Tigers 'open' to idea of reuniting with Dirks

Tigers 'open' to idea of reuniting with Dirks

SAN DIEGO -- The Tigers continue to seek outfield help. Meanwhile, Andy Dirks is going to linger on the free-agent market, looking for a roster that he can make on Opening Day after being non-tendered by the Blue Jays last week.

Could a reunion be in the works?

"I'd say we'd be open-minded to it," Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said on Monday at the Winter Meetings.

So, too, is Dirks. His agent, Will McGuffey, said they haven't closed on the door on it, or anything else.

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McGuffey said on Monday there's a healthy amount of interest in his client, who is fully cleared for baseball activity after missing the 2014 season while recovering from back surgery and hamstring problems. McGuffey would not comment specifically on whether that interest includes Detroit, which could have brought Dirks back to camp as a non-roster invitee had Toronto not claimed him on waivers. Dirks was eligible for arbitration before being non-tendered.

The Blue Jays' need for Dirks evaporated when they traded for Seattle's Michael Saunders. In that sense, the non-tender might have been a blessing in disguise, allowing Dirks to pick a situation.

At the same time, Toronto's saga was a cautionary tale, even if it wasn't one of Dirks' creation. With corner outfielders in abundance in free agency and the trade market, Dirks is likely to wait until bigger-name outfielders move before figuring out the destination that gives him the best chance to make a club.

That could well be the Tigers, who currently have just three outfielders with a decent amount of Major League experience on their 40-man roster. Of those three, only Anthony Gose bats left-handed. Prospects Tyler Collins and Steven Moya are also left-handed hitters, but they have a combined 29 games and 33 plate appearances in the Majors.

"We think Collins is ready to play," Dombrowski said.

If the Tigers can bring back Dirks without taking up a roster spot, though, that could be irrelevant. It would take some contractual creativity, but at this point, the difference between a Major League contract and a Minor League deal might be secondary for Dirks to finding a chance to stick on a big league roster for Opening Day and beyond.

If the Tigers trade for a more proven outfielder, of course, such a signing would be far less likely.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.