Chris McCosky | The Detroit News
Lakeland, Fla. — It was such a good story. While it lasted.
Right-hander John Schreiber, the NAIA star from the Downriver area, a 15th round pick who worked his way into a spot in the Tigers’ bullpen the last two seasons, was designated for assignment on Friday — making room for the outfielder Nomar Mazara, who was signed to a one-year, $1.75-million contract on Thursday.
Schreiber, from Rockwood and a graduate from Gibraltar Carlson High School, pitched in 28 games with the Tigers, posting a 2-1 record with a 6.28 ERA. If he clears waivers, he could be outrighted to Triple-A Toledo.
In Mazara, the Tigers have a left-handed power hitter coming off a down season with the White Sox who is expected to compete for a corner outfield role in 2021.
“Heading through the offseason we were looking to add a left-handed hitting outfielder to provide AJ (Hinch, manager) with more options for the lineup, and bringing Nomar onboard does exactly that,” general manager Al Avila said in a statement. “He’s still a young player, and we believe he’s really going to benefit from working with Scott Coolbaugh, José Cruz Jr. and the rest of our coaching staff, who will help to maximize the potential of his power and overall hitting tools that’s made him successful in years past.”
Mazara is heading into his age-26 season and he’d produced seasons of 20, 20, 20 and 19 home runs with the Texas Rangers before signing with the White Sox last season.
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Among left-handed American League outfielders between 2016-19, Mazara ranked first in RBIs (308), fifth in hits (519), sixth in home runs (79) and runs (171), seventh in extra-base hits (181) and eighth in doubles (95).
He was one of 10 major league outfielders to hit at least 19 homers in each of those four seasons, and was the only one to do so before turning 25.
“This is such an exciting time to join the Tigers organization, and be part of a lineup that has the potential to do some great things,” Mazara said. “After a frustrating 2020 season, I’m looking forward to a fresh start and getting to work with the coaching staff — especially AJ Hinch, who I always enjoyed competing against during his time in Houston.
“I’ve come to really appreciate coming to Detroit as a visiting player, and can’t wait to join their baseball community this season.”
The Tigers signed two more veteran minor-league pitchers Thursday, presumably to stock the rotation at Triple-A Toledo — right-handers Brad Markey and Pedro Payano.
Markey, entering his age-29 season, is a grinder. A former college teammate of Tigers reliever Buck Farmer at Georgia Tech in 2011, Markey was a 19th-round pick by the Chicago Cubs and spent eight seasons climbing through their system and advancing as high as Triple A.
He features a fastball that ranges in velocity between 89 and 92 mph and an above-average curveball. He also mixes in a change-up. He’s been a starter and an all-situations reliever through the years.
Payano, 26, spent eight seasons in the Texas Rangers system, finally making his big-league debut in 2019. In four starts he posted a 1-2 record with a 5.73 ERA, with 17 strikeouts and 15 walks in 22 innings. He made 125 starts in the minor leagues, with a 3.68 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP.
He is a sinker (93-94 mph)-slider pitcher, for the most part. He also has an underused curveball with a spin rate in the upper 16 percentile in baseball. In his four starts in 2019, hitters swung and missed at the curveball 42.3 percent of the time.
Neither Markey or Payano were invited to big league camp, but they are part of a growing list of veteran minor-league free-agent pitchers signed by the Tigers this off-season. That list also includes:
►LHP Robbie Ross, Jr., 31 (camp invite)
►LHP Ian Krol, 30 (camp invite)
►LHP Miguel Del Pozo, 28 (camp invite)
►LHP Locke St. John, 28
►RHP Erasmo Ramirez, 31 (camp invite)
►RHP Andrew Moore, 26 (camp invite)
►RHP Henry Martinez, 27
►RHP Yunior Perez, 22
Around the horn
Former Tigers outfielder Travis Demeritte was claimed off waivers by the Atlanta Braves on Friday. Demeritte, who came to the Tigers from the Braves in the Shane Greene trade in 2019, had been designated for assignment earlier this week to make roster space for the re-signing of second baseman Jonathan Schoop.