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#pounditMonday, March 4, 2024

Tigers in heavy pursuit of ex-Cy Young finalist?

A Detroit Tigers hat

Mar 30, 2019; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; The hat and glove of a Detroit Tigers player before a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Tigers appear to be locked in on one particular veteran arm.

Jon Morosi of MLB Network reported Friday that the Tigers’ pursuit of free-agent righty Kenta Maeda has intensified in recent days. Morosi notes that previous reports had stated that Detroit has “serious interest” in Maeda this MLB offseason.

Maeda, 35, was a Cy Young finalist for the Minnesota Twins in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season (going 6-1 with a 2.70 ERA with 80 strikeouts in 11 starts). Last season for the Twins, he went 6-8 with a 4.23 ERA with 117 strikeouts in 20 starts.

At this point though, Maeda has a lot of tread on his tires. He pitched for almost a decade in Japan before joining MLB in 2016 and also now has a 2021 Tommy John surgery under his belt. But Maeda still has good swing-and-miss stuff and an ability to eat innings as a reliable mid-rotation starter. That could prove useful for the Tigers, who sold off some pitching talent at last season’s trade deadline.

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