Tigers make Boyd reunion official with 1-year deal

December 14th, 2022

DETROIT -- The Tigers’ search for starting pitching led back to a familiar face. Left-hander Matthew Boyd, Detroit’s Opening Day starter in 2020 and 2021, officially signed a one-year deal with the club on Wednesday.

The deal is worth $10 million plus another $1 million in incentives, according to a report from MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, though the club did not confirm the value.

The signing not only reunites Boyd with his longtime organization after a year away, it reunites the 31-year-old left-hander with new Tigers president of baseball operations Scott Harris, who signed Boyd last March while Harris was the Giants’ general manager. San Francisco eventually traded Boyd to Seattle, where he was a multi-inning reliever for his hometown club in its playoff run, but Boyd continued to think highly of Detroit and Harris.

"He’s really good at what he does. His attention to detail is amazing," Boyd said of Harris in October. "The conversations that we had in the clubhouse, he's so in tune with everything with the team. He's going to be a great fit in Detroit. He finds ways to get wins in every aspect of the ballclub and make it a really well-tuned machine. I was so impressed with him in San Francisco, in our conversations during the signing process and throughout the year. Detroit got a real winner in Scott. I’m excited to see what he’s going to do going forward."

Likewise, Boyd never lost his fondness for Detroit, despite being non-tendered almost exactly a year ago following flexor tendon surgery on his left arm. The Tigers at the time were looking for pitching depth, and they didn’t expect Boyd to return to action until closer to midseason.

A year later, the situation has flipped. Boyd didn’t pitch for the Mariners until September, but he did so effectively, allowing just two runs on five hits over 13 1/3 innings. He walked eight but struck out 13. His slider remained a dominant pitch, while his fastball averaged 92.6 miles per hour, according to Statcast, just above his pre-surgery velocity.

The Tigers, meanwhile, have been seeking rotation help amidst a rash of injuries to young starters. Tarik Skubal, Boyd’s fellow left-hander and good friend, is expected to miss the start of the season while recovering from flexor tendon surgery. Former top prospect Casey Mize will miss most or all of the 2023 season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.

The Tigers’ rotation currently has Eduardo Rodriguez, Matt Manning and question marks after them. Spencer Turnbull is expected back from Tommy John surgery and should be ready for Spring Training. Joey Wentz had a strong September stretch in the rotation, followed by a dominant Arizona Fall League, and he should be in competition for a rotation spot. So should Beau Brieske, whose encouraging rookie season was cut short by right forearm soreness.

Injuries aside, the Tigers know what they’re getting in Boyd, whose seven-year Detroit tenure included 143 starts, 63 of them covering 355 2/3 innings from 2018 to '19 before the forearm issue stalled his progress. When he’s right, he’s a reliable starter on the mound and a valuable presence in the clubhouse who’s eager to mentor young pitchers.

“Detroit is a second home and always will be,” Boyd said before making his Mariners debut against the Tigers at Comerica Park in September.