Las Vegas — The Tigers have apparently thrown another lifeline to a veteran starting pitcher, another former All-Star, looking for a bounceback season.
The Tigers on Monday made official the signing of right-handed pitcher Tyson Ross to a one-year deal worth $5.75 million.
"We had good scouting reports on him," general manager Al Avila said Monday after the deal was finalized. "And our analytics department liked him, too. For us, he's a legit pitcher and he's a good candidate to get even better in 2019.
"His overall stuff is pretty darn good."
Ross, 31, finished the 2018 season with the Cardinals and pitched well, going 2-0 with a 2.73 ERA in nine games (one start). He spent most of the season with the Padres, making 22 starts. It was his first full season in the big leagues since 2015.
Combined, Ross (6-6, 245 pounds) pitched 149.2 innings last year, posting a 4.15 ERA and 1.296 WHIP, with 122 strikeouts and 62 walks.
"Last year, toward the end, he started pitching better," Avila said. "He's a big, strong guy and our medical people gave him a clean bill of health and that was important. He should fit right into our starting rotation."
Ross' best work came in 2014 and 2015 with the Padres. In 64 starts, he had a 3.03 ERA and a 1.2 WHIP. He averaged 9.4 strikeouts per nine innings and 3.6 walks. But his career was derailed in 2016 when he underwent surgery to correct thoracic outlet syndrome.
He hasn’t been the same pitcher since.
His fastball velocity, once averaging between 93 and 94 mph, stayed at 91-92 mph last season and he threw mostly sliders (41 percent).
"From the list of pitchers we were looking at, he was one of the top guys we were targeting," Avila said.
Ross and veteran lefty Matt Moore, whom the Tigers signed for $2.5 million last week, will compete for a rotation spot next season with Michael Fulmer, Jordan Zimmermann, Matthew Boyd, Daniel Norris and Spencer Turnbull.
"You need depth and you want competition," Avila said. "We're not going to just hand over a job. You have to win a job."
Avila said there were also health concerns within the projected rotation that factored into the decision to add two veteran pitchers — specifically with Fulmer (coming off knee surgery) and Zimmermann (coming off core muscle surgery).
"And Norris, too, was injured for most of last season," he said.
Norris pitched this winter in the Dominican and in Japan to get his innings up, but all told, he worked less than 70 innings in 2018. The Tigers might have to limit his innings next season.
"We needed to have pitching depth, for sure," Avila said.
Avila received a medical report on Fulmer Monday.
"He's actually fine," he said. "He's working out in Lakeland and he has full, pain-free range of motion in the (surgically-repaired right) knee. And he had no discomfort at the surgery site.
"Right now he's good and we expect him to be ready to go for spring training."
Fulmer will have another follow-up visit with Dr. James Andrews on Wednesday.