Detroit’s impressive bullpen depth will be put to the test, as Al Alburquerque is expected to miss the first half of the season after undergoing elbow surgery.
James Jahnke of the Detroit Free Press reports that Alburquerque “had a screw inserted into his olecranon to stabilize a non-displaced stress fracture in his right elbow” and won’t be cleared to begin throwing for at least 12 weeks.
Alburquerque had an amazing rookie season for the Tigers, posting a 1.87 ERA and 67 strikeouts in 43 innings while holding opponents to a .142 batting average, but had a couple rough appearances in the playoffs after which he wasn’t used much in high-leverage spots.
Octavio Dotel, who was signed to a one-year deal last week, will likely slide into Alburquerque’s old role and combine with Joaquin Benoit to set up closer Jose Valverde.
The Braves have signed reliever Blaine Boyer to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. Bowman adds that the right-hander has a “good chance” to make the Braves’ bullpen out of spring training.
Boyer, 35, spent the past season with the Brewers, finishing with a 3.95 ERA and a 26/17 K/BB ratio in 66 innings.
Boyer, of course, started his professional baseball career with the Braves as they selected him in the third round of the 2000 draft. Since the Braves traded him in 2009, Boyer has pitched for the Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Mets, Padres, and Twins along with the Brewers.
Update (6:48 PM EST): Topkin reports the contract will be of the major league variety.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays and free agent reliever Shawn Tolleson are close to finalizing a contract.
Tolleson, who turns 29 years old on Thursday, had an ugly 2016 season, finishing with a 7.68 ERA and a 29/10 K/BB ratio in 36 1/3 innings. He was one of the Rangers’ best relievers in the two seasons prior to that, however, which included saving 35 games in 2015.