Detroit Tigers sign injured reliever José Álvarez, who’s rehabbing from Tommy John surgery

Detroit Free Press

LAKELAND, Fla. — The Detroit Tigers on Thursday signed left-handed reliever José Álvarez, a 10-year MLB veteran, to a minor-league contract.

The 33-year-old underwent Tommy John surgery in September 2022.

He won’t pitch for the Tigers during the 2023 season. Instead, the organization will supervise Álvarez’s lengthy rehabilitation process at the spring training facility. A full recovery typically takes 12 to 18 months.

“I’m aware of the situation,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “But that’s more of a question for Gark (Ryan Garko, vice president of player development) or Scott (Harris, president of baseball operations). It’s a creative way of getting more talent in the organization, somebody with experience. He has a long road to recovery.”

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As a big-league pitcher, Álvarez has a 3.47 ERA with 137 walks (7.6% walk rate) and 360 strikeouts (20% strikeout rate) across 420⅔ innings in 447 appearances. He has played for the Tigers (2013), Los Angeles Angels (2014-18), Philadelphia Phillies (2019-20) and San Francisco Giants (2021-22).

He posted a 5.82 ERA with 16 walks and 31 strikeouts in 38⅔ innings for the Tigers in 2013.

It was his first year in the majors.

The Giants signed Álvarez to a one-year, $1.15 million contract in March 2021, when Tigers president of baseball operations Scott Harris was the Giants’ general manager. The deal included a $1.5 million club option for 2022.

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Álvarez registered a 2.37 ERA in 64⅔ innings in the 2021 season. He returned for the next season but landed on the injured list in July 2022 with left elbow inflammation. Two months later, he underwent Tommy John surgery.

In 2022, Álvarez threw four pitches: sinker, changeup, slider and four-seam fastball. The sinker averaged 90.8 mph, while the changeup generated swings and misses while limiting damage.

He pitched for the Giants in the 2021 National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

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Contact Evan Petzold at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.

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