The Tigers re-signed lefty reliever Andrew Vasquez to a minor league contract with an invite to big league Spring Training, reports Evan Petzold of the Detroit Free-Press. He finished last season in Detroit after being claimed off waivers from Philadelphia in early August.
Vasquez, 30, made 42 appearances at the big league level a year ago. He tossed 48 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Tigers, handily surpassing the 15 1/3 frames he logged from 2019-22 combined. Vasquez managed excellent results in Philadelphia, working to a 2.27 ERA across 30 appearances. That came in spite of a middling 20% strikeout percentage and a very modest 7.7% swinging strike rate. Clearly skeptical of his ability to continue keeping runs off the board at an elite level, Philadelphia designated him for assignment on August 2.
His results indeed fell off in the Motor City, albeit in a very small sample. Vasquez allowed nine runs (eight earned) with nine strikeouts and walks apiece over 8 2/3 innings. He finished the season with a 3.35 ERA over 48 1/3 frames and went unclaimed on waivers at the beginning of the offseason. Vasquez elected minor league free agency before returning to Detroit in a non-roster capacity.
Vasquez brings an atypical approach, leaning very heavily on a slider to offset a lack of velocity. He threw his breaking ball nearly 82% of the time last season. While that pitch did an excellent job avoiding hard contact, it didn’t generate the kind of swing-and-miss that teams prioritize in the bullpen. As a result, Vasquez will need to reclaim a 40-man spot to get back to the majors.
The Tigers have Andrew Chafin and Tyler Holton as southpaws locked into season-opening spots in the relief corps. Joey Wentz is out of options, so he’ll need to be on the MLB roster in some capacity unless Detroit is willing to risk losing him on waivers or via minor trade. Vasquez is out of options himself. If the Tigers call him up at any point, they’d need to keep him in the majors or again make him available to other teams.