Tigers sign Robbie Grossman to 2-year, $10 million contract

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DETROIT — The Detroit Tigers signed outfielder Robbie Grossman to a $10 million, two-year contract, adding a switch-hitting veteran to a rebuilding team coming off consecutive last-place finishes.

The deal includes performance bonuses. The 31-year-old Grossman spent the past two seasons with the Oakland Athletics. He hit .241 with eight home runs and 23 RBIs in 51 games in the shortened 2020 season.

“I’ve been fortunate to play for some great franchises during my career, and I couldn’t be happier to add the Tigers to that list,” Grossman said. “I’ve been in Detroit a number of times as a visiting player, and know how passionate the city and its fans are for Tigers baseball. I’m very excited to get to work with my coaches and teammates, and help bring winning baseball back to the Motor City.”

The deal includes $250,000 bonuses for 500 and 550 plate appearances in each year.

Prior to his stint with the A’s, Grossman played for Minnesota and Houston. His .826 OPS last season was just two points shy of his career high in 2016. He also set a career high with 11 homers in that 2016 season with the Twins, although he’d have had a good chance to break that if last year had been a full season.

“Robbie is a proven major league hitter and will bring consistent, competitive at-bats to our lineup,” Detroit general manager Al Avila said. “His name quickly came up when our front office began planning potential offseason additions, and all of us are looking forward to having his veteran presence both on the field and in the clubhouse.”

The Tigers have largely stuck to smaller deals in free agency during their rebuild. Detroit hasn’t made the postseason since 2014.

In a corresponding move, the Tigers designated outfielder Troy Stokes Jr. for assignment.

Brown hired as general manager of Houston Astros

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HOUSTON — In joining the World Series champion Houston Astros, new general manager Dana Brown’s goal is to keep the team at the top of the league.

“I’m coming to a winning team and a big part of what I want to do is sustain the winning long term,” he said. “We want to continue to build, continue to sign good players, continue to develop players and continue the winning success.”

Brown was hired by the Astros on Thursday, replacing James Click, who was not given a new contract and parted ways with the Astros just days after they won the World Series.

Brown spent the last four seasons as the vice president of scouting for the Atlanta Braves.

“He is very analytic savvy,” Astros’ owner Jim Crane said. “He’s a great talent evaluator based upon what we’ve seen at the Braves, seasoned at player acquisitions, seasoned at player development and retention. They were often able to extend some of their player contracts… he’s got great people skills, excellent communicator and, last but not least, he’s a baseball player and knows baseball in and out and we were very impressed with that.”

The 55-year-old Brown becomes the only Black general manager in the majors and joins manager Dusty Baker to form just the second pairing of a Black manager and general manager in MLB history. The first was general manager Ken Williams and manager Jerry Manuel with the White Sox.

Brown said he interviewed for GM jobs with the Mets and Mariners in the past and that MLB commissioner Rob Manfred told him to stay positive and that his time to be a general manager would come.

“It’s pretty special,” he said. “We understand that there are a lot of qualified African Americans in the game that know baseball and that could be a big part of an organization and leading organization in baseball operations. So at the end of the day, I think it’s good for our sport to have diversity and I’m really excited for this opportunity.”

Crane was asked about having the league’s only Black general manager.

“Certainly, we are very focused on diversity with the Astros,” he said. “It’s a plus, but the guy’s extremely qualified and he’ll do a great job. It’s nice to see a man like Dana get the job and he earned the job. He’s got the qualifications. He’s ready to go.”

Brown doesn’t have a lot of connections to the Astros, but does have some ties. He played baseball at Seton Hall with Hall of Famer Craig Biggio, who spent his entire career with the Astros and serves as special assistant to the general manager. He played against fellow Hall of Famer and special assistant to the general manager Jeff Bagwell in the Cape Cod league during a short minor league career.

Brown said he spoke to both of them before taking the job and also chatted with Baker, whom he’s know for some time.

“Dusty is old school, he cuts it straight and I like it,” Brown said. “And so that means I can cut it straight with him.”

Brown worked for the Blue Jays from 2010-18 as a special assistant to the general manager. From 2001-09 he worked as director of scouting for the Nationals/Expos. He began his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he spent eight years as their area scouting supervisor and East coast cross checker.

Click had served as Houston’s general manager since joining the team before the 2020 season from the Tampa Bay Rays.

Brown, who has been part of drafting a number of big-name players like Stephen Strasburg, Ryan Zimmerman and last season’s National League rookie of the year Michael Harris, is ready to show Crane that bringing him to Houston was the right choice.

“Baseball is all I know, it’s my entire life,” he said. “So I want to empty myself into this city, the Astro fans and let Jim Crane know that he made a special pick.”