Lakeland, Fla. — The Tigers, at last, got the veteran starter they were looking for to round out their starting rotation.
Friday night, sources confirmed reports that the club was in agreement with 33-year-old right-hander Michael Pineda. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported the deal was for one year and $5.5 million with incentives that could add another $2.5 million to the deal.
The deal is slightly larger than the deal former Tiger Matthew Boyd signed with the Giants (5.2 million with $2.3 million in incentives).
Pineda, 6-7, 280 and entering his ninth season, went 22-13 in 52 starts over three seasons with the Twins, posting a 3.80 ERA and 1.192 WHIP.
The presumption is, barring any health or performance setbacks, Pineda will become the fifth starter in the Tigers’ rotation behind Eduardo Rodriguez, Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal and Matt Manning.
The addition of Pineda will push lefty Tyler Alexander back to the bullpen, where he has excelled in a variety of roles.
When asked on Thursday if he was comfortable with Alexander being the fifth starter, general manager Al Avila said, “Always we are looking to improve. We like Tyler and the role that he’s played for us. He’s been successful and we’ve been successful as a team with him in that role.”
That role, as manager AJ Hinch described it, was a Swiss Army Knife role out of the bullpen — pitching in long relief, against left-handed heavy lineups and making spot starts.
Pineda began his career with the Mariners, then spent four seasons with the Yankees (2014-2017). He had Tommy John surgery in 2017 and missed all of 2018. He three-year stint with the Twins was interrupted late in 2019 by a 60-game suspension after he tested positive for hydrochlorothiazide, a diuretic commonly prescribed for blood pressure.
MLB reduced the suspension from 80 games to 60 after Pineda argued that he wasn’t using the diuretic to mask any performance-enhancing drugs.
The statement he released in 2019 read, “I mistakenly took a medication that was given to me by a close acquaintance, who obtained it over-the-counter and assured me it would safely help me manage my weight. I ingested a few of these pills without the consent of the Twins’ training staff. Testing revealed trace elements of a substance called hydrochlorothiazide, which is a banned diuretic under baseball’s testing program.”
The Twins re-signed him for two-years and $20 million before the 2020 season, which, because of the pandemic, he wasn’t reinstated until Sept. 1.