LAKELAND, Fla. -- Mark Lowe was one of the first signings of the Tigers' 2015-16 offseason. He will not be part of the Tigers bullpen in '17. Detroit placed the veteran right-hander on unconditional release waivers Sunday, parting ways midway through a two-year contract.Lowe was one of several moves Sunday
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Mark Lowe was one of the first signings of the Tigers' 2015-16 offseason. He will not be part of the Tigers bullpen in '17. Detroit placed the veteran right-hander on unconditional release waivers Sunday, parting ways midway through a two-year contract.
Lowe was one of several moves Sunday from the Tigers, who also sent relief prospect Joe Jimenez and former Opening Day center fielder Anthony Gose to Minor League camp along with pitchers Edward Mujica, Arcenio Leon, Ruben Alaniz and Logan Kensing, infielder Dominic Ficociello and utilityman Juan Perez. Catcher John Hicks was optioned to Triple-A Toledo.
The moves cut Detroit's camp roster to 36 players, with six days to go before the team heads north.
The 33-year-old Lowe was one of the big pieces of the Tigers' bullpen revamp after the 2015 season, signing a two-year, $11 million contract as a free agent during the Winter Meetings. He was coming off an impressive comeback campaign, having posted a 1.96 ERA and 2.57 FIP between Seattle and Toronto in '15.
The Tigers were hoping he could do for their bullpen what Joaquin Benoit did five years earlier, stabilizing the setup role and carrying leads to the closer. But Lowe never found that 2015 form, struggling through the '16 season while pitching in mainly low-pressure situations as he worked with coaches on mechanical adjustments and other changes.
Lowe posted a 7.11 ERA in 54 appearances in 2016, having allowed 57 hits -- 12 of them home runs -- over 49 1/3 innings, with 21 walks and 49 strikeouts. He came to Spring Training hoping a combination of offseason workouts and mechanical tweaks would give him back the mid-90s fastball that he had in '15. He made another tweak midway through camp, taking the ball out of his glove sooner in his delivery.
It didn't work. Lowe gave up seven runs (five earned) on 11 hits in 8 2/3 innings this spring, walking three and striking out seven.
Manager Brad Ausmus called it one of toughest moves he has had to make in four years on the job.
"It wasn't lack of effort on his part," Ausmus said. "He cares. He works his butt off. He's accountable to his teammates. It's just, for whatever reason, it didn't work. He was really the one guy I hoped to see bounce back a little bit, just because he's a great fit on any team because of the work ethic and the personality and the character.
"I guess I'm disappointed, but I'm not disappointed in him, because he was trying. I'd rather he was pitching the way he did in 2015. If he was like that, it would be a no-brainer, because I love having the guy on the team."
Once Lowe clears waivers, he'll be a free agent. Any club will be able to sign him for the Major League minimum, with the Tigers covering the rest of his salary, approximately $5 million. The money still counts against the Tigers payroll for luxury tax purposes.
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast.