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Detroit Tigers called up Jacob Turner from Toledo (except they couldn’t)

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Simple math is not so simple when you need a starter ASAP

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Los Angeles Angels Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Jacob Turner was all set to start Sunday’s game in Minnesota for the Detroit Tigers against the Twins. The Tigers has announced they were calling up their former first round draft pick and had designated Zach McAllister for assignment. It was McAllister that the Tigers had signed on August 10th, when Turner was designated for assignment. Turner cleared waivers and was outrighted to Toledo on August 13th.

And that’s the problem. According to Major League Rules, a player who has been optioned or outrighted to the minor leagues may not be recalled to the major league club until at least ten days have passed. In the case of an outright assignment, the clock starts ticking on the date of the assignment. But even if the time period began as of the date of the DFA, ten days had not passed, so what were the Tigers thinking?

Detroit General Manager, Al Avila had this explanation for MLB.com

“We had actually discussed before either going with a bullpen day or going with a starting pitcher,” Detroit general manager Al Avila said. “And it just so happened that Turner’s day to start fell today. So we put that into action. Then [Detroit director of baseball operations Sam Menzin] calls and said, ‘Hey, I just checked, and Turner hasn’t been down 10 days.’ So at that time, we reversed everything.”

With Turner ineligible to be recalled, the Tigers started Buck Farmer in what was to be a “bullpen game”. Having already DFA’d McAllister, the club recalled Daniel Stumpf, who had been optioned to Toledo on August 8th, which happens to be a little bit more than ten days by the time August 19th rolled around. Stumpf threw two scoreless innings in the fifth and sixth frames.

Farmer had not allowed a run when he left after 2-1/3 innings, leaving the bases loaded runners on second and third. Zac Reininger came in and allowed two runs to score.

Turner is no stranger to roster moves, having pitched for five major league clubs including Detroit and Miami twice each. He has been outrighted six times — meaning he had to clear waivers each time and go unclaimed, possibly qualifying him for America’s Most Unwanted list. He has been called up twice this season, giving up ten runs in 5-2/3 innings for the Marlins and pitching just one inning while allowing seven runs, five earned, for the Tigers earlier this month.

The major league rules are actually very clear about the ten day rule. Major league rule 11(j):

Rule 11 (J)(1) If the player’s contract has been assigned outright by a Major League Club to a Minor League Club, the player’s contract may be reacquired at any time during the year by the assignor Major League Club without restrictions, except:

(B) within 10 days from the date of the outright assignment to the Minor League Club, if the assignment was made during the championship season.

There are just three exceptions to the ten day rule:

A: the player is recalled to replace another player on the major league roster who goes on the disabled list or the bereavement list,

B: the minor league team where the player was assigned has completed its season, including playoffs, or,

C: the player was traded to another major league team.

Since none of these exceptions applied in Turner’s case, it’s pretty clear he could not be recalled until August 23rd, 2018.