Tigers Notes: Turnbull, Greene, Baez

MLB Trade Rumors

Tigers right-hander Spencer Turnbull was scratched from a start with Triple-A Toledo yesterday, as noted by Chris McCosky of The Detroit News, due to a cracked toenail. It’s another setback in what has been a brutal season for Turnbull as he returns to the mound for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery early in the 2021 campaign.

McCosky adds that the relationship between Turnbull and the organization has deteriorated significantly throughout the 2023 season. Turnbull posted a brutal 7.26 ERA and 5.55 FIP in 31 innings of work across seven starts earlier in the season before the Tigers attempted to option him to Triple-A. Upon being optioned, Turnbull disclosed some neck discomfort to the Tigers and visits with doctors led to the club placing Turnbull on the injured list in early May. Turnbull posted a 7.71 ERA in four rehab starts with Toledo before being activated from the IL toward the end of August and was immediately optioned to Triple-A. Yesterday would have marked Turnbull’s first appearance since being activated and optioned.

There are plenty of contractual nuances to the situation. Turnbull is currently just six days short of reaching five years of MLB service time, at which point the club would no longer be able to option him to Triple-A without his consent. If he remains in the minors through the end of the 2023 season, his free agency would then be delayed until after the 2025 campaign. Of course, it’s possible that between Turnbull’s difficult 2023 campaign and the decaying relationship between club and player, the Tigers could opt not to tender him a contract for the 2024 campaign.

McCosky indicates that Turnbull is “most likely” seeking independent medical counsel, though he also suggests that the Tigers may not accept that counsel. If tensions continue to rise, the Tigers could place Turnbull on the restricted list. Turnbull, who would not accrue MLB service time or be paid during a stint on the restricted list, could then file a grievance against the Tigers in response.

More from Detroit…

  • The Tigers placed outfielder Riley Greene on the 10-day IL this afternoon with elbow inflammation. As noted by Jason Beck of MLB.com, Greene is dealing with swelling and soreness in his elbow following a diving catch during last night’s game against the White Sox. Greene will undergo an MRI in 7-10 days to determine the severity of the issue, though with the season’s final month upon us and the Tigers all but guaranteed to miss the postseason, it’s fair to wonder if the injury brings an end to Greene’s 2023 campaign. Greene’s played well in his sophomore season as a major leaguer, combining strong outfield defense with a .288/.349/.447 slash line (119 wRC+) in 416 trips to the plate this year.
  • McCosky also relayed recent comments from manager AJ Hinch regarding shortstop Javier Baez’s playing time going forward. Hinch admitted to reporters that playing time would be “at a premium” going forward with the expanded rosters, and that as a result Baez will “play a little more sporadically than we’re used to” going forward. Baez landed with Detroit prior to the 2022 season on a six-year, $140MM contract that has the look of an albatross nearly two years in. In 262 games since joining the Tigers, Baez has slashed just .229/.271/.360 with a wRC+ of 74. While he’s largely posted strong defensive marks during his time in Detroit, Baez’s days as an offensive contributor and above-average regular with Chicago (113 wRC+ from 2018 to 2021) seem to be behind him, and a reduction in playing time could make sense for the 30-year-old veteran as the Tigers continue to look toward the future.

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