Detroit − The Tigers on Friday night announced they were not tendering contracts to three relatively long-tenured, arbitration-eligible players – third baseman Jeimer Candelario and utility players Harold Castro and Willi Castro.
Candelario, 29 and a two-time Tiger of the Year honoree, had been with the club the past six seasons and was projected to earn close to $7 million next season. His production waned alarmingly last season − .217 average, .272 on-base percentage and .361 slugging – to the point where he lost his everyday role.
Harold Castro, also 29, had been with the club for parts of six seasons, hitting .284 but with a low walk rate and very little power.
Willi Castro, 26, seemed to revive his standing in the organization with his ability to play outfield but he never fulfilled the promise at the plate he flashed in the shortened 2020 season when he posted a .349 average, slugged .550 and had a team-high 153 OPS-plus.
All three players are free agents.
With these moves, the Tigers will clearly be looking to reload around the diamond. Presently, the only positions that are somewhat set are shortstop (Javier Baez), second base (Jonathan Schoop) and center field (Riley Greene).
Six other arbitration-eligible players were tendered contracts for 2023. Left-handed pitcher Tyler Alexander avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $1.875 million contract. Outfielder Austin Meadows also signed a one-year deal. Terms of the contract weren’t revealed.
The others – pitchers Gregory Soto, Joe Jimenez, Jose Cisnero and Rony Garcia − have until Jan. 13 to either work out a deal with the Tigers or file a salary request for arbitration.
The Tigers also on Friday claimed outfielder-first baseman Bligh Madris off waivers from Tampa Bay. Madris, 26, debuted with the Pirates last season, hitting .177 in 39 games. A left-handed hitter who plays both right field and first base, had a productive season in Triple-A, hitting .297 with a .510 slugging percentage (11 homers).
Tigers president Scott Harris said last week that his initial targets in free agency were a left-handed hitting corner infielder and a right-handed hitting corner outfielder. There are now vacancies at the two utility positions and it is assumed the Tigers will also search for a veteran catcher to pair with Eric Haase.