Detroit Tigers option Spencer Turnbull to Triple-A Toledo after finishing rehab assignment

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Tigers optioned Spencer Turnbull to Triple-A Toledo on Wednesday.

The 30-year-old right-handed starter, fully recovered from neck discomfort, completed the final start of his rehab assignment Tuesday in Triple-A Toledo. Less than 24 hours later, the Tigers officially reinstated him from the 60-day injured list and demoted him.

He posted a 6.75 ERA in six rehab starts.

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Turnbull, who showed up to Comerica Park on Wednesday, learned of the Tigers’ decision to option him to Triple-A Toledo roughly three hours ahead of Wednesday’s series finale against the Chicago Cubs. He had a meeting with manager A.J. Hinch upon his arrival at the ballpark.

Poor performance dictated the decision.

This marks the second time the Tigers have optioned Turnbull in the 2023 season.

The Tigers optioned Turnbull on May 7 to Triple-A Toledo — due to a 7.26 ERA with 15 walks and 24 strikeouts over 31 innings in seven starts — before he disclosed his neck discomfort to the organization. The neck injury reversed the option and sent him to the injured list, which allowed him to continue accruing valuable MLB service time.

Players need six years of service time to reach free agency.

In six rehab starts, Turnbull logged a 6.75 ERA with seven walks and 23 strikeouts over 21⅓ innings for High-A West Michigan (two starts) and Triple-A Toledo (four starts). He had a 7.71 ERA with the Mud Hens. In Tuesday’s start, Turnbull allowed three runs on six hits and two walks with five strikeouts in 3⅔ innings.

He exited after 82 pitches without completing the fourth inning.

Turnbull, who entered the 2023 season with four years and 20 days of service time, is currently under team control through the 2024 season. If he stays in Toledo for the remainder of the season, though, the Tigers will gain additional year of control and Turnbull won’t become a free agent until after the 2025 season.

The Tigers will decide in the offseason, as part of the salary arbitration process, whether or not to tender him a contract for next season. If Turnbull gets non-tendered, he will automatically become a free agent for the first time in his career.

Turnbull threw a no-hitter in May 2021 but missed the entire 2022 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. He registered a 2.88 ERA over 50 innings in nine starts before undergoing elbow surgery in July 2021. He has a 12-29 record with a 4.55 ERA over 61 games (60 starts) in his MLB career, spanning parts of five seasons.

Javy’s health

Shortstop Javier Báez wasn’t in Wednesday’s starting lineup against the Cubs. He was scratched from Tuesday’s lineup because of an illness. The Tigers expect him to return for Friday’s series opener against the Houston Astros.

The 30-year-old will be available to pinch-hit Wednesday, but the Tigers would prefer to let him rest. He is hitting .223 with eight home runs, 19 walks and 105 strikeouts in 113 games.

“This sickness has gone through coaches, players and through the clubhouse a little bit,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “Javy is the next one. He’s pretty congested. The off day helps tomorrow where you think you can get him yesterday, today and tomorrow for 72 hours. He should be good to go on Friday against the Astros.”

Tough as nails

Catcher Jake Rogers fouled a ball off his shin in Tuesday’s game.

He stayed in the game and finished Tuesday’s 8-6 win over the Cubs, then asked to be in the lineup for Wednesday’s series finale, as originally planned, to catch for left-hander Tarik Skubal.

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Rogers has 15 home runs in 85 games.

“He really lobbied to play,” Hinch said. “I did check with him this morning just in case. The one position you don’t want to ambush in the morning is the catcher position because of the work that’s done prior with Skubal, complicated a little bit more because Carson (Kelly, backup catcher) hasn’t caught him. He was a part of my breakfast this morning, and he was fine. He’s not a graceful runner anyway, so I’m not that concerned. I love Jake Rogers, for the record.”

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

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