Transaction Blog: Tigers Sign Jim Johnson

The Tigers, still in search of bullpen help, signed former Orioles and Athletics closer right-hander Jim Johnson to a minor league contract.

August 6 10:00 AM

Signed Jim Johnson (RHP) to a minor league contract and will assign to Toledo

Transferred Joe Mantiply (LHP) to Erie from West Michigan

Transferred Brennan Smith (RHP) to Lakeland from Erie

Transferred Ryan Longstreth (LHP) to West Michigan from Lakeland


While the Tigers didn’t make further upgrades to the bullpen via trade by the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, they continue to search for upgrades, and Johnson is the latest reclamation project they’re attempting.

Johnson saved 50 or more games in back-to-back years for Baltimore in 2012 and 2013, before being traded to Oakland this offseason. But Johnson faltered badly for the Athletics, losing his closer job in the first month of the season and eventually being designated for assignment after he couldn’t find his control. His strikeout numbers were down compared to last year, but in line with his career norms, but his walk rate jumped to over five walks per nine innings, making him unsuitable to trot out in high leverage relief situations.

Johnson will first join the Tigers in New York, where Johnson will work with pitching coach Jeff Jones in a couple of bullpen sessions, before he heads to Toledo to make at least a few appearances. Depending on how those go, Johnson could then re-join the Tigers shortly thereafter.

This is the Tigers second attempt to help their bullpen via a minor league free agent contract. Earlier this season, the club signed Joel Hanrahan and he’s been working in Lakeland. However, Hanrahan has not yet found his pre-surgery form, and Dave Dombrowski has stated they do not expect him to contribute to the big league club this year.

Elsewhere on the farm, the Tigers did some pitcher shuffling, including pushing Mantiply up from West Michigan all the way to Erie, the second pitcher to be challenged with a Low-A to Double-A assignment in the past few weeks, after the organization promoted Buck Farmer to the SeaWolves.

For the latest transactions and to discuss them further, make sure to check out the minor league movement thread on the TigsTown Premium Forum: 2014 Signings/Movement Thread

August 1 11:00 AM

Traded Drew Smyly (LHP), Austin Jackson (OF) and Willy Adames (SS) to Tampa Bay Rays and Seattle Mariners for David Price (LHP)

Optioned Ian Krol (LHP) to Toledo

Purchased contract of Ezequiel Carrera (OF) and placed on Detroit’s 25-man roster

Activated Pat McCoy (LHP) from Detroit’s 15-day disabled list

Activated Logan Ehlers (LHP) from Lakeland’s 7-day disabled list

Transferred Domingo Leyba (2B) to West Michigan from Connecticut


Much of the moves need no introduction, as they’re already covered on TigsTown here: Tigers Land David Price and here: Does David Price Trade Open Holes for Tigers?.

In West Michigan, the Tigers will cover for the loss of Adames by shifting Javier Betancourt back over to shortstop, and have promoted Leyba to take the spot at second where Betancourt was. Leyba was hitting .264 with Connecticut.

July 30 8:00 AM

Placed Duane Below (LHP) on Toledo’s 7-day disabled list

Transferred Kyle Ryan (LHP) to Toledo from Erie

Transferred Buck Farmer (RHP) to Erie from West Michigan

Placed Adam Ravenelle (RHP) on West Michigan’s 7-day disabled list with right middle finger tendonitis, retroactive to 7/27

Placed Grayson Greiner (C ) on West Michigan’s 7-day disabled list with a left wrist sprain

Assigned Nate Fury (RHP) to West Michigan from GCL Tigers

Transferred Trent Szkutnik (LHP) to West Michigan from Lakeland

Assigned Arvicent Perez (C ) to West Michigan from GCL Tigers


Some big promotion news, as the Tigers are challenging a pair of prospects that are in the back end of the top 50, bumping Ryan up to Toledo after a strong showing in Erie, and Farmer being challenged by being leapfrogging Lakeland and jumping to Double-A ball.

Ryan posted a 7-10 record with a 4.55 ERA for the ‘Wolves, but had a 2.4 K:BB ratio with 78 strikeouts in 126 2/3 innings of work. Ryan takes the rotation spot filled by Below, who was placed on the disabled list due to what John Wagner of the Toledo Blade described as a “shoulder issue.”

