The Detroit Tigers have designated pitcher Drew VerHagen for assignment following Saturday’s 15-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals. VerHagen surrendered six earned runs on five hits and three walks in one inning of work to bring his season ERA up to 15.00. Since he is out of minor league options, he can not be sent to the minors without clearing waivers.
The move immediately opens up a spot on the active roster and on the 40-man roster. The Tigers now have seven days to either trade VerHagen, put him through waivers and release him, or outright him to the minor leagues. Since he was previously outrighted last season, he can refuse an outright assignment and declare himself a free agent either immediately or after the season, unless he is back on the roster by that time.
In six innings of work this season, VerHagen has allowed 10 earned runs, 10 hits, 10 walks, and one home run while striking out seven batters. He was expected to play a prominent role in the Detroit bullpen this season after a strong finish to the 2018 campaign in which he posted a 2.61 ERA in 31 innings of work after the All-Star break.
VerHagen is a 28-year-old righthander who has been used as a starter and reliever since being selected out of Vanderbilt by Detroit in the fourth round of the 2012 amateur draft. He was designated for assignment and outrighted to the minors at the end of April 2018. He was recalled in June and eventually settled in as a valuable relief pitcher.
Over parts of six major league seasons, VerHagen has a career ERA of 5.45 in 146 innings, which included four starts. VerHagen had thoracic outlet surgery back in 2016, and struggled to return to form before his run of success last season. However, he had some minor arm trouble this spring as well. He will likely clear waivers and be outrighted to Triple-A Toledo, since he would forfeit his salary should he opt for free agency.
A corresponding move has not yet been announced. Sandy Baez and Eduardo Jimenez are the only relief pitchers currently on the 40-man roster who are not in Detroit. Jose Cisnero, Zac Houston, and John Screiber could also take VerHagen’s place on the 40-man roster, or they could recall a starting pitcher for bullpen duty. Schreiber seems like the most likely option of the three at present; Cisnero and Houston both worked long outings on Saturday, and Schreiber has the best numbers of the group in 2019.
The Tigers could also save the 40-man roster spot for next weekend. Detroit will need to call up a pair of starters for Saturday’s doubleheadher against the Minnesota Twins. Ryan Carpenter will likely be one of the starters, but the other game is completely up in the air. Beau Burrows and Kyle Funkhouser are currently on the seven-day disabled list, while lefthanders Tyler Alexander and Matt Hall have struggled early on this season. Hall would make for the cleanest move, as he is already on the 40-man roster.