The Rays have claimed left-hander Tyler Alexander off waivers from the Tigers, according to announcements from both clubs. The Tigers had designated the lefty for assignment earlier this week.
Alexander, 29, will join a new organization for the first time in his career. He was selected by the Tigers in the second round of the 2015 draft and has been with that club in some fashion for close to a decade now. He pitched for the big league club in a swing capacity over the past five years, making 120 appearances since the start of 2019, including 43 starts. He logged 341 1/3 innings in that time with a 4.38 earned run average, 18.9% strikeout rate and 5.1% walk rate.
In 2023, he was moved to the bullpen on essentially a full-time basis, making just one start that lasted three innings. He threw 44 innings over 25 appearances in total with a 4.50 ERA, though perhaps deserved better. His 24.3% strikeout rate and 2.8% walk rate were both better than average, the latter number especially so. His 65.3% strand rate was a bit on the unlucky side, leading to ERA estimators looking at him through a relatively rosier lens, such as a 4.10 FIP and 3.48 SIERA.
In early July, Alexander landed on the injured list due to a left lat/shoulder strain and wasn’t able to return. There’s no injured list during the offseason, so the Tigers opted to cut him loose instead of adding him back onto the roster. It was effectively an early non-tender, with Alexander set to go through that process for a second time. He made $1.875MM in 2023 and MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects a salary of $2MM in 2024.
It appears the Rays are willing to add Alexander at something near that price point, otherwise there would be little point in claiming him just before next week’s non-tender deadline. Assuming they plan to keep utilizing him out of the bullpen, he will join Colin Poche and Garrett Cleavinger as the club’s southpaw relief options. Alexander is still optionable and has another potential year of arb control remaining, perhaps allowing him to serve as a long-term depth piece for the Rays.