The somewhat surprising move is the promotion of Farmer, who will be challenged after an excellent four months in West Michigan, posting a 2.60 ERA with 116 strikeouts in 103 2/3 innings of work. At 23 years of age, Farmer was a full year older than the rest of the prospects in the West Michigan rotation, making him the logical choice to promote from the Whitecaps. The Flying Tigers were likely passed over as the organization had already plucked Jake Thompson and Josh Turley from the Flying Tigers’ rotation, and the man likely to be next up, Kevin Eichhorn, remains on the DL.

Farmer will join the SeaWolves on the road and make his debut on Friday.

Update: A pair of Whitecaps also hit the disabled list, both recent draft picks. As of now, neither injury is expected to be serious, but the ‘Caps have reinforcements coming in for the interim with Fury and Perez from the GCL, and Szkutnik coming down from Lakeland.

July 28 3:00 PM

Placed Logan Ehlers (LHP) on Lakeland’s 7-day disabled list, retroactive to 7/24

Transferred Tyler Ford (LHP) to GCL Tigers from Lakeland, after assigning him to Lakeland from GCL Tigers

Activated Tyler Clark (RHP) from Lakeland’s 7-day disabled list after placing him on the disabled list on 7/18

Transferred Tanner Bailey (RHP) to Lakeland from GCL Tigers

Transferred Whit Mayberry (RHP) to Lakeland from GCL Tigers

Activated Tyler Gibson (OF) from West Michigan’s 7-day disabled list and transferred to Lakeland

Activated Ryan Longstreth (LHP) from Lakeland’s temporary inactive list after placing him on the list on 7/21

Placed Cole Elam (RHP) on Connecticut’s 7-day disabled list


Lots of movement on the A-ball side of things, as a number of players have been activated from a list or transferred between A-ball rosters over the past few days.

Among the notables, Gibson was activated from the disabled list after his rehab stint with the GCL and sent to Lakeland, while another recent draft pick in Mayberry got a full season assignment with the Flying Tigers as well.

July 24 1:00 PM

Traded Corey Knebel (RHP) and Jake Thompson (RHP) to Texas Rangers in exchange for Joakim Soria (RHP)

Transferred Brennan Smith (RHP) to Erie from Lakeland

Transferred Kenny Faulk (LHP) to Toledo from Erie

Transferred Darryl Norris (RHP) to GCL Tigers from Lakeland, after assigning him to Lakeland on 7/21

Assigned Ismael Salgado (OF) to Lakeland from GCL Tigers

Placed Charlie Gillies (RHP) on Lakeland’s 7-day disabled list

Transferred Scott Sitz (RHP) to Lakeland from Connecticut

Transferred Nate Fury (RHP) to GCL Tigers from Lakeland


For complete analysis on the Soria trade, read the full analysis of the deal here: Soria Price Steep, But Had to be Done

July 19 12:00 PM

Optioned Drew VerHagen (RHP) to Toledo

Optioned Chad Smith (RHP) to Toledo

Recalled Corey Knebel (RHP) from Toledo

Purchased contract of Drew VerHagen (RHP) and placed on Detroit’s 25-man roster

Transferred Joel Hanrahan (RHP) from 15-day disabled list to 60-day disabled list


VerHagen was up just for the day for the Tigers, heading back down after the doubleheader where he started game one, pitching well for the Tigers, allowing three runs over five innings of work. The Tigers made a more permanent swap, bringing Knebel back up and sending Smith back down as the Tigers continue to scramble to identify a few consistently reliable bullpen arms.

Smith pitched adequately for the Tigers after being rushed up from starting the year in Erie, posting a 5.40 ERA over ten appearances.

Knebel posted a 1.23 ERA over five appearances for Toledo in July, with seven strikeouts and three walks as he works to try and refine his command to make his devastating breaking ball more effective at the big league level.

