Tigers sign Josh Harrison to one-year deal
Most of the focus in free agency has been on the star-level talent like Manny Machado (who just signed, of course), Bryce Harper and Craig Kimbrel, but there are plenty of other very solid major leaguers out there as well. No, there aren’t 100 free agents out there who could and should get major-league deals like many have claimed, but there are still more than you typically see at this point on the calendar. One of the lower-profile players was Josh Harrison, and his free agency came to an end on Wednesday. The utility infielder, who primarily plays third and second base, signed on to play for the Tigers on a one-year contract. The financial commitment is not yet known. Obviously the Tigers are not going to be contenders in 2019 barring something wild happening, but this is what rebuilding teams should be doing more of. They still have to field a team, and rather than rush a prospect (which doesn’t really happen much these days, to be fair) or push a Quad-A player to a role above his means, they should be signing lower-tier free agents who have had MLB success to fill holes on the roster. They don’t need to dole out massive deals to older players, but guys like Harrison help them keep young players in proper roles while also potentially helping them in the summer as a trade chip. On top of that, it gives the fans a more legitimate roster for which they can root. So, I like this move, even if Harrison isn’t really a star but instead more of a one-win player. Every contribution counts. Oh, and if he does become a trade chip and Dustin Pedroia’s knee goes south, the Red Sox could be in on those talks.
Indians sign Tyler Clippard to minor-league deal
We continue with the American League Central News Hour with a minor-league signing from the division favorite. Tyler Clippard, right-handed reliever, signed a MiLB pact with Cleveland on Wednesday for a base of $1.75 million if he makes the majors. The first instinct for a Red Sox fan when they see a reliever sign a minor-league deal is to, of course, wonder why the Red Sox didn’t get that done. If you think they should have offered a guaranteed major-league deal to get Clippard, that’s one argument and I don’t think it’s unfair. I’m not entirely sure I agree because I’m not a huge fan of the righty due to his extreme fly ball and subsequent home run tendencies. That said, he’s probably an upgrade over the other middle relievers, so I certainly see the argument. If you are wondering why they wouldn’t get him on a minor-league deal, well, it takes two to tango. If you’re Clippard, would you rather go to Boston, who has signed a billion other relievers to minor-league deals with whom you’d have to compete in spring training. Or, would you rather go to Cleveland who should be a playoff team, doesn’t have the bullpen depth they usually have and has a more straightforward path to the majors. It’s an easy choice to me.