The Tigers made three minor moves today, but since it’s November and there’s nothing worth doing in November, they feel like big moves. The Tigers let Darin Downs and Matt Tuiasosopo go on waivers to Houston and Arizona and they declined Jose Veras’ team option valued at $3.25 million.
Tuiasosopo played very well during the first half of the season but struggled mightily down the stretch. He may have had a chance to win a bench spot again in 2014, but he won’t have the same chance to platoon and likely won’t ever perform like he did this year again. If the Dbacks want him, you’re happy to take the roster spot.
Downs is actually a bit of a disappointment for me because I think Downs is tremendously underrated. He stuck out more than a batter an inning and walked fewer than 3 per 9 across 35.1 innings. The ERA looks bad because of a couple of rough outings (one right before he went on the DL), but the FIP and xFIP are solid and he’s left-handed. I realize the Tigers don’t see him as part of the long term plan, but this is the kind of guy you’d like to have around for depth.
The Veras option is extremely surprising given that the Tigers gave up a reasonably good prospect to get him and that they gave him the ball with the entire season on the line just a week and a half ago. He was going to cost them less than $4 million next year and could easily fill a variety of roles. It’s not so much that you’ll miss Veras, it’s that he was a cheap option for a bullpen with very little set in stone. Smyly will be back unless he’s in the rotation due to an injury and you’ll have Rondon and Alburquerque, health willing. Benoit is a free agent and everyone else is kind of on the brink. Having Veras around, even if you don’t think he’s a high leverage guy, makes sense.
The meat of the offseason is still coming and there will be much more to discuss, but on the first day of action, the Tigers have made one obvious move, one iffy move, and one seemingly crazy one. Not exactly a great start, but also not exactly critical either.