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Tigers, Blaine Hardy strike deal, avoid arbitration

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Detroit —The Tigers and left-handed reliever Blaine Hardy have agreed to a one-year contract, avoiding arbitration, the team announced Saturday.

The deal is worth about $750,000, a slight raise from last season. He made barely above the league minimum last year, about $520,000.

Hardy, 30, has been a member of the Tigers bullpen the last four years, though he's coming off his rockiest season. In 2017, he posted a 5.94 ERA and a 1.770 WHIP, and spent much of the year trying to figure things out at Triple-A Toledo. He allowed seven homers, more than his first three years total.

His first three seasons, he appeared in 129 games and posted a 3.00 ERA and 1.381 WHIP.

Hardy will enter spring training competing with the likes of Chad Bell, Jairo Labourt and Daniel Stumpf for the situational lefty spots.

Hardy is a former 22nd-round pick by the Kansas City Royals. He signed with the Tigers in April 2013.

The Tigers on Saturday also confirmed four minor-league free-agent signings: right-handers Kevin Comer (first-round pick, Toronto Blue Jays, 2011) and Mark Montgomery (11th round, New York Yankees, 2011), infielder Niko Goodrum (second round, Minnesota Twins, 2010) and first baseman/outfielder Chad Huffman (second round, San Diego Padres, 2006).

Montgomery is intriguing, coming off a fine season at Triple A for the St. Louis Cardinals. In 2017, he had a 0.915 WHIP and 73 strikeouts in 66.2 innings.

The Tigers are expected to be very active in the minor-league free-agent market this winter, as they look for bargains. General manager Al Avila has made it clear the rebuilding franchise won't be a big-time player for big-time free agents this offseason.