Detroit Tigers: José Ureña signing brings a small bit of optimism

JUPITER, FLORIDA - MARCH 12: Jose Urena #62 of the Miami Marlins delivers a pitch during the spring training game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium on March 12, 2020 in Jupiter, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
JUPITER, FLORIDA - MARCH 12: Jose Urena #62 of the Miami Marlins delivers a pitch during the spring training game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium on March 12, 2020 in Jupiter, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /
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The Detroit Tigers have inked RHP José Ureña to a one-year deal as they look to solidify their starting rotation.

First announced on Wednesday afternoon by MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, the Detroit Tigers have signed free agent starting pitcher Jose Urena to a one-year deal for the 2021 season.

Per FanSided’s own Robert Murray, the deal is worth $3.25 million worth up to $250,000 in incentives.

It’s an intriguing signing for the Detroit Tigers, who were in the market for veteran starting pitching help to compliment an impressive group of young arms next season.

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Ureña, who has spent his entire career with the Miami Marlins up to this point, showed a bit of promise in 2017, going 14-7 with a 3.82 ERA, a 1.27 WHIP, and .235 average against, but showed noted improvements in 2018.

In 31 starts, Ureña posted a career-high 18.3% strikeout rate, slashed his walk and home run rates, and lowered his 2017 FIP of 5.20 to 4.17. Despite not being a big strikeout pitcher, Ureña did keep the ball on the ground 50% of the time. With a good defense behind him, he was on track to be a key piece in Miami’s starting rotation, at least for the near future.

But Ureña took a step back in 2019 and his 2020 season was a complete disaster. After a lengthy departure due to a positive COVID-19 test, Ureña made just five starts before being struck in the forearm with a line drive, ending his 2020 campaign.

Earlier this offseason, Miami non-tendered José Ureña, who was expected to make around $4 million through arbitration. With an impressive crop of starters now in place, Miami made the right decision to part ways with the 29-year-old righty who will now look to rebound with the Detroit Tigers.

He’s a small-cost gamble worth taking a risk on. Armed with a fastball that averages 96 mph, a changeup, and slider, Miami struggled to get the most out of his pitch mix, but maybe Detroit can have some better luck.

Ureña slider has always been good, never allowing opponents to hit above .200 against the pitch and routinely producing whiff rates north of 30%. His changeup has also been a decently effective pitch, but his fastball/sinker has been shelled for much of his career.

Ureña also brings about a significant amount of baggage, but perhaps a move up north, out of Miami and out of the NL East, will be a good opportunity to hit the reset button.

His biggest contribution to the Detroit Tigers will be logging as many innings as possible, letting the younger group of arms continue to ease their way into a full-time role as the 2021 season appears to be headed for a 162-game schedule.

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If José Ureña can pitch at the level he did in 2018, this will be a great signing for the Detroit Tigers. That’s a big “if” though.