Detroit Tigers Rumors: Is Releiver Pat Neshek Worth Targeting?


If you haven’t noticed yet, you soon will. Detroit Tigers rumors are heating up and will continue to do so with GM meetings set to place in Phoenix. The deadline for players to accept or reject qualifying offers has also pasted as of 5 p.m. Monday.

Last offseason, most of the leagues top free agents signed before the winter meetings in December, so expect a lot of chatter and rumors from this weeks meetings. History tells us that the major deals may not come this week, but instead general managers like Dave Dombrowski may begin productive talks that lead to deals in the coming weeks.

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With all 30 general managers together and a bunch of agents in one place, it is inevitable that trade and signing discussions don’t take place.

So who will the Detroit Tigers target?

We know the two key areas of concern — the out field and the bull pen.

The struggles of the Tigers bullpen are no secret in 2014. Late game collapses and blown saves were the story for a majority of the season, despite trades for both Joakim Soria and David Price.

With that in mind, who will Dombrowski set his sights on this offseason?

How about St. Louis Cardinals reliever, Pat Neshek?

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Neshek put together a break through season in 2014, posting a 1.87 era in 71 plate appearances and going 7-2 along the way. Now, he’s expected to bring somewhat of a payday as a free-agent in 2015 and despite his breakout coming last year, he’s also 34-years-old.

Neshek was drafted by his hometown Minnesota Twins in 2002. He began his climb through the Twins minor league system as a reliever from the beginning. He made his MLB debut four years later and was impressive during his first two years with Minnesota.

He also has a vicious right-hander, sidearm delivery on his pitches that has proven to be a major problem for right-handed hitters. He has held righties to a .543 OPS in his career, and they hit just .176/.205/.236 in 156 plate appearances last year. He has a stellar career 3.59 strikeout-to-walk ratio against righties, and put up a ridiculous 46 strikeouts to four walks against righties in 2014.

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The problem with such a pitching delivery?

If you immediately guessed injuries you guessed right.

Neshek began having problems with his arm in 2008 when he tore his ulnar collateral ligament.

Instead of going the surgery route, Neshek made an attempt to rehab his arm without going under the knife. Unfortunately, rehabilitation was unsuccessful and relief pitcher would miss the next two years.

He bounced between Triple A and the majors with decent results for the San Diego Padres and Oakland Athletics from 2011 to 2013, before landing a job in St. Louis following spring training.

The good news is Neshek has seen the speed of his fastball increase in the latter stages of his career, a time when most major league pitchers see their speed drop off. In 2013 he was averaging just 90 mph with his fastball, in 2014 his velocity improved to 91.2 mph. He also upped his fastball usage to 50 percent.

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Signing a reliever after a career year is no doubt a risky move, but it has worked out for Detroit before. Tigers fans undoubtedly remember when Joaquin Benoit was signed?

Neshek is a good pitcher when healthy, but his ability to keep a good bill of health at the age of 34, and post Tommy John surgery nonetheless, remains a real unknown. Furthermore, it will be interesting to see what kind of value he has and what kind of contract he will draw as a free agent.

The Tigers are looking to strengthen their bullpen, but is a 34-year-old Neshek the answer?

For continued Detroit Tigers rumors, news, and coverage, stay logged into Detroit Jock City all offseason long. Also, be sure to give us a “like” on Facebook and a follow on Twitter below!