DETROIT -- The Tigers have a plethora of tough decisions ahead of them this offseason as they move ahead with their rebuild. Adding Franklin Perez to the 40-man roster was a no-brainer, so much so that they did it a day early.Facing a Tuesday deadline to protect prospects from next
DETROIT -- The Tigers have a plethora of tough decisions ahead of them this offseason as they move ahead with their rebuild. Adding Franklin Perez to the 40-man roster was a no-brainer, so much so that they did it a day early.
Facing a Tuesday deadline to protect prospects from next month's Rule 5 Draft, the Tigers got a head start by selecting the 20-year-old Perez, their third-ranked prospect and the 67th-ranked prospect across the Minor Leagues, according to MLB Pipeline. Barring a late surprise, he'll likely be the Tigers' only roster addition.
The move means Perez will be in Major League camp when Tigers pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in February, giving manager Ron Gardenhire and pitching coach Rick Anderson a chance to see the talented right-hander up close. It doesn't mean Perez, who missed most of this past season with injuries, will be headed to the big leagues anytime soon.
The Rule 5 Draft, scheduled for Dec. 13 to cap next month's Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, allows teams to pluck eligible prospects from other organizations if they're willing to carry the players on their Major League roster for a full season. Players signed or drafted at age 18 or younger are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft after five professional seasons. Players signed or drafted by age 19 or older are eligible after four pro seasons. For Draft purposes, players signed or selected out of high school in 2014 or earlier are eligible, as are players drafted out of college in '15. Players who are on a club's 40-man roster, however, are not eligible.
The Tigers got a head start on protecting some of their top prospects when they added Christin Stewart, Matt Hall and Spencer Turnbull to their roster as September callups.
Perez has had anticipation around him ever since Detroit acquired him from Houston as the top-ranked prospect in the Justin Verlander trade 15 months ago. The 6-foot-3 hurler, then still a teenager, immediately became Detroit's top-ranked prospect and a key part of the Tigers' rotation of the future.
Perez entered last spring ranked 39th among MLB Pipeline's top 100 prospects before injuries limited him to just 19 1/3 innings between the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and Class A Advanced Lakeland. A lat strain in Spring Training sidelined him until June, then shoulder inflammation prompted Detroit to end his rehab assignment and shelve him for the rest of the year. He's expected to be ready for Spring Training.
Though the Tigers have other prospects eligible for the Rule 5 Draft, Perez was the only one in the Tigers' top 10. The next-highest ranked eligible prospect is outfielder Jose Azocar (19th), who was left open to the Draft last winter. The other two eligible prospects in the Tigers top 30 are left-hander Tyler Alexander (24th) and outfielder Derek Hill (29th), the latter a former first-round pick.
Unranked prospects who are eligible to be drafted include outfielder Cam Gibson and reliever Paul Voelker.
The Tigers still have a roster spot open if they want to add any other prospects, but they also want to keep a spot open leading into the Rule 5 Draft so that they're eligible to select a player. Detroit used the top overall pick in last year's Rule 5 Draft on outfielder Victor Reyes, and could seek another athletic position player next month depending on who's left over. Detroit could also open more space ahead of the Nov. 30 deadline to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players. Catcher James McCann is among the decisions the club faces.
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.