The Tigers are going to go with Bruce Rondon as their closer

4 Comments

Many of you are saying “who is Bruce Rondon?”  The most relevant answer to that question for you is that he’s the reason why the Tigers aren’t, according to Danny Knobler, going to be players for Rafael Soriano or any other established closer types:

 

Hard-throwing is right. He’s a big old hoss of a dude who strikes out a lot of guys. He pitched at three different levels last year, striking out 66 in 53 innings. He walks a fair number of guys, but he’s trending in a better direction with that.

A poor-man’s Craig Kimbrel?  The comp is crazy on the surface due to Kimbrel’s dominance in the bigs, but there were questions about calling him up and handing him a job too due to concerns about his control.  Rondon doesn’t strike out nearly as many guys per nine as Kimbrel did in the minors, thus the “poor-man’s” part of it, but Kimbrel walked more dudes.

The point, though, isn’t that Rondon be anything close to Kimbrel. The point is that he’s cheap and team controlled and is likely to be way better than Jose Valverde, and if we’ve learned anything over the past few years, it’s that going big on free agent closers is a sucker’s game.  If I’m Detroit I hand Rondon the ball to see if he can do it. If that doesn’t work, try something else. They won the pennant with Valverde basically on the bench, so they can make it through a couple months of the season that way too.

Tigers sign Edwin Espinal to minor league deal

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Free agent first baseman Edwin Espinal has signed a minor league deal with the Tigers, the infielder announced Saturday. The move has yet to be confirmed by the team.

Espinal, 23, capped a seven-year run with the Pirates’ minor league affiliates in 2017. He split his season between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis, batting a cumulative .294/.327/.447 with 15 home runs and 31 doubles in 532 plate appearances. While he’s raked at nearly every level so far, he also profiles well on defense, and rounded off his 2017 performance with a perfect fielding percentage, 208 putouts and a Gold Glove award.

Espinal is untested at the major league level and it’s not yet clear if he’ll make the jump in 2018. He showed some positional versatility during his time in the minors, however, and could take reps at third base or DH if necessary. The Tigers are reportedly on the lookout for pitching depth and left-handed bats — two bills the right-handed Espinal doesn’t fit — and presumably have a lot of moves left to make this winter.