Jupiter, Fla. — The Tigers had hoped Steven Moya would pressure them during 2017’s spring camp.
Force the Tigers to load onto their 25-man Opening Day roster a 6-foot-7, left-handed hitter with 450-foot home run power. Make it impossible to not take him north when he was out of minor-league options and he would be slurped up if he, for a moment, were exposed to that shopping aisle known as the waiver wire.
But it didn’t happen. Moya, 25, never seriously challenged for an outfield job. And even after he spent part of this week on waivers, for all other big-league clubs to inspect, there were no takers.
He cleared and has been outrighted to Triple A Toledo where the Tigers yet hope a hitter with his long-distance bat can figure out professional pitching and at least qualify at some point as a big-league designated hitter.
“I’m glad we have him,” said Tigers manager Brad Ausmus. “You never know.”
The Tigers will hope with the Mud Hens that Moya can at least smooth into a more consistent hitter who might have a future, with them or with another club, as a potential designated hitter, given that he remains severely challenged on defense.
“I spoke with him earlier today,” Ausmus said as the Tigers got ready for an evening Grapefruit League game against the Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium. “I said, personally, I hope to see you again.
“If not, you’re in the big leagues.”
Ausmus’ reference was to Moya and his waivers wait. Had another team claimed him, Moya would have been placed on that club’s 25-man roster and would have been headed for a new life with another club on Opening Day.
The Tigers had another waiver-wire bypass Friday when they learned Daniel Stumpf, a left-handed reliever, had cleared after the Tigers took him in December’s Rule 5 draft.
Stumpf was obliged to make the 25-man roster or be placed on waivers. Once cleared, he must be offered back to his old team, which in this case is the Royals.
But because he is a second-time Rule 5 pick, having had a spring-camp audition with the Phillies in 2016, he can also opt for free agency.
Should he and the Royals not re-unite, the Tigers have implied they’ll try and sign Stumpf to a minor-league deal.
Stumpf pitched in eight Grapefruit League games, putting together a 4.15 ERA and 1.15 WHIP. He had a mid-90s fastball. But he walked five batters in 82/3 innings, and as Ausmus noted, “(Blaine) Hardy and (Kyle) Ryan” pitched better as the left-handers who most figured in the Tigers’ 2017 plans.
One-time Tigers catcher Bryan Holaday is back with the organization after signing a minor-league contract.
Holaday, 29, was drafted by the Tigers (sixth round, 2010) and played in Detroit from 2012-15 before he was traded to the Rangers. He later played for the Red Sox, and began spring camp with the Phillies until he was released this week.
Holaday is expected to work as part of a tandem at Triple A Toledo alongside John Hicks.