Dirks might yet get a spring invitation from Tigers

Tom Gage
The Detroit News

The Tigers are going to announce their list of non-roster invitees next week.

Will outfielder Andy Dirks be on it? Given the chance Friday to say he won't, the Tigers didn't rule it out.

"I believe he is still exploring his options," Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski said via email.

It's been a busy offseason for Dirks, who missed all of last year because of back surgery.

The Blue Jays claimed him off waivers Oct. 31, and Dirks was excited about his chances of playing for them. But Toronto didn't tender him a contract for this season, so he became a free agent a month after being claimed.

And he's still a free agent.

But instead of facing a platoon situation at one of their corner outfield positions, as the Tigers did before the acquisition of Yoenis Cespedes, they are set with Cespedes and J.D. Martinez.

Dirks, who turns 29 on Jan. 24, still would be worth looking at this spring, however, if the Tigers could depend on him being fully recovered from his surgery.

They also admitted earlier they would not have taken a chance on losing him through waivers if they could have depended at the time on him being ready to play.

"It wasn't an arbitration thing or a contract thing," Dombrowski said in November. "It was his health."

Dirks still can help a team. He proved that by hitting .322 for the Tigers in 2012. But the average dropped to .256 in 2013.

Still, he figured highly in their plans last spring before his back problem intervened — and before the Tigers more than offset his loss by having Martinez develop into an offensive threat.

The opportunity that's available for Dirks with the Tigers, in that case, has diminished substantially.

But possibly not disappeared.

"Andy has not made up his mind on what he is doing," Dombrowski said. "Our situation is a little different than before the winter meetings since we now have Cespedes and not a platoon situation."