Detroit Tigers sign pitcher Mike Fiers to 1-year, $6 million deal
The Tigers are heading to baseball's Winter Meetings with one of their off-season goals fulfilled: Sign a free-agent starting pitcher.
While both the free-agent and trade markets are slow just before baseball’s biggest off-season event, the Tigers got off to a head start by announcing the signing of right-hander Mike Fiers to a one-year deal on Friday.
Fiers, 32, represents the kind of low-cost inning-eater the Tigers were looking for at the back of their starting rotation. In parts of seven seasons, Fiers has posted a 4.15 ERA. He signed for $6 million, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.
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In 2017, Fiers went 8-10 with a 5.22 ERA and 1.42 WHIP in 28 starts. He was inconsistent, with lots of strikeouts (146 in 153 1/3 innings) and lots of home runs allowed (32). Moving from Minute Maid Park in Houston to the more spacious Comerica Park in Detroit could help with the home runs, though. Fiers threw a no-hitter for the Astros in his fourth start with the team after being acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers in 2015.
The Tigers were challenged by the Baltimore Orioles for Fiers’ services, according to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. But while Baltimore offered two years, they also play in the American League East, which features several hitter’s parks with potent offenses, which may have played a role in his decision.
The Astros chose not to offer him a contract last week rather than go to arbitration, meaning he still has a year of team control remaining after the 2018 season. If he pitches well this season, the Tigers could offer him arbitration, or trade him at some point during or after the season.
Fiers is a logical addition for a team focused on filling innings. Between the injury issues of righties Michael Fulmer and Jordan Zimmermann and the inconsistency issues of young lefties Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris, the Tigers are wise to have a backup plan.
Fiers is a solid start to that plan, though perhaps more pricey than the team would have preferred because of Baltimore's involvement. He has made 28 or more starts in three consecutive seasons and thrown at least 153 1/3 innings in each of them. He was removed from the Astros' starting rotation when Houston acquired Justin Verlander from the Tigers in an Aug. 31 trade.
With the addition of Fiers, the Tigers’ 40-man roster is full, but there is a strong possibility the team will make an additional roster move to free up a spot in the coming days before the Rule 5 draft on Dec. 14.
Contact Anthony Fenech: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @anthonyfenech.