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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.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Tigers' lone non-tender is Schlereth

The Tigers confirmed Friday afternoon — the deadline for offering contract to arbitration-eligible players — that they would tender contracts to all of the unsigned players on their 40-man roster, with the exception of one.

Daniel Schlereth, who would not have been eligible for arbitration until after next season, was not tendered a contract, the team announced, and becomes a free agent.

The Tigers went into the offseason with an inordinate number of players headed to arbitration, but two of them — Don Kelly and Ryan Raburn — had already been taken out of the equation. That leaves Alex Avila, Brennan Boesch, Phil Coke, Doug Fister, Austin Jackson, Rick Porcello and Max Scherzer as players who will head toward arbitration.

“We have more arbitration-eligible players this year, than what we’ve had," Tigers president and GM Dave Dombrowski said in his press conference at the start of the offseason. "There’s some significant guys that fit that category, and that will take up a significant amount of dollars for us.”

It seemed pretty certain that the Tigers would keep the majority of the remaining players on that list around, considering how integral they will be to the construction of the team going forward. The lone exception might be Boesch who, along with Porcello, has been the subject of trade rumors as the offseason picks up momentum headed into next week's winter meetings.

Dombrowski said at the start of the offseason that the organization still had faith in Boesch, who struggled mightily in 2012, even if there was no guarantee he'd have much of a role in 2013.

"We'll tender him a contract," the GM said at the time. “I think in (his) case that he still has ability. He still hit the ball out of the ballpark. We still see some untapped potential. He has struggled some. He hasn’t made the strides we’d like him to make. However, sometimes power hitters take longer to come about, too. But I cannot look and tell you he’s a given, that one of those corner outfield spots are his at this time. That’s something he’d have to earn, by all means. But that doesn’t mean you’d non-tender him because I think he has value as a player.”

Rumors persisted in recent weeks that the team might not give him a contract, however.

Schlereth was a different story.

The 26-year-old former first-round pick of the Diamondbacks, acquired as part of the Curtis Granderson-Jackson-Scherzer trade, was with the team headed out of spring training in 2012. But he allowed eight earned runs and three homers in six appearances, posting a 10.29 ERA before being sent to Triple-A Toledo. Once there, it was determined he'd been pitching through shoulder tendinitis, and he was retroactively put on the disabled list. 

He'd spent most of the season on the shelf rehabilitating, but was not added when the Tigers roster expanded in September, despite having gone through a rehab stint in the minors. 

Many of Schlereth's career highlights with the Tigers are not the sort with which a pitcher would wish to be associated. He gave up noted Tiger-killer Jim Thome's 600th career home run on Aug. 15, 2011. Less than two months earlier, the Mets hadn't hit a grand slam in 299 games before they hit two off Schlereth within the span of two-thirds of an inning on June 28. 


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