Detroit – Just two seasons ago, right-hander Kyle Funkhouser emerged as a versatile and vital part of the Tigers’ bullpen, covering 68.1 innings and posting a 3.42 ERA.
Now, after missing the entire 2022 season with a shoulder injury that ultimately required surgery, he finds himself off the club’s 40-man roster and facing an uncertain future.
Funkhouser was one of five players designated for assignment Tuesday, along with right-handed pitcher Miguel Diaz, left-handed pitcher Sean Guenther, infielder Brendon Davis and catcher Michael Papierski. Guenther was outrighted to Triple-A Toledo.
The moves were made to add a quintet of prospects to the roster, effectively protecting them from the Rule 5 draft which takes place in San Diego next month.
The five prospects selected to the roster were right-handed pitchers Reese Olson and Brendan White, infielders Wenceel Perez and Andre Lipcius and outfielder Parker Meadows.
Funkhouser, who will be going into his age-29 season, is still rehabbing his shoulder and hasn’t begun a throwing program. He was a first-round draft pick of the Dodgers in 2015 but decided to return to school at Louisville. The Tigers took him in the fourth round the following year.
After an injury-staggered rise through the Tigers’ system as a starting pitcher, he was transitioned to the bullpen in 2020 and seemed to find his niche.
If Funkhouser clears waivers, he could elect to re-sign with the Tigers on a minor-league deal and continue his rehab in Lakeland.
The Tigers also swung a minor-league trade Tuesday – the first deal Tigers president Scott Harris has made with his former team. They acquired Triple-A outfielder Steele Walker from the San Francisco Giants for cash.
Walker, 26, a former second-round pick of the White Sox, played in five games for the Rangers last season before being claimed off waivers by the Giants. Oddly, Walker bats left-handed and Harris said last week that the club, heavily left-handed in the outfield, was looking for right-handed hitting corner outfielders.