Tigers Release Donny Sands

MLB Trade Rumors

The Tigers have released catcher Donny Sands, tweets Evan Woodbery of MLive.com. He was outrighted off the 40-man roster earlier this winter and will now depart the organization entirely.

The 27-year-old Sands was one of three players Detroit acquired in the trade sending Gregory Soto and Kody Clemens to the Phillies. Utilityman Nick Maton and third baseman/outfielder Matt Vierling both came to the Tigers in that swap as well.

Sands hasn’t panned out as hoped since that swap. He spent the bulk of the 2023 season in Triple-A Toledo, where he slashed .225/.318/.353 in 371 plate appearances. Those struggles were pronounced enough that Detroit opted to go outside the organization rather than call up Sands when they cut backup catcher Eric Haase last summer; the Tigers instead signed Carson Kelly to a big league deal that included a club option which has since been exercised.

Kelly will be the backup to Jake Rogers, who’s hit .225/.291/.457 (102 wRC+) with plus defense over the past two seasons — a strong enough showing to cement his status as the starting backstop in Detroit. Kelly’s contract was always going to ensure him of a roster spot, but he hit .289/.372/.553 in 43 spring plate appearances, which only reinforced his positioning ahead of Sands on the depth chart.

Sands only logged 10 spring plate appearances and went 1-for-8 with a walk in that tiny sample. His release should get former second-round pick Dillon Dingler even more playing time in Toledo this year. Dingler struggled through 106 plate appearances in his first look at Triple-A last year, but he’s hit well in Double-A and had a decent spring at the plate.

From a defensive standpoint, Sands has drawn decent framing numbers in the upper minors and turned in a 24% caught-stealing rate this past season. His 2023 struggles notwithstanding, Sands is a lifetime .261/.352/.403 hitter in parts of three Triple-A campaigns. He has also has a minor league option year remaining. He could latch on as a depth piece with another club that’s thinner behind the plate than the Tigers at the moment.

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