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#pounditFriday, January 21, 2022

Articles tagged: Detroit Tigers

Tigers first base coach Kimera Bartee dies unexpectedly

Kimera Bartee coaches for the Pirates

The baseball community is mourning an unexpected loss, as Detroit Tigers first base coach Kimera Bartee has died.

The Tigers announced the sad news on Tuesday that Bartee has died at age 49. General manager Al Avila said the entire organization is “shocked and saddened.”

“All of us in the Tigers baseball family were shocked and saddened,” Avila said in a statement, via the Detroit Free Press. “Throughout his time in our organization as both a player and a coach, Kimera was known as a kind soul but intense competitor who did his best every day to elevate those around him to do great things. While Tigers fans got used to seeing him in the first base coach’s box, Kimera’s impact on our ballclub went far deeper and will be sorely missed.”

The cause of death for Bartee is unknown. The Tigers were not aware of him having any illness.

Bartee, a former outfielder, played four seasons for the Tigers from 1996-1999. He spent the final two seasons of his career with the Cincinnati Reds and Colorado Rockies. Bartee batted .216 with four home runs and 33 RBI in 243 career games.

Bartee spent the 2021 season as Detroit’s first base coach after coaching for three different MLB teams prior to that. He was with the Pittsburgh Pirates as a coach from 2008-2019.

Photo: Aug 12, 2019; Anaheim, CA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates first base coach Kimera Bartee (18) during the game against the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. The Pirates defeated the Angels 10-2. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Javier Baez signs 6-year deal with Tigers

Javier Baez makes throw

The Detroit Tigers have made a major upgrade to their lineup.

Javier Baez has agreed to a 6-year, $140 million deal with the Tigers, according to multiple reports. The shortstop has the ability to opt out after two years and also got a limited no-trade clause.

Baez was considered one of the best players on the free agent market. He’s coming off a 31-homer season and batted .299 in 47 games with the New York Mets after coming over from the Chicago Cubs last season. The Mets were said to be interested in re-signing him. Detroit also may have kept Baez away from one other top American League team.

The Baez deal takes one suitor off the table for Carlos Correa, who is said to be seeking upwards of $300 million. The former Houston Astros star may have a difficult time getting that much, though he could argue that the market was set when Corey Seager signed his monster deal with the Texas Rangers.

Photo: Aug 2, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA; New York Mets shortstop Javier Baez (23) throws out Miami Marlins left fielder Jorge Alfaro (not pictured) in the 2nd inning at loanDepot park. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Javier Baez drawing significant interest from 3 teams

Javier Baez thumbs down

With only a handful of days remaining before the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement, MLB free agency is heating up. It certainly sounds like one big name could be poised to sign soon.

Shortstop Javier Baez, one of the better players at the position on the market, is being heavily linked to multiple teams on Friday. Multiple reports suggested that Baez was in talks with the Detroit Tigers, but nothing has been finalized.

MLB Network’s Jon Heyman added that the Boston Red Sox and New York Mets are also suitors for Baez. The Mets could even have the chance to beat any offer Baez receives, adds Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.

Baez is known for his flashy play, and he is coming off a 31-homer season with the Cubs and Mets. If the Mets do bring him back, there could be some awkwardness given his relationship with the team’s fans. The Tigers’ interest in Baez is also bad news for another key free agent shortstop.

Carlos Correa may lose interest from 1 team for key reason

Carlos Correa

There appears to be plenty of interest in free agent shortstop Carlos Correa, but another team may be hesitant to pursue him for one major reason.

Correa is expected to seek upwards of $300 million in free agency, and that price tag is proving to be a bit much for some teams. That includes the Detroit Tigers, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman. The Tigers “love” Correa but are reluctant to offer that sort of contract due to their array of needs.

The Tigers would make for a good fit for Correa. They need a shortstop and are managed by former Astros skipper A.J. Hinch, and that connection has already fueled rumors. However, if Correa’s price tag remains high, the Tigers may just look elsewhere.

Correa should be popular even if the Tigers are reluctant to pursue him at his current price. However, it may concern him that some other teams appear to have the same issue.

Photo: Aug 4, 2020; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Carlos Correa’s notable meeting sparks free agency rumors

Carlos Correa

Carlos Correa is perhaps the hottest name on the free agent market, which means his every move is being watched by fans and baseball figures alike. On Thursday, Correa had one particularly notable meeting that sent some into a frenzy.

The star free agent shortstop was spotted in Houston on Thursday having lunch with Detroit Tigers manager A.J. Hinch. It’s no secret that the Tigers plan to be aggressive in free agency, and are also in need of a shortstop.

It’s worth noting that Correa played for Hinch in Houston, so it’s not as if this is out of the blue. ESPN’s Jeff Passan did confirm that the pair had breakfast, and talked so much they stayed until lunch. Passan did make clear, however, that no deal is imminent between Correa and the Tigers.

That said, it makes sense for there to be mutual interest here. Beyond the preexisting tie between Hinch and Correa, the shortstop has signaled his willingness to join a rebuilding team.

On the other hand, Correa has sent some hints about other potential places of interest. It looks like it might be a while before he comes to a decision.

Photo: Aug 4, 2020; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Miguel Cabrera has message for ex-teammate Justin Verlander

Justin Verlander

After five seasons apart, might the Detroit Tigers and pitcher Justin Verlander be headed for a reunion? If Miguel Cabrera had his way, they certainly would.

