As we’ve learned about Detroit Tigers’ president Scott Harris, he’s not going to stop churning the roster in search of help. Even since spring camp opened he’s signed another handful of relievers on minor league deals, and he added another on Saturday night, inking veteran right-hander Trevor Rosenthal to a minor league deal with an invite to camp.
Rosenthal’s early success has long been derailed by injury. He came up in the St. Louis Cardinals system as one of the hardest throwers out there. Debuting late in the 2012 season as a 22-year-old, a year later Rosenthal was one of the most valuable relivers in baseball. He rode his triple digit heater to a 2.2 fWAR season with huge strikeout totals and a 1.91 FIP.
After a bunch of great seasons with the Cardinals, Rosenthal blew out his UCL in 2017, was released by the Cardinals, and missed all of the 2018 season. His return in 2019 didn’t go very well as his control was wildly inconsistent. The Washington Nationals signed him to a one-year, $7M deal, but released him after just 12 appearances. The velocity was there, but at times he couldn’t hit the side of a barn. That continued when the Tigers picked him up in July of that year.
Rather than stick with Rosenthal, who despite the wildness possessed the best fastball in the entire organization, the Tigers gave up quickly. So it was the Kansas City Royals who were the beneficiaries as Rosenthal turned things around in 2020. They flipped him to the San Diego Padres for outfield prospect Edward Olivares, and Rosenthal finished with a dominant run for the Padres that helped solidify their bullpen heading into the postseason. Once they got there though, Rosenthal’s control faltered again under the pressure, and he’s been in the injury wilderness ever since.
Thoracic outlet syndrome required surgery in 2021, and the recovery from that, as well as a lat injury in 2022, kept him from making his return to the mound. After all this, it would be a great story if his career finally had its second act, but it’s anyone’s guess right now if Rosenthal has something left to offer. He looked pretty good in some video from his camp this spring, but now nearly three years removed from his brief success in 2020, finding the sweet spot in a delivery that veers from precision to total chaos, sometimes from pitch to pitch, is a longshot bet.