Most of the Tigers news on Friday was expected and unsurprising. Soria got his option ($7.5 million). Scherzer and Martinez got their qualifying offers (1 year, $15 million). They sent Kelly and Reed to Toledo, reinstated the DL guys, let Pat McCoy disappear on waivers. It was all pretty routine except for two weird things.
First, they added Wyton Bernard to the 40 man roster because…well, who knows? Mark Anderson had this to say:
Second, and of more consequence, the Tigers let Dirks go to the Blue Jays on waivers. This move indicates that the Tigers’ preference was to option Dirks to Toledo to make room on the 40-man roster for the offseason, but that they preferred losing him rather than letting him clog up a roster spot. Which is kind of crazy considering the 40-man roster isn’t full and has plenty of less important names on it. The indication is clearly that the Tigers aren’t very excited about Dirks’ future.
If that’s because his back is bad shape and he might never play again, this is all academic. But if the doctors think he will recover, this is a very silly move of moderate consequence.
What’s weird about this move (or maybe not weird at all) is that Dirks is exactly the kind of player the Tigers needed in 2014. He’s a competent hitter with a solid glove in the outfield. You know how many solid gloves they had in the outfield once Jackson was gone? None. You know how many pinch hitters they had on the bench as capable as Dirks? None.
A month ago, a healthy Dirks would have had meaningful PAs in a playoff series and now he’s given away for nothing. I don’t mean to suggest Dirks is a star player or that losing him means the end of the 2015 World Series dream, but he’s the kind of depth the team needs desperately and they had him sitting right there.
In 1063 career PA he has a 103 wRC+ and 3.4 fWAR. He’s projected to hit right about that well in 2015 and his glove has been improving over his career. Dirks is an average to slightly above average base runner with an average to above average glove in a corner who could potentially serve as a league average hitter without a massive platoon split. If healthy, this is an MLB starter and if somewhat banged up, he’s a super valuable bench player.
And the Tigers don’t want him. Maybe he’s badly hurt and the Blue Jays are just taking a low stakes gamble. But if he’s not, this is a silly decision. The Tigers need to be signing players like Dirks this winter, not purging their ranks of them. Literally, Ezequiel Carerra is still on the roster and Dirks is not.
Not devastating, but not exactly a good start.