DETROIT -- While one Tigers prospect from the Justin Verlander trade is about to get his chance at a regular role, another is about to get released.
Both catchers from Detroit’s Opening Day roster are now on the 10-day IL. Wilson Ramos has been there since last Friday with a lumbar spine strain. The Tigers are optimistic Ramos could return when his 10 days are up heading into next week’s series at Seattle, and Greiner could return in a week and a half. Until then, the team will finish their homestand this week with the catching duo that began the year at Triple-A Toledo.
To fill Greiner’s spot, the Tigers selected catcher/outfielder Eric Haase from Toledo. The 28-year-old Detroit-area native, who played in seven games for his hometown team last September, batted 6-for-17 (.353) with two doubles and three RBIs for the Mud Hens so far this season. He’ll start behind the plate Thursday against Royals lefty Daniel Lynch, but his ability to play left field gives the Tigers an extra right-handed bat.
“I can see him doing a couple things,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “And the more he hits, the more that some doors will open up for him. But as of right now, it’ll be a little timeshare behind the plate with him and Jake, and then if I can mix him in maybe against a lefty in the outfield or if he gets hot, I’ll find a spot for him.”
The 26-year-old Rogers, the Tigers’ No. 14 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, has been viewed as defensively ready for a big league job the last few years. The question has been his offense. He had a two-run single in his season debut Saturday against the Twins, and went 1-for-3 after stepping in for Greiner in the fifth inning Tuesday night. This will be his first regular stretch of games since his first Detroit stint in the summer of 2019.
“I think his [hitting] plan has been a little bit better,” Hinch said. “I think his understanding of what he needs to do has been better. There’s always going to be questions on how consistent he can be until he logs some time up here and gets some at-bats. It’s a work in progress as always, but the catching side has been very clean.”
Former top prospect placed on release waivers
To make room for Haase on the 40-man roster, the Tigers placed former top prospect Franklin Pérez on unconditional release waivers Wednesday, one day after announcing the right-hander will undergo shoulder surgery.
The move, while jarring for someone of his former status, isn’t entirely a surprise, due to procedural reasons. Pérez was one of three pitching prospects on Detroit’s 40-man roster either undergoing or recovering from major surgery. Joey Wentz, Detroit’s No. 7 prospect, is on track to return to pitching this summer following Tommy John surgery. Alex Faedo, the No. 10 prospect, is out for the year after undergoing Tommy John surgery last December. None are on the Major League injured list because they would accumulate service time.
Pérez has pitched just 27 innings since joining the Tigers as the headline prospect in the Verlander deal on Aug. 31, 2017, and he isn’t expected to pitch again until at least next year, at which point he'd be out of Minor League options. If he clears waivers, the Tigers could try to re-sign him to a Minor League deal to keep him in the organization while he rehabs. However, the 23-year-old would be free to sign with any club he chooses.