UPDATED 8:30 PM: Utility man Jeff Baker was designated for assignment earlier this afternoon. During tonight's game with the White Sox, the Tigers announced Baker had been traded back to the National League.
The— Detroit Tigers (@tigers) September 1, 2012
#Tigers have traded Jeff Baker to Atlanta for a player to be named later, on or before 9/30/12.
With that tweet, Baker's Detroit Tigers career officially came to an inglorious end.
Original post: We have our first surprise roster move of the stretch run. The Detroit Tigers have announced recently acquired utility man Jeff Baker has been designated for assignment. Taking his place on the roster is rookie outfielder Avisail Garcia, who will be called up from Double A Erie.
Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski has also confirmed relief pitcher Al Alburquerque will rejoin the team on Sunday.
The Tigers traded for Baker on August 5th, giving the Chicago Cubs a pair of minor leaguers to be named later in return. The 31 year old right hand hitting veteran was expected to provide offense against left handed pitching, replacing injured (and ineffective) Ryan Raburn on the bench. But Baker has proven to be a disappointment, posting Raburn-esque numbers (.200/.243/.257, 0 HR, 4 RBI) in 15 games.The Tigers have decided this marriage wasn't working out, and would look in other directions for a corner outfielder. Somewhat surprisingly, they decided to go with a youngster from within the system.
The youngster in question, Garcia, is a 21 year old right hand hitting outfielder from Venezuela who was added to the 40 man roster this past off season. Garcia is the rarest of Tigers. He's a threat to run, with a career higjh 23 stolen bases to his credit in 2012.
In BYB's mid-season prospect report, MattinToldeo had this to say about the young outfielder:
He finally started to show some of his power in the games and earned a mid season promotion to Erie. He's still showing the same weaknesses with command of the strike zone, but with continued growth he could fill a need for the Tigers as an athletic corner outfielder.
Garcia has split time between Single A Lakeland (playing mostly RF) and Double A Erie (primarily as a CF) in 2012. His offensive numbers have actually improved since his July promotion:
Lakeland:.289/ .324/ .447/ .771 in 266 AB, 8 HR 36 RBI, 11 BB, 14 SB
Erie: .312/ .345/ .465/ .810 in 215 AB, 6 HR, 22 RBI, 7 BB, 9 SB
According to Jim Leyland, Garcia is not being called up to sit:
Leyland said he'll play Garcia tomorrow night. Was hoping he'd be here in time to get acclimated to Comerica.— Matthew B. Mowery (@matthewbmowery) August 31, 2012
The return of a healthy Alburquerque (and his near unhittable slider) will be a boon to the Tigers' bullpen. The 26 year old right-hander has spent most of 2012 rehabbing from off season surgery, in which a stabilizing screw was inserted in his elbow. In 9 appearances with the Triple A Mud Hens, Alburquerque has pitched quite well, posting a 1.69 ERA and a 15.2 K/9 ratio in 10 2/3 innings.