Detroit Tigers release Brandon Dixon, their 2019 HR leader who will play in Japan

Detroit Free Press

Evan Petzold
| Detroit Free Press

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The Detroit Tigers have requested unconditional release waivers on utility player Brandon Dixon, who led the team with 19 home runs in 2019, the organization announced Thursday morning.

Dixon, 28, will play in Japan in 2021. He is joining the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles in the Nippon Professional Baseball’s Pacific League, a source told the Free Press. The Tigers, for releasing Dixon, got an undisclosed amount of cash from the Golden Eagles, the source said.

The source requested anonymity because Dixon’s new club in Japan hasn’t made an official announcement.

The move puts the Tigers’ 40-man roster at 36 players, opening up another spot as prospects must be protected from the Rule 5 draft in December. The deadline to ensure prospects remain with the franchise (by adding them to the 40-man roster) is Friday.

Detroit Tigers can’t afford to lose these prospects to the 2020 Rule 5 draft ]

The Tigers are expected to move right-handers Matt Manning and Alex Faedo and left-hander Joey Wentz to the 40-man roster before Friday’s deadline. Now, they can protect an additional player.

It would make sense for the fourth spot to be given to right-hander Alex Lange.

Dixon played 74 games in the 2018 season for the Cincinnati Reds but was claimed off waivers by the Tigers in November 2018. He spent 117 games with Detroit in 2019, hitting .248 with 15 homers and 52 RBIs.

Yet Dixon didn’t make the active roster coming out of July’s summer camp. He spent almost the entire 2020 season at the alternate training site in Toledo. The Tigers called him to the majors Sept. 22 to finish the year.

In five games, Dixon was 1-for-13 (.077) with one double and two RBIs.

Dixon was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the third round (No. 92 overall) in 2013 from Arizona. He has played first base, second base, third base and all three outfield positions in his MLB career. He has 3⅓ innings of experience as a pitcher, as well.

Evan Petzold is a sports reporting intern at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.

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