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Tigers outright 8 players; John Hicks, Blaine Hardy elect free agency

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Daniel Stumpf and Victor Alcantara are now also free agents.

Detroit Tigers v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

The Detroit Tigers announced a series of roster moves on Thursday afternoon to clear space on their 40-man roster. The big ones? Catcher John Hicks, righthander Victor Alcantara, and left-handed pitchers Daniel Stumpf and Blaine Hardy have refused outright assignments to Triple-A Toledo and are now free agents.

Additionally, Detroit has outrighted right-handed pitchers Eduardo Jiménez and Zac Reininger, left-handed pitcher Nick Ramirez and outfielder Dustin Peterson to Triple-A Toledo. Those four will have the opportunity to elect free agency after the World Series is completed.

The most notable name on this list is, of course, Hardy. He was outrighted two days ago and both cleared waivers and refused the assignment to Triple-A. Appearing over parts of six seasons with the Tigers, Hardy has served in both the bullpen and rotation. He and his wife, Nicky, have well-earned reputations as fan favorites. However, he was set to earn a raise this year in arbitration and the Tigers decided to continue prioritize cutting payroll.

Hicks also served in a major role during the 2019 season; he appeared in 95 games and logged time both behind the plate and at first base. While he was not slated to take up much playing time when the season began, he benefited from underperformance by starting catcher Grayson Greiner and a lack of depth at first. His own abilities, however, leave quite a bit to be desired.

Batting only .210/.240/.379 and striking out 32.7 percent of the time isn’t a recipe for success. That’s particularly the case given Hicks’ lackluster defense. All told, he concluded the season worth -1.2 wins above replacement. Although Rogers and Greiner don’t have much offensive upside either, they are younger, offer better defense, and still have time to improve.

Stumpf was selected by the Tigers in the major-league phase of the 2017 Rule 5 draft. He wasn’t a big difference-maker during the regular season, limited to 29 innings thanks to injury. In addition to those games, the lefty was dynamite in a short stint in Triple-A Toledo. His 14.09 strikeouts per nine innings led to a 0.59, but unfortunately, that didn’t translate to the majors. His 4.34 ERA is par for the course among the three seasons of his Tigers career, but a 5.08 FIP is the worst he’s posted yet.

Alcántara, a pitcher the Tigers received in exchange for Cameron Maybin from the Angels, has always struggled with giving up walks. He was able to hit keep it in the strike zone during the 2018 season, but peripherals indicated regression was on the horizon, and it hit him hard in 2019. His walks doubled and strikeout rate plummeted, combining to create a bad season for the once well-regarded prospect.

Although the group are now free agents, they may yet return for the 2020 season. A similar situation occurred with Stumpf in 2017, but he returned to the Tigers on a minor league deal. If any of them do return to the organization, they will probably have the inside track to their former jobs. As for the other four who received their outright assignments on Thursday, their fate will be decided within the next few days. None of the seven have a large impact on the Tigers’ plans for roster construction entering next season.

The motivation for this recent flurry of moves is primarily to make room for new 40-man roster additions, with as many as ten players with decent cases to be protected from the upcoming Rule 5 draft, especially in light of a 26th man to be added to major league rosters in 2020.