July 19 10:00 AM

Transferred Daniel Fields (OF) to Toledo from Erie

Released Ronny Paulino (C )

Released Trevor Crowe (OF)

Transferred Scott Sitz (RHP) to Connecticut from Toledo, after being transferred to Toledo from West Michigan

Transferred Alex Burgos (LHP) to Lakeland from Toledo, after being transferred to Toledo from Erie

Activated Wilsen Palacios (RHP) from Erie’s temporary inactive list

Activated Aaron Westlake (1B) from Erie’s 7-day disabled list

Placed Bryan Augenstein (RHP) on Erie’s temporary inactive list

Placed Kevin Eichhorn (RHP) on Lakeland’s 7-day disabled list, retroactive to 7/17

Transferred Charlie Gillies (RHP) to Lakeland from West Michigan, after activating him from West Michigan’s 7-day disabled list

Assigned Artie Lewicki (RHP) to West Michigan from GCL Tigers

Assigned Adam Ravenelle (RHP) to West Michigan from GCL Tigers

Transferred Will LaMarche (RHP) to Connecticut from West Michigan


Catching up on a number of minor league transactions, the biggest two being a pair of recent draft picks, Lewicki and Ravenelle, being assigned to full-season ball with West Michigan. Both are experienced college arms, and can likely handle the challenge that the Midwest League will present.

Other moves of note include moving Fields back up to Toledo after a brief stint in Erie, and releasing a pair of veterans in Toledo in Crowe and Paulino.

July 14 11:00 PM

Transferred Jake Thompson (RHP) to Erie from Lakeland

Transferred Josh Turley (LHP) to Erie from Lakeland

Transferred Tommy Collier (RHP) to Lakeland from Erie


Big news down on the farm, as the Tigers bump a pair of starting pitchers from the Lakeland rotation up to Erie in Thompson and Turley. The performance of both has left little question about each’s ability to compete against High-A batters, as both have consistently dominated their opposition. The move is especially aggressive for Thompson, who is just 20 years old but has quickly vaulted himself near the top of the “next up” list when it comes to starting pitchers in Detroit.

There will have to be one additional roster move in Erie to get the roster down to the limit, stay tuned for that corresponding move

July 11 12:00 PM

Placed Wilsen Palacios (RHP) on Erie’s temporary inactive list to attend to a family matter at home

Transferred Alex Burgos (LHP) to Erie from Lakeland

Activated Edgar de la Rosa (RHP) from Lakeland’s 7-day disabled list

Assigned Trent Szkutnik (LHP) to Lakeland from GCL Tigers

July 8 1:00 PM

Activated Daniel Fields (OF) from Toledo’s 7-day disabled list and transferred to Erie

Placed Aaron Westlake (1B) on Erie’s 7-day disabled list with a concussion

Placed Edgar de la Rosa (RHP) on Lakeland’s 7-day disabled list with a blister on his throwing hand, retroactive to 7/4

Assigned Kenton St. John (LHP) to Lakeland from GCL Tigers

Transferred Micah Kellogg (RHP) to GCL Tigers from Connecticut

Transferred Orvin Tovar (OF) to GCL Tigers from Connecticut

Assigned Josh Laxer (RHP) to Connecticut from GCL Tigers


With his broken hand healed and a quick rehab stint in the GCL complete, Fields is ready to return to full-time action, however, he’ll be doing so in Erie rather than Toledo, which is where he spent the first two months of the season prior to hitting the disabled list. According to Tom Reisenweber of the Erie Times-News, the move is intended to be temporary, which makes sense. The ‘Wolves lost Westlake to a concussion, and are about to lose Steven Moya for a handful of days to the Futures Game. It also prevents having to make a larger roster move to open up a spot in Toledo.

De la Rosa meanwhile hits the DL again with a blister issue. It’s obviously better than a variety of alternatives, but multiple blister issues in the span of just a few months can also be cause for concern as well.

July 6 10:00 AM

Activated Ian Korl (LHP) from Detroit’s 15-day disabled list

Placed Pat McCoy (LHP) on Detroit’s 15-day disabled list with a right hamstring strain

Activated Warwick Saupold (RHP) from Erie’s 7-day disabled list

Nick Avila (RHP) retired


After a brief rehab stint with West Michigan, Krol returns to the Tigers’ bullpen to fill the role of the main left-hander on the club. McCoy, along with Blaine Hardy and Phil Coke had all been getting looks later in games, but Krol is clearly the guy the Tigers trust most when the late innings come around.

The other news of the day is that Avila, the nephew of Tigers assistant general manager Al Avila, will retire from the game and look to become a scout. Avila had a 6.15 ERA in 16 appearances for the SeaWolves. Recommended Stories

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