13 July 2012
The Detroit Tigers made a roster move yesterday that involved assigning reliever Darin Downs to the Toledo Mud Hens. He no longer appears on the team’s 40-man roster, so that means he would have had to clear waivers for the team to retain him and send him to the minor leagues.
The move frees up a second spot on the active roster. I had initial thought that Danny Worth would be recalled (and Downs retained after his outstanding performance last week), but that appears to not be the case anymore. Second best odds appeared to be with Worth and relief pitcher Luis Marte returning to the big leagues – and this is probably the most likely scenario still – but it no longer has to be. Downs, a 27 year old who’d been in professional baseball since he was a teenager, was likely out of options* so removing him from the 40-man roster after placing him on waivers would have been the only way to keep him in the system.
*Option year info isn’t published publicly anywhere that I know of, so it can be difficult to determine on the fly.
My first question about this is why? Why do you call up an emergency pitcher for six games that isn’t already on the 40-man roster if you know you’re going to immediately burn him? I guess that’s why he’s in the system, but the team probably could have called up Luke Putkonen, Thad Weber, or even Adam Wilk (guys already on the 40-man with option years remaining) if they didn’t want to risk losing a player. It all worked out for the best though. Downs was fantastic in his 4.1 innings of work (seven strikeouts, one hit, and one walk), and the club still gets to keep him in the minor leagues.It would seem strange to automatically oust Downs, who’s been fantastic all year in AAA and so good in his Tigers debut, for Marte who, besides having a pretty good ERA, hasn’t really set the world on fire with his peripheral numbers in Detroit. As I’ve said this could really be the case, but the extra spot on the 40-man roster means the organization isn’t forced to go this route.
Here are three additional non-40-man possibilities for the immediate to not-so-distant future:
Ben Guez, OF: Guez is a guy that’s not often considered along with the prospects in the system but, like Andy Dirks, he could turn into an adequate third-fourth-fifth outfielder in the big leagues. His minor league numbers show good on-base skill (.348 minor league career OBP), and some decent extra base power. He likely wouldn’t bring a ton of pop to a big league lineup.
Nick Castellanos, 3B/OF: It freaks me out a lot that I’m even typing this, but it’s hard for me to explain why the organization would have him play in the outfield if they’re not contemplating calling him up sooner rather than later. I would rather them wait at least until next spring to give him his first shot (I don’t like his K/BB ratio in AA so far), but he’s definitely the “next big thing” as far as Tigers hitters go. I just hope they don’t abandon the third base thing right now because he brings a lot more value to 2015 and beyond at the hot corner than he would in the outfield.
Bruce Rondon, RP: This is another very unlikely scenario. Rondon is probably the top relief/future closer prospect in the system, and he’s been lights out this year. Like Castellanos, he was only recently promoted to Erie (from Lakeland). He’s pitched well at both levels, but I have a hard time seeing him make the big jump to the bigs right now. He still needs to work on his control, and the Tigers bullpen has been quite good for the better part of two months; it doesn’t seem like they would need to rush a prospect there.
Matt Snyder is the editor of The Tigers Den. He can be reached on Twitter @snyder_matthew.