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Jair Jurrjens signed to pitch in Toledo

Jair Jurrjens reports to Toledo on Friday, joining Jeremy Bonderman in returning to the Tigers' organization

Jair Jurrjens pitching for Atlanta in 2011
Jair Jurrjens pitching for Atlanta in 2011
Kevin C. Cox

Dave Dombrowski has made a number of good trades. We recently reviewed many of his deadline deals, and acquiring Anibal Sanchez and Doug Fister stood out among many acquisitions. Trading for Miguel Cabrera before the 2008 season will go down in history. The Tigers' President / CEO / General Manager has rarely given up prospects who went on to be good major leaguers.

But who can forget trading Jair Jurrjens and Gorkys Hernandez for Edgar Renteria? Renteria had a .332 batting average in 2006 for Atlanta, with walks and good power for a shortstop. But he showed up in Detroit overweight and imitated his lackluster 2005 season in Boston, who was also through with him after one year.

Jair Jurrjens made seven starts for Detroit in 2007, and while he struck out less than four per nine innings, his WHIP was only 1.14. He was only 21 years old, but there were concerns about durability. With the Braves he started all of 2008 and finished third in the Rookie of the Year balloting. He improved in 2009, starting 34 games covering 215 innings, with more than two strikeouts for every walk, a WHIP of 1.21, and ERA of 2.60.

The load took a toll, and he has battled injuries ever since. He was never a hard thrower, and now rarely touches 90 mph with the fastball. He mixes in a lot of changeups, and the occasional slider.

Jurrjens made ten starts for the Braves in 2012, but his ERA was 6.89 from too many hits and few strikeouts. The Orioles signed him to a minor league contract for 2013, where he made 16 decent starts for Triple-A Norfolk with a 4.18 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, and 4.9 strikeouts per nine innings. He was promoted to Baltimore for two appearances, but returned to Norfolk and then designated for assignment.

Jurrjens costs the Tigers nothing but salary, so there is no risk of losing another prospect. The move comes soon after reacquiring Jeremy Bonderman. The thought was that Bondo would fill a void in Toledo's rotation, which has nothing after Jose Alvarez. But Bondo has pitched instead in relief, with four innings, three strikeouts, and only one hit. Maybe Jurrjens is destined for the bullpen as well?

The market for relief pitchers is very tight this year. The addition of a second wild card means that most teams still have a shot at the playoffs. The demand is high and supply is low, so prices are high. The Orioles acquired Francisco Rodriguez from the Brewers yesterday for a mid-grade prospect. Dave Dombrowski is apparently taking a more creative approach to finding depth in the bullpen.

And Brandon Inge was designated by the Pirates yesterday. Since we are bringing back the 2007 team, any chance he is picked up to play shortstop in Toledo?