Cabrera, who’s been with the Tigers since 2008, recently popped up on Verlander’s Instagram account with an unmistakable message: Come back home.

Detroit sent Verlander to the Houston Astros with just seconds remaining before the waiver trade deadline in 2017. He went on to win a World Series that season and has since made two All-Star appearances. In 2019, he also led the league in wins.

With those accomplishments out of the way, the 38-year-old Verlander has nothing holding him back. Of course, he did miss the entire 2021 season after undergoing Tommy John Surgery, so perhaps the Tigers themselves would be hesitant.

There’s also a potential hiccup when it comes to salary, but Detroit is on record as saying they intend to spend big. How much they’d be willing to shell out for an aging pitcher remains to be seen, however.

Meanwhile, the Astros have also expressed a public interest in having Verlander return in 2022. But there may be a fracture in Houston after Verlanded suggested the team wouldn’t let him rehab at their facilities.

The market for Verlander will be interesting and will likely hinge on his recovery and health. But don’t rule out a return to Detroit.

H/T: The Detroit News

Detroit Tigers’ Twitter brings up infamous Cowboys-Lions playoff game

Lions Cowboys pass interference

The Detroit Tigers on Monday enjoyed a rare blowout victory. The team’s official Twitter account had a little fun with the situation.

The 44-51 Tigers blew out the Rangers 14-0, outhitting Texas 19-4. The Tigers’ Twitter account made a joke that the lopsided figures represented a football score.

Well, a tweet about the Lions and Cowboys is a sore subject for Detroit fans, of course. The follow-up tweet made note of the pass interference call the refs undid in the January 2015 NFC Wild Card game between the Cowboys and Lions.

Boy, did the refs botch that one. The missed call helped give the ball to the Cowboys, who then scored and won the game. The Lions ended up losing a game they had in control and haven’t won a playoff game since 1991.

You just can’t mention the Lions and Cowboys without noting that game and the penalty that cost Detroit so dearly.

Justin Verlander admits he has thought about returning to Tigers

Justin Verlander

While Justin Verlander won his World Series title with the Houston Astros, pretty much all his other career milestones came with the Detroit Tigers. The star pitcher threw two no-hitters for Detroit and won his MVP award there, as well as his first of two Cy Young Awards.

Verlander is out for the 2021 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but is set to become a free agent after the season ahead of his anticipated return to the mound in 2022. Where that return will be is an open question, but Verlander admitted Sunday that it could be with the Tigers.

“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about it,” Verlander told Evan Petzold of the Detroit Free Press when asked if he considered returning to Detroit. “Yeah, of course. I loved playing there. I love the city. I love the fans. Yes, I do think about it. Ultimately, the decision comes down to what’s best for my career. If that aligns with that possibility, then maybe it does.

“It’s a city that means a lot to me and I grew up in front of and had a lot of accomplishments there. So yeah, of course I do.”

Verlander will want to try and land with a winner if he can, and the Tigers aren’t there yet. After contending for much of Verlander’s time in Detroit, the team hasn’t had a winning season since 2016, and remains in the middle of an extended rebuild. That reality may not align with Verlander’s personal goals right now.

On the other hand, the Tigers have some talented young starters that they would love to have Verlander mentor. It’s too early for Verlander to decide, but the door is definitely open.

Umpire Vic Carapazza had a strange night calling Tigers-Yankees game

Vic Carapazza strike

Home plate umpire Vic Carapazza had a bizarre night Friday when the New York Yankees took on the Detroit Tigers.

In the sixth inning, Carapazza seemingly lost track of the count when Yankees infielder Gio Urshela took a 2-2 pitch off the plate. Urshela, who had fouled off several previous pitches, dropped his bat and went down to first on what was only ball three, but nobody seemed to notice or object.

Frankly, the blame for this falls on the Tigers as much as anyone. Someone in the dugout should have noticed and said something, but no one did. Ultimately, the Yankees failed to score in the inning, so the miss didn’t really cost the Tigers.

Carapazza created another talking point in the tenth inning after the Yankees had gone ahead 2-1. With a runner at third and a 2-2 count, Tigers outfielder Robbie Grossman took a borderline pitch from Yankees pitcher Justin Wilson. Had it been called a strike, it would have ended the game. Instead, Grossman stayed alive and hit a walk-off home run on the next pitch, leaving the Yankees fuming.

Talk about a bizarre night for Carapazza. The Yankees certainly won’t be feeling good about how this one ended, and understandably so.

Tigers GM says AJ Hinch was ‘remorseful’ over Astros cheating

AJ Hinch

The Detroit Tigers announced on Friday that they have hired A.J. Hinch to be their next manager, and the move has obviously come with some criticism. Both Hinch and the team tried to address that.

Tigers general manager Al Avila said the team spoke with Hinch about his role in the Houston Astros’ cheating scandal, and Hinch was “remorseful.”

Hinch also spoke about the sign-stealing scheme and being suspended for the entire 2020 season. He said his focus going forward is on “integrity and honesty.”

Former Astros bench coach and Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora was painted as one of the masterminds behind the Astros’ cheating scandal. Hinch knew about the cheating and reportedly made it clear that he disapproved of it, though he did nothing to stop it. The Tigers obviously felt that the year-long suspension was punishment enough and trust that Hinch’s winning track record is not a result of the cheating.

Hinch has a record of 481-329 as a manager. He went to two World Series with the Astros and won one.