The Tigers have designated a right-hander Michael Pineda for assignment, Cody Stavenhagen of The Athletic was one of those to report. His roster spot goes to reliever Luis Castillo.
Pineda, 33, is a veteran who made his MLB debut with the Mariners in 2011 and has pitched for the Yankees and Twins ever since. He joined the Tigers this season on a one-year deal with a $5.5 million guarantee and innings pitched rewards.
At the time it was certainly hoped that Pineda would be a reliable veteran in a rotation with many talented but inexperienced youngsters. In the end, just about every pitcher who started a game for the Tigers was on the injured list for some time this year, with Pineda no exception. He went to the IL in May because of a right middle finger fracture, which took him about six weeks. In late July, he returned to the IL due to right triceps tightness, which kept him out for another five weeks.
Between those IL stints, he was able to make only 11 starts and throw 46 2/3 innings. He hasn’t been very effective either, with his 5.79 ERA almost a full run above his previous career high of 4.82. His 13% strikeout rate is easily the worst of his career, although his control is still there, with his 4% run rate about half the league average for starters.
The Tigers are pretty much done with it and will be using the final weeks of the season to audition youngsters for roles on future teams. “I hate it for Michael,” manager AJ Hinch told Stavenhagen. “There is nothing worse than telling a veteran of his size and his career that we are leaving him. But for us it’s time to look at the guys who have a better chance of being here.”
There may also be a financial reason for the move, as Pineda was about to meet the incentives in his contract. He would have received $375K for hitting each of the 50, 75, 100 and 125 innings benchmarks, and he would have received an additional $500K for throwing 150 and 175 innings. Given that he currently has 46 2/3 frames per year, he would probably have made an additional $375K on his next start. Instead, he’ll be getting waivers over the next few days, likely indemnities, given the roughly $800K still on his deal. Assuming he makes it clear, he’d be able to turn down an outright assignment in favor of choosing a free choice, as he has more than five years of MLB service.