In a rather surprising move Wednesday morning, the Detroit Tigers unconditionally released outfielder Brennan Boesch.
Chris Iott of Mlive.com reports that the move came after general manager Dave Dombrowski spent the last few days talking with several teams about a potential trade. However, no team wanted to give the Tigers what they needed in return for the 27-year-old outfielder.
Iott also mentions that Wednesday is the last day that players can be released at one-sixth of their 2013 salary level. After an original agreement avoiding arbitration at $2.3 million, Iott says that the Tigers will only be responsible for around $400,000.
Fifth in the American League Rookie of the Year voting in 2010, Boesch had played himself out of the starting lineup before the playoffs last year. The right fielder saw his batting average drop from a 2011 mark of .283 to a career-low level of .240 last season.
Boesch also saw his on-base percentage plunge to .286, another career low. His walk totals went from 40 during his rookie year to 26 last year, while his strikeout numbers hit an all-time high of 104.
Most telling—with the team that lacked run production at times, as it struggled to win the AL Central— is that Boesch’s OPS+ was 77. That is 23 percent less than the average hitter in the AL.
Boesch didn't show any signs of an offensive revival this spring. In the first 19 games, Boesch appeared in seven, going 3-for-16 at the plate. While not the worst numbers put up by a Tiger outfielder this spring, the play of Jeff Kobernus and Nick Castellanos was enough to tell Dombrowski that Boesch was expendable.
The other fortuitous decision with his outright release is that Boesch still had minor-league options. He could have been sent down without subjecting him to waivers.
However, the Tigers did not feel that he was going to be in their plans again. They apparently felt so strident about that, that they refused to stash him in Triple-A Toledo even with his cheap price tag.
Boesch is free to sign with anyone he wishes. With no repercussions for any other team that wishes to pick him up, he shouldn't be out of work for very long, although he will most likely take a pay cut.
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