Detroit Tigers interested in reunion with Joakim Soria


Just as bad as the state of Michigan needs its roads repaired, the Detroit Tigers need reinforcements for the back end of their bullpen, after posting the fourth-worst pen earned run average in 2015 at 4.38. But should Joakim Soria be an arm the club pursues?

According to Tony Paul of the Detroit News, he is a likely target.

The artist formerly known as “The Mexicutioner” pitched in 56 games and 52 innings in parts of two seasons with Detroit.

Soria pitched for the Tigers in the second half of 2014 after being acquired from the Texas Rangers at the trade deadline and in the first half of 2015 before being dealt at the non-waiver deadline to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

He pitched to the tune of an earned run average of nearly five (4.91) in 13 appearances in ‘14 and then turned it around in ’15, recording an ERA below three (2.85) in 43 appearances.

However, when you dive deeper into his pre-deadline stats from this past season, you’ll find that the former Kansas City Royals closer was not as good as advertised.

His fielding independent pitching mark from his time with the Tigers in ’15 is the largest sign of that for me. He finished with an FIP near five (4.87), which was two runs worse than his ERA.

On top of that, his FIP in about one full season with the Motown Bengals was 4.94 — by far the worst of Soria’s eight-year big league career.

By the end of the ’15 campaign, he had recorded a 3.71 FIP, which accounts for a career-high 72 appearances out of both Detroit’s and Pittsburgh’s pens.

That full season FIP from Soria in ’15 paled in comparison to Motown left-handed relief arm Blaine Hardy and was also worse than the one recorded by former Boston Red Sox reliever Alex Wilson — both of whom are still pitching on their rookie contracts.

Of the two Tigers hurlers, Wilson is due for a pay raise first, as he becomes arbitration eligible at the conclusion of the 2016 campaign.

With all that being said, those are two much more cost-efficient guys who performed better than Soria throughout the course of this past season.

Then, there’s veteran right-handed relief arm Al Alburquerque, who posted a very comparable 3.75 FIP and made under two million in ’15 ($1.73 million).

In contrast, Soria made seven million combined this year in his two stops and is more than likely set to make around $10 million on the open market this offseason.

In comparing the contracts of Al Al and Soria, I’m not trying to say that the in-house Tigers relief option is more valuable at his price tag than Soria is at his estimated new annual contract value.

Any belief in that being the case is wiped away completely when you look at the Dominican Republic native’s strikeouts per walks ratio from this past season — a career-worst 1.76 mark to go along with a career-worst walks and hits per innings pitched mark of slightly over one and a half (1.55).

In fact, the only two Motor City arms who finished with a worse WHIP than Alburquerque in ’15 were Shane Greene and Kyle Lobstein, who both recorded ERAs north of five and a half as well as FIPs north of four and a half.

This tells you that outside of Hardy and Wilson, Motown’s MLB franchise does not possess a truly reliable pen arm.

It’s why upgrading the pen is a dire need of the ballclub and a top priority for the club’s executive vice president of baseball operations Al Avila in his first offseason on the job.

However, while a reunion with Soria would be nice, Avila should not break the bank and pay $10 million or more for the right-hander’s services.

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Instead, he should use the money made available to him by owner Mike Ilitch on a variety of cheaper free agent relief options. These options will be covered in a future piece. This would allow the club to allocate its financial resources to other areas of need this offseason, including the starting rotation and the void in left field.

It’d be the wisest decision Avila could make in kicking off his tenure as the club’s front office boss.