Detroit Tigers Free Agency: Closer Joakim Soria Interested in Returning to Club


According to tweets by the Detroit News’ Tony Paul, the Detroit Tigers and free agent reliever Joakim Soria have mutual interest in reuniting this offseason.

Soria spent parts of two seasons with the Detroit Tigers after being acquired around the 2014 trade deadline and dealt away around the 2015 deadline. In those two seasons he threw 52.0 innings with the Tigers and a combined 60.0 innings with the Rangers and Pirates (33 innings and 27 innings respectively).

It’s interesting to compare his Tigers statistics to his non-Tigers statistics for these two seasons considering considering the similarity in total innings and time frame.


With the Tigers he got good ERA results, but his FIP was troubling and his secondary statistics were nothing special. He didn’t walk a lot of batters but he wasn’t striking a ton out either and he allowed home runs at double the league average rate. He was not really pitching like a player who should be trusted to close games for a team with championship aspirations.

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Book-ending that performance was a half year in Texas in 2014 and a half year in Pittsburgh in 2015. In those innings he was a bona fide relief ace, increasing his strikeout rate by nearly 50% and not allowing a single home run over 60 innings.

It’s not immediately clear what caused the difference. Was it coaching? Were the Tigers asking Soria to go with a game plan or approach that he wasn’t comfortable with? Was he dealing with an injury with the Tigers or was he not able to recover in between outings the same way as with the other teams? Are we looking at simple random variation?

It’s quite possibly any or all of those factors (and others I’m not smart enough to immediately think up). If the Tigers really are intent on pursuing Soria in free agency, they’re going to want to study the matter in order to get the most out of him.