Tigers close door on bringing Bonderman back

Tigers close door on bringing Bonderman back

Tigers close door on bringing Bonderman back
DETROIT -- What little opening the Tigers left for Jeremy Bonderman to return has now officially closed. Team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski told the Detroit News that the club will not re-sign it right-handed rotation member for the past eight years.

"We are not signing Jeremy Bonderman," Dombrowski told the paper.

The Tigers had left open the possibility of bringing back Bonderman on a Minor League contract this winter, but it has been known for a while that Bonderman has been seeking a Major League deal, something he might well be getting with another club. At the heart of the issue, the Tigers had already moved on, having filled out their rotation by signing free agent Brad Penny and trading Armando Galarraga.

Had Bonderman returned to camp with the Tigers, he would've been an extra pitcher on the outside looking in on the rotation, more likely battling for a long-relief spot. The opening he could find on other clubs simply wasn't here. Yet at age 28, he hasn't exactly been an aging pitcher struggling to hold on.

Bonderman finishes his Tigers tenure with a 67-77 record and a 4.89 ERA in 207 appearances, 193 of them starts. Fifty of those wins came in a four-year stretch from 2004-07, including his career-best 14-8 record and 4.08 ERA for the 2006 American League champions.

Bonderman went 8-10 with a 5.53 ERA in 29 starts and a relief appearance for Detroit last year. It was a successful comeback from two years of injuries and surgery to relieve a circulation condition in his shoulder.

He badly wanted to turn that into a new contract in Detroit, the only city he has called home as a Major Leaguer. But as his promising first half turned into second-half struggles -- he went 3-4 with a 6.50 ERA after the All-Star break -- his chances of sticking around seemed increasingly remote. He suggested in late July that he might retire if he wasn't back, but those comments were simply out of frustration.

Bonderman did not respond to a text message Tuesday.

Dombrowski also ruled out any speculation the Tigers might have any interest in free-agent hitter Vladimir Guerrero. Though some tried to suggest he would be a good fit in Detroit, the fact that the Tigers weren't looking for a full-time designated hitter and already had their primary DH in the just-signed Victor Martinez pretty much made that idea nothing more than idle speculation.

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.