DETROIT -- Andrew Romine, who became part of history by playing all nine positions in a game for the Tigers in September, won't be playing any positions for the Tigers next season. The versatile super-utility player was claimed off waivers by the Mariners, part of a handful of roster moves
DETROIT -- Andrew Romine, who became part of history by playing all nine positions in a game for the Tigers in September, won't be playing any positions for the Tigers next season. The versatile super-utility player was claimed off waivers by the Mariners, part of a handful of roster moves announced by the Tigers on Thursday to pare down their roster and payroll.
Outfielders Alex Presley, Tyler Collins and Jim Adduci were outrighted to the Minor Leagues and are expected to become free agents. Right-hander Jeff Ferrell was also outrighted, and he will also be a free agent.
The Tigers also formally declined the $16 million club option on Anibal Sanchez, buying out his contract for $5 million and making him a free agent.
The moves reduce Detroit's 40-man roster to 34. Some of those spots will be taken up by prospects who must be added to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft. Other spots will be open for potential free-agent signings, though a good share of Detroit's work in that venue could involve Minor League deals and Spring Training invites. The Tigers could also be active in the Rule 5 Draft during next month's Winter Meetings.
The tougher decisions involved Romine and Presley. Both played impactful roles for the Tigers this past season, with Presley rising as a midseason callup from Triple-A Toledo to become a regular in the Tigers outfield by season's end. But both players were arbitration-eligible at a time when the Tigers have a growing number of arbitration cases and a payroll they'd like to continue shrinking.
MLB Trade Rumors, which uses past cases and player comparisons to make projections on arbitration salaries each offseason, projected Presley to make $1.1 million next year, and Romine $1.9 million.
The move ends a four-year Tiger tenure for Romine, who was acquired via trade in the middle of Spring Training in 2014 as a stopgap at shortstop once Jose Iglesias was diagnosed with season-ending fractures in both shins. The switch-hitting Romine never became an everyday player in Detroit, but he became the successor to Don Kelly, a versatile player with a knack for timely plays and a willingness to try every position the Tigers asked. He pitched in four games over his Tigers stint, including twice this year.
Then-manager Brad Ausmus decided to reward him for his work by making him the fifth player in Major League history to play all nine positions in a game, doing so on the next-to-last day of the regular season.
"He's not a guy that wants or gets a lot of attention," Ausmus said at the time. "He's unique in the sense that he can play pretty much anywhere, and you feel comfortable with him there, except that you don't want him to pitch or catch. It gives him kind of a day in the sun, so to speak."
The Mariners, who are trying to build a contender to challenge the World Champion Astros in the American League West, paid attention when Romine hit the waiver wire.
The move with Presley followed indications that both sides were interested in extending his tenure. The Tigers could still try to re-sign Presley to a Minor League contract, but he's now free to look around the Majors for another deal.
Called up around Memorial Day weekend, Presley not only stuck in Detroit, he took on a regular role for much of the stretch run once J.D. Martinez and Justin Upton were traded. The 31-year-old finished with a .314 batting average and .770 OPS, including a .347 average and .847 OPS over the season's final month.
Presley likely wouldn't have the same amount of playing time in Detroit next year if the Tigers outfield stays the way it is, with Nicholas Castellanos in right field, JaCoby Jones in center and Michael Mahtook in left. But with an all right-handed-hitting outfield, Presley's left-handed bat and positional versatility could have filled a fourth outfielder role.
The Tigers had taken Collins off their 40-man roster early in the season, then added the 27-year-old back when they needed outfield depth in September. The former sixth-round Draft pick batted just .193 (29-for-150) with the Tigers this season, his fourth year bouncing between Detroit and Triple-A Toledo.
Like Presley, Adduci was a Minor League signing by the Tigers who made an impact in Detroit, albeit for a shorter time. The well-traveled 32-year-old opened his Tiger tenure with back-to-back three-hit games in April, and was batting .318 when he went on the disabled list for an oblique strain in mid-May. By the time he was healthy near the end of June, Presley had a spot, relegating Adduci to Triple-A Toledo until mid-July.
Adduci finished with a .241 (20-for-83) average in Detroit with one home run and 10 RBIs.
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.