How this Tigers’ new hire can alter the team’s future

Detroit Tigers

This story was excerpted from Jason Beck’s Tigers Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

Matthew Boyd was a free agent pitcher coming off flexor tendon surgery with an uncertain timetable for his return when he got a call from the Giants and their then-general manager, Scott Harris. San Francisco had a track record of success buying low on pitchers and either taking them to a new level or getting them back to previous form. They saw something with Boyd, and it was part of Harris’ pitch to the left-hander.

“It’s where I wanted to sign. I knew it after our first phone call and through the recruiting process, for lack of a better term. It was really impressive. The conversations with [Harris and manager Gabe Kapler], they sold me on what their vision for me would be. That was really exciting.”

Boyd never pitched for the Giants, as he was dealt to his hometown Mariners at the Trade Deadline and made his debut for the M’s against the Tigers last month at Comerica Park. But what Boyd learned about his game from the Giants continues to help him now as he tries to help his hometown club toward a postseason run.

“I learned a ton,” Boyd said. “And I’m so grateful for the opportunity that Scott gave me. … They gave me more understanding of what I did and what it did to help me have success.”

For that and other reasons, Boyd is a fan of Harris, and a believer that he’s a great fit for the Tigers as their new president of baseball operations.

“He’s really good at what he does. His attention to detail is amazing,” Boyd said. “The conversations that we had in the clubhouse, he’s so in tune with everything with the team. He’s going to be a great fit in Detroit. He finds ways to get wins in every aspect of the ballclub and make it a really well-tuned machine. I was so impressed with him in San Francisco, in our conversations during the signing process and throughout the year. Detroit got a real winner in Scott. I’m excited to see what he’s going to do going forward.”

This is the key to Harris as he works on building out his front office and fine-tuning the organization. He doesn’t want to copy a blueprint for how other teams succeeded. He wants to find things that the Tigers can do differently and better than anyone else. For the Giants, part of that was finding pitchers who were undervalued or in need of fine-tuning and helping them do that.

“They know what they’re doing,” Boyd said. “The cool thing about it was there was no cookie-cutterness to it. They knew what each guy could do to get the best out of them. It was just fun to listen to how they saw each guy — how they saw things with Logan Webb, whose pitches are so unique, and then Alex Cobb, Carlos Rodón, and then [Anthony] DeSclafani and Alex Wood, Jakob Junis. They’re a well-tuned machine.”

Given the work that pitching coach Chris Fetter and director of pitching Gabe Ribas have put into improving the Tigers’ own pitchers and delving into pitch design, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Harris finds a strength in the Tigers’ pitching development. Detroit will need some pitching help as it bridges the gap until Tarik Skubal and Casey Mize return. Finding some candidates who could rebound under Fetter could play a part in that. Maybe what worked in turning around hitting prospects Parker Meadows and Wenceel Perez could help a Minor League hitter or two in need of answers.

As the Tigers try to put 2022 behind them and transition into an offseason plan, it’ll be interesting to see what Harris finds.

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