The Detroit Tigers announced Thursday night that they have agreed to a deal with starting pitcher Mike Fiers. Pending a physical, the deal would be worth over six million according over one year according to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick.
This was not the only contract that was offered to Fiers. He apparently turned down a two-year offer from the Baltimore Orioles to sign with the Tigers, according to Crasnick. After a down season, he will look to rebound in Detroit in 2018 and increase his free agent stock for next offseason.
Fiers spent four seasons with the Brewers before he was traded to Houston in 2015. He is a very low-risk, high upside signing for Detroit. The 32-year old righty has a 4.15 ERA and 1.29 WHIP over seven seasons in the MLB. He should have no problem maintaining those numbers in spacious Comerica Park.
Fiers actually owns a surprisingly high strikeout rate of 8.53 K/9 over 726.0 innings in his career, but he does not throw as hard as most strikeout artists. Most of Fiers’ pitches sit in the upper 80s to low 90s. His average fastball velocity sits at about 90. He also has a curveball, changeup and slider in his arsenal.
Fiers tossed a no-hitter with the Astros in 2015, only four starts after being traded from the Brewers. In that season, he pitched for a career best 3.69 ERA and an 8.98 K/9.
Fiers struggled with his command in 2017 with the Astros. In 28 starts, Fiers pitched to a 5.22 ERA over 153.1 innings. He hit career worsts in ERA, HR allowed and BB/9. He did not pitch in the 2017 Postseason, where his team went on to win the World Series. The Astros non-tendered Fiers last week instead of going through the arbitration process, causing him to become a free agent.
The good news is that Fiers dominated the American League Central in 2017, where he pitched to a 3.00 ERA. If you take his one start against Detroit out, it drops to a 2.62 ERA. If Fiers can continue his success against the Central division in 2018, he will be an extremely effective starter in the Tigers’ rotation.
Fiers will be the oldest member of the pitching rotation in 2018. He will join a rotation that consists of righties Michael Fulmer and Jordan Zimmermann and lefties Daniel Norris and Matthew Boyd.
With Zimmermann struggling over the past two seasons and health concerns around Fulmer and Norris, the Tigers have made it clear that acquiring pitching depth is a top priority this offseason. They also signed former Rockies farmhand Ryan Carpenter to a major league contract. The 27-year old lefty could be in the mix for a rotation spot as well in 2018.
Fiers has made at least 28 starts over the past three seasons, so he is definitely a durable piece in the back end of the rotation.
This is the second free-agent signing the Tigers have made in the past week. They signed outfielder Leonys Martin to a one-year contract on Tuesday.
Expect more moves to come shortly as the MLB Winter Meetings take place in Orlando next week. The meetings will last from Dec. 10-14.