As Tigers sign veteran Julio Teheran, Hinch keeping focus internal

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Lakeland, Fla. — Every day, it seems, the Tigers are either adding or in talks to add more pitching.

Veteran Wily Peralta agreed to a minor-league deal Thursday night. And on Friday, as talk swirled of a possible reunion with Rick Porcello, Tigers general manager Al Avila ended up with a very different veteran right-handed starter.

The News confirmed Friday night the Tigers had signed 30-year-old Julio Teheran to a minor-league contract and invited him to big-league camp.

Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Julio Teheran throws.

The deal was first reported by MLB Network's Jon Heyman, who said Teheran will make a base salary of $3 million if he makes the club. Also, if he makes at least 20 appearances, he will earn another million.

Stats: Julio Teheran's 2020, career statistics 

“We’re definitely looking for more pitching as we speak,” Avila said on Tuesday. “Whether it be a major-league contract or a minor-league deal with a camp invite. We’re definitely looking. For pitching in general, but one more starter would be ideal.”

In Teheran, the Tigers are banking on a return to form. From 2013 through 2019, he made 222 starts with the Braves, averaging 191 innings. He posted a 76-72 record with a 3.64 ERA and a 1.2 WHIP. 

Last year with the Angels, though, was a disaster for him. Never a hard thrower, the velocity and spin rates on all his primary pitches dipped, as did his effectiveness. He gave up 35 runs in 31 innings. 

If he can bounce back, his presence in the Tigers rotation would afford the club protection for Michael Fulmer, who is still working back from Tommy John surgery, as well as extra time to incubate prospects Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal and Matt Manning.

For manager AJ Hinch, though, the speculation and the signings put him in somewhat of an awkward spot. Certainly, any manager wants as many legitimate options in camp; can’t have too much competition at any position. But what message is it sending to the players that he’s coaching every day?

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“Inside that clubhouse, inside this building, I want these players to know that we have enough,” Hinch said Friday morning. “We have enough quality and we have enough quantity. It’s out of their control whether we add players or not.

“I’m not going to look my players in the face or be quoted saying we need more pitching. That’s not showing confidence in the group that we have.”

Hinch, again, is not opposed to adding talent. And as one who has held front office jobs in the big leagues before, he understands the process better than most.

“But showing up for work every day, I’m not looking at what we don’t have,” he said. “I’m looking at what we do have and the quality that is associated with that. We’ve got guys who can do a good job.”

Also on Friday , the Tigers signed 28-year-old right-hander Ben Taylor to a minor-league deal and assigned him to the club's mini-camp.

Taylor, who pitched briefly for the Red Sox (2017) and Indians (2018), did not pitch at any level last season. He posted a strikeout rate of 10.4 per nine innings in five minor league seasons (305 strikeouts in 263 innings).

Twitter: @cmccosky