Jon Morosi of Fox Sports reported via Twitter the Tigers will offer 30-year-old Jeremy Bonderman a contract. No further details are known at this time, though all signs point to a low-risk minor league deal.
It really is a win-win for both parties. Bonderman can attempt his comeback in familiar surroundings watched by a staff who knows him well, while the Tigers could find themselves with a very competent pitcher for very little money. At the very least, if the Tigers don't believe Bonderman is a good fit, he could showcase himself for other teams with a decent spring.
Bonderman, whom the Tigers acquired along with Carlos Pena and Franklyn German as a player to be named later as part of a 3 way 2003 trade with the Athletics and Yankees involving Jeff Weaver (and a topic in book "Moneyball"), has been out of baseball for the past 2 seasons after 4 injury filled years had taken their toll.
Despite being only 20 years old and his lack of pro experience, Bonderman was immediately made the Tigers' number 1 starter for the 2003 season. Given such a heavy burden, he showed flashes of his elite talent between 2003-05, but was never the ace the Tigers believed he could become. But in 2006, Bonderman finally started to put it all together.
Bonderman had a career best year in the Tigers' World Series season,14-8 with a 4.08 ERA in a league leading 34 starts, and 1-0, 3.10 in 3 post season appearances. He looked to have taken the next step toward realizing his immense potential in the first half of 2007, posting a 9-1 record with a 3.48 ERA.
Then injuries kicked in, derailing his promising career.
Bonderman didn't tell the Tigers about developing arm pain, attempting to pitch through it instead. He did so to little success, shown by his 2-8, 7.38 2nd half of 2007.
His 2008 season ended after 12 starts. Bonderman's "dead arm" was caused by a blood clot in his shoulder, requiring season ending surgery, including the removal of a rib.
2009 was almost entirely lost to recovery from the injuries of the previous season. Bonderman made a token start in June and a handful of relief appearances in September.
Bonderman did pitch a full season in 2010. But he no longer had the velocity on his fastball or command of his out pitch, his slider known as Mr. Snappy, which had made him an elite prospect in the early part of the decade.
After posting a 9-10 record and 5.53 ERA with a career low strikeout per 9 inning rate of 5.9, the Tigers allowed Bonderman to walk in free agency.
Coming off an awful season and long history of injuries, Bonderman would have had to settle for a minor league contract for 2011. Being he had taken care of the $40 million he had made over his career, and tired of battling through injuries, Bonderman decided to step away from the game. At the age of 28, having pitched 8 seasons for the Tigers, Bondo was, for all intents and purposes, retired.
But once a pitcher, always a pitcher. Reports surfaced Bonderman had regained the itch to pitch again. He had Tommy John surgery in April of this year in order to prepare for a possible return. Media reports claimed Bondo recently spoke with Tigers officials about a comeback.
Apparently, those conversations went better than expected. We'll see Bonderman in Lakeland with a minor league contract in hand, attempting to make the team.