Trading for reliever good move by Tigers


It was a long time coming, but Detroit Tigers president/CEO/general manager Dave Dombrowski has made a move to shore up the team’s woeful bullpen.

He shipped a couple of prospects – pitchers Corey Knebel and Jake Thompson – to Texas for veteran reliever Joakim Soria.

What took Dombrowski so long?

For weeks, maybe even months, Detroit fans have known the team’s bullpen was the club’s Achilles’ heel.

Other than set-up man Joba Chamberlain, the Tigers’ relief corps has been at best shaky and at worst, downright awful.

The club ranked 12th among 15 American League teams with a bullpen earned-run average of 4.37 when the trade was made.

Joe Nathan, who the Tigers signed to a two-year, $20 million free-agent deal during the offseason, has not pitched like Dombrowski thought he would. Good at times, but also awful at times.

Al Alburquerque has been up and down, Ian Krol has not been healthy and Blaine Hardy is too young to get a read on just yet.

And don’t get me started on Phil Coke. Why he’s still with the Tigers after so many bad outings is a mystery to me.

Enter Soria. He was 1-3 with a 2.70 ERA and 17 saves with the Rangers. Not spectacular, but solid. Better than most of the Tigers’ relief corps, anyway.

He signed a two-year, $8 million contract before last season with a $7 million club option for 2015 and a $500,000 buyout clause.

If Soria doesn’t work out, he’s not breaking the Tigers’ bank. Soon-to-be free agent pitcher Max Scherzer may do that.

It’s hard to get giddy about the Tigers picking up a reliever who may be relegated to pitching the seventh inning. It shows how few times Tiger starters get past the sixth.

But the move should bolster the bullpen and give the Tigers insurance should Nathan continue to falter or get injured at some point.

Losing Knebel and Thompson could come back to haunt the Tigers. You never know how prospects will do.

Some do well in the “show,” others never make it past the farm system.

But Dombrowski had to do something. If the Tigers are to win the American League Central Division and go far in the playoffs, they need a stronger bullpen.

Soria should be the answer.

Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251. His email address is