The Detroit Tigers have searched high and low for bullpen help in 2014, and their pursuit will apparently continue, now perhaps taking them right up to the eleventh hour before August 31.
Tuesday, the team claimed reliever Chad Qualls off waivers from the Houston Astros according to Peter Gammons. Qualls has some experience acting as Houston's closer and he's excelled. As of August 26, he has collected 14 saves, a 3.07 ERA and 39 strikeouts to only five walks. Detroit now has 24 hours to work a deal for Qualls, or risk losing him.
Qualls' low walk statistic is particularly appealing to Detroit. Joe Nathan has struggled through the closing job, and free passes have been part of the major reason why. Otherwise, Detroit's bullpen has been dealing with an injury to Joakim Soria, the inconsistent Nathan, an erratic Jim Johnson and a steady yet sometimes overworked Joba Chamberlain. That's led to many meltdowns.
Despite the eventual return of Soria sometime in September, significant questions remain about Johnson and Nathan, perhaps making Qualls an excellent late addition for an ever-intensifying pennant push if a deal can be reached. Another positive? Qualls won't become a free agent until 2016, and has a team option for then.
Many will also wonder about Detroit's lineup. John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press ran down some options the Tigers may have there prior to Sunday's deadline. Lowe cites the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo, who lists Daniel Nava (Red Sox), Andre Ethier (Dodgers) and Michael Cuddyer (Rockies) as possible options as it relates to adding offense. Most, however, have issues which could complicate a deal that would need to be reached fast.
From Cafardo via Lowe:
As was written last week, Nava should make the most sense as offensive additions for the Tigers go, given his profile and what's gone on in Detroit and Boston respectively in the past week. Dave Dombrowski seemed to unequivocally say no to adding lineup depth over the weekend, but as has been demonstrated in the past, misinformation is a part of the game in July and August.
Given the news on Qualls, it seems likely the Tigers will try to swing a few more deals by Sunday's deadline to improve their playoff chances. How many will be successful? Who will they target? That remains part of the mystery.
Max DeMara is the editor of @tigers_101. Follow the site there on Twitter, or like it on Facebook to connect with him.
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