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A sometimes-irreverent look at Detroit's Boys of Summer, the Tigers, as they try to return to the top of the American League Central.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Tigers find perfect spot for Armando Galarraga, sending him to D'Backs

As was rumored, the Tigers did indeed pull off the trade we wrote about earlier in the day, sending Armando Galarraga to Arizona in exchange for a pair of low-level pitching prospects.

(Click on the headline above to take you to the full story in Tuesday's edition of The Oakland Press)

Granted, two Class-A pitchers — whom Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski termed "fringe, not blue-chip" — is not a monumental return for a guy that's been a useful member of your rotation for three years, but it is better than getting nothing at all.

The Tigers clearly did not think they were going to have any use for him this season, nor did they feel the need to keep him as "insurance" should there be injuries to the starting pitching staff. 

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MLB source: Tigers nearing a deal to send Galarraga to the desert

So the rumblings on Saturday apparently were right on the money.

After The Arizona Republic's Diamondbacks beat writer Nick Piecoro blogged Saturday afternoon that the D-Backs were interested in talking to the Detroit Tigers about their extraneous rotation arm, Armando Galarraga, a Major League Baseball source has confirmed that trade talks are nearing completion, just two days later. writer Steve Gilbert wrote Monday morning that the Tigers and Diamondbacks were closing in on a deal, with the Tigers shipping Galarraga — and his recently-signed, $2.3 million contract — to Arizona, in return for minor league pitcher Kevin Eichhorn (bio here) and "another player."

Eichhorn, who is just less than two weeks from reaching the legal drinking age, is a long way from being ready for the majors. Acquired by Arizona in the third round of the 2008 draft, straight out of high school, Eichhorn made 13 starts at the rookie-league level last season, going 5-5 with a 4.94 ERA, before making single starts for two different teams at the Class A level for the Arizona organization.

Given the nature of Galarraga's non-guaranteed contract — worked out on the eve of the deadline for clubs and players to swap arbitration numbers — there doesn't seem to be a financial component in this trade, like there was when the Tigers sent Dontrelle Willis and his hefty contract to the desert last summer. If Galarraga doesn't make the D-Backs' rotation, the financial hit won't be too extensive, should the club decide to release him.

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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Report: Diamondbacks interested in taking Armando Galarraga off Tigers' hands

While the Winter Caravan and TigerFest are all about pumping fans up about those players who'll be on the field for the Tigers come Opening Day, some of the news evolving near the end of TigerFest was about a player who it's increasingly likely won't be with the Tigers.

Nick Piecoro, the Diamondbacks beat writer for the Arizona Republic tweeted Saturday evening that the club he covers was interested in talking trade with the Tigers for Armando Galarraga. That came after Tigers GM and president Dave Dombrowski told reporters at TigerFest that a deal was "likely" to come this week.

If the D-backs do make a swap for the veteran right-hander, the irony will be that they were the organization willing to take Dontrelle Willis off Dombrowski's hands last summer. The Tigers picked up the vast majority of the $8.5 million they still owed the quirky lefty at the time, swapping him for Billy Buckner, an underwhelming right-hander, a guy they coveted so much that they released him a little over three weeks later.

Unless there's a similar financial element to the Galarraga deal, the Diamondbacks would be assuming the (non-guaranteed) $2.3 million deal the Tigers signed Galarraga to, just hours before designating him for assignment. The Tigers were seemingly trying to avoid the deadline to swap arbitration figures, signing Galarraga to a deal Tuesday morning, then removing him from the 40-man roster to make room for free-agent signee Brad Penny.

Piecoro's blog notes that the name of 20-year-old Kevin Eichhorn has come up. A third-round pick of the Diamondbacks out of high school in the 2008 draft, Eichhorn has never pitched above Class A. The Tigers already have two first-round picks from that draft in their bullpen — former University of Arizona teammates Ryan Perry and Daniel Schlereth, who went 21 and 26 overall to the Tigers and Arizona, respectively.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tigers avoid arbitration with Galarraga, agree to 1-year deal

It appears everyone will get a little bit of what they want in this case.

Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman tweeted late Monday night that the Detroit Tigers had reached an agreement with pitcher Armando Galarraga on a 1-year, $2.3 million deal, avoiding the prospect of an arbitration battle.

For Galarraga, who has an astronomical run of bad luck — dating back to his stolen perfect game on June 2, through his inability to win a game for the remainder of the season (he finished 4-9 with a 4.49 ERA), to the likelihood that last week's signing of Brad Penny for the No. 5 starter role making the just-turned-28-year-old expendable — this was finally a bit of good fortune. After making just $438,000 last year, Galarraga got nearly a $2M raise.

For Tigers president and GM Dave Dombrowski, it's a still clean record of never going to arbitration in his tenure with the franchise. That record was in jeopardy, with the deadline for clubs and arbitration-eligible players to exchange offers looming Tuesday.

Now the two sides will have to figure out what Galarraga's role will be on the 2011 squad. With Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello set in stone atop the starting rotation, and the Tiger brass confident that lefty long reliever Phil Coke — a starter for most of his minor-league career — can make the transition back to starter, it appears that there's only one spot open on the starting staff. The Tigers agreed to terms on a one-year, $3 million contract with Penny last week, and even if the club has the two battle it out for the No. 5 spot, the veteran likely has a better chance, if he's back to his form of two seasons ago.

Galarraga is out of options, so the Tigers can't send him back to the minors, meaning — should he lose the battle for the No. 5 spot with Penny — they'll either have to put him in a long relief role in the bullpen, or see if he's got any value on the trade market.

UPDATE: The Tigers didn't let this one linger long, deciding just hours after officially announcing the deal with Galarraga to designate him for assignment. The organization will now try to trade him to a team looking for a back-of-the-rotation starter.
For the full story, click here.

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