41 career outfield assists, nine of them in 87 games in right field in 2014.
Kensing, 32, pitched in 19 games for the Mariners this past season, allowing 10 runs on 12 hits over 15 1/3 innings with seven walks and 13 strikeouts. He made 19 more appearances for Triple-A Tacoma, allowing eight earned runs on 29 hits over 32 1/3 innings with 10 walks and 25 strikeouts.
For his career, Kensing has 177 Major League innings over 154 appearances, all but three of them in relief. He’s 10-10 with a 5.80 ERA, 96 walks and 157 strikeouts.
Mercedes, who turned 25 last month, pitched in one game for the Tigers in 2014 and ranked on MLB.com’s Tigers top 30 prospect list as recently as this past summer before becoming a minor-league free agent this offseason. He posted a 1-2 record and 4.95 ERA in 60 innings between Triple-A Toledo and Double-A Erie, walking 23 and striking out 52.
The 32-year-old Gonzalez, a veteran of seven Major League seasons, spent most of last season in Erie after joining the Tigers as a free agent last offseason. The native Venezuelan batted .283 (49-for-173) for the SeaWolves with 11 doubles, two home runs and 19 RBIs.
The 31-year-old Molleken has pitched for 12 seasons in the minors and two in Japan. He had one of his best seasons in 2015 as an Indians farmhand at Triple-A Columbus, going 5-3 with a 3.25 ERA in 40 relief appearances with 27 walks and 52 strikeouts.