Earlier, D.J. Short wondered if the Tigers would make a play for free agent Stephen Drew after it was reported that shortstop Jose Iglesias would begin the season on the disabled list with shin splints. It may be worse than the Tigers expected. ESPN’s Jim Bowden is reporting that Iglesias could miss most of the 2014 season. As a result, they indeed will be expected to pursue Drew.
The Tigers acquired Iglesias from the Red Sox in a three-team trade at the end of July which also involved the White Sox. In 148 plate appearances, he posted a meager .654 OPS but did provide above-average work with the glove. If the Tigers don’t wind up with Drew, Hernan Perez would be on track to be the club’s Opening Day shortstop.
The Tampa Bay Rays have signed lefty swingman Ryan Merritt to a minor league contract. Nah, it’s not a big signing but we’ll take anything today.
Merritt, who has spent his entire career in the Indians organization, spent the entire 2018 season at Triple-A Columbus. It wasn’t a bad year for him — he posted a 3.79 ERA and a 52/2 K/BB ratio in 13 starts and two relief appearances covering 71.1 innings — but the Tribe just couldn’t find a role for him at the big league level. He has shown in the past, however, that he can hack it in the bigs, having posted a 1.71 ERA in 31.2 innings with the Indians between 2016-2017.
His thing is that he simply doesn’t strike guys out at anything approaching a typical clip for a big leaguer: 3.7 per nine innings in his small sample of major league outings and 6.3 Ks per nine innings in the minors. Which, while it may not prevent him from having success at the big league level, is likely a reason for the limited number of chances he’s been given.
The Rays are probably the best place he could go, frankly. They’ve shown themselves willing to utilize guys in unique ways and are more likely than most teams to find places to spot a lefty control specialist who has shown he can both start and come out of the pen.