Still trying to fix some season-long bullpen breakdowns, the Tigers have reportedly claimed Astros closer Chad Qualls from the waiver wire and have until Wednesday to work out a trade for the 36-year-old right-hander.
Waiver-wire claims are generally a well-kept secret within big-league baseball’s front offices. News of the Qualls move was reported by Ken Rosenthal of Foxsports.com and by Peter Gammons, who has been with ESPN and MLB Network, among other outlets.
Qualls was placed on revocable, versus irrevocable, waivers, meaning the Astros have the right to remove him from the wire and keep him in Houston should a deal not be completed within the 48-hour window allowed.
Qualls has a 3.07 earned-run average in 49 appearances for the Astros, and a solid 1.16 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning). In 44 innings, Qualls has 38 strikeouts and, perhaps most attractive to the Tigers, has walked only five batters. He has allowed 46 hits, which is testimony to a repertoire that does not overpower as much as it leads to outs in the fashion of former Tigers closer Todd Jones.
The Tigers in 2013 traded with the Astros for another reliever, Jose Veras, and have had a smooth business relationship with Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow.
With their nominal closer, Joe Nathan, continuing to have issues (5.36 ERA), and with Joba Chamberlain among formerly steady arms who have been getting beaten up of late, the Tigers have been shopping hard for bullpen help, a situation that has been persistent and perilous for the Tigers since the end of 2012.