LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) — Left-hander Andrew Chafin and the Tigers finalized a $13 million, two-year contract on Thursday, giving Detroit one of the top relief pitchers on the free agent market.
Chafin gets a $1 million signing bonus, $5.5 million this season and $6.5 million in 2023.
The 31-year-old had a 1.83 ERA with a career-high five saves and 64 strikeouts in 71 games in 2021, splitting the season with the Chicago Cubs and Oakland Athletics. His ERA ranked No. 5 in the majors among relievers and he ranked among baseball’s leaders in opponents’ on-base and slugging percentage and opponents’ slugging percentage.
Chafin has appeared in 311 games since 2017, trailing only Oakland’s Yusmeiro Petit total of 318 games. He was selected by Arizona as a supplemental first round selection with the 43rd overall pick in the 2011 amateur draft. Chafin has a 3.30 ERA over eight seasons with 355 career strikeouts.
The newly acquired reliever joins a new-look team, which includes shortstop Javier Báez and left-hander Eduardo Rodríguez, who will start Friday’s exhibition opener and perhaps Detroit’s opener against the Chicago White Sox on April 8.
Former first round picks Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson were looking forward to Friday’s exhibition opener against Philadelphia. Because they are not on the 40-man roster, they attended last month’s minicamp.
“Physically and emotionally they’re in a good place,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “I think they’re tremendous prospects that are going to have an opportunity to showcase what they can do, and they’ve got the sort of IT factor when it comes to how they fit on the club and how they interact with people. They can handle this pressure.”
Greene, a 21-year-old centerfielder, played 124 games at Double-A and Triple-A last year.
“We were getting our work in during minicamp and I feel that was good for us, just because we could get at-bats,” Greene said. “We were getting our bodies prepared for when spring training actually came. We played some scrimmages too, and it definitely got us more ready.”
Torkelson, a 22-year-old first baseman who was the first overall pick in 2019, played in 121 games at all three minor league levels. If he plays first, Miguel Cabrera likely would be a designated hitter.
“We want Torkelson in the lineup,” Cabrera said with a smile. “I’m here to help, to help everybody here.”
Notes: Eduardo Rodriguez will pitch Friday’s opener, likely for two innings. ... Casey Mize will start Saturday’s game, followed by Tarik Skubal on Sunday, Matt Manning on Monday and Tyler Alexander on Tuesday.