Tigers make room on roster for Mesa

Tigers make room on roster for Mesa

DETROIT -- Alexis Gomez became an unlikely Tigers hero in the playoffs after being taken off the roster twice during the regular season. On Tuesday, he made room for a third time this year.

Detroit made room for reliever Jose Mesa by announcing it will not tender a contract to Gomez by Tuesday's midnight ET deadline. Once again off the roster, he now becomes a free agent, free to sign with any ballclub.

Gomez could've elected for free agency when he was designated for assignment over the summer, but decided to accept an assignment to Triple-A Toledo instead. The decision paid off when manager Jim Leyland, wanting a left-handed bat on his bench, put Gomez on the Tigers' postseason roster. He responded by going 4-for-9 in their American League Championship Series win over the A's, including 2-for-4 with a home run and four RBIs in Game 2 at Oakland.

Gomez batted .272 (28-for-103) for Detroit during the regular season with five doubles, two triples, a home run and six RBIs in 62 games. He spent the rest of the year as part of the everyday lineup at Triple-A Toledo, where he hit .288 with 11 homers, 18 doubles, three triples and 36 RBIs in 58 games -- including a four-homer game for the Mud Hens on Aug. 7.

The Tigers have made little secret of their search for another left-handed bat on their bench for this coming season, expressing interest in potential trades with other clubs. They've reportedly engaged Washington about Ryan Church and Houston about Luke Scott to limited extents. It could still turn out that Gomez ends up being that extra bat from the left side, but it would have to be with a Minor League contract and non-roster invitation to Spring Training.

"We have interest in [talking to Gomez and his agent] in trying to re-sign him in the organization," general manager Dave Dombrowski said. "I'm sure [Gomez and his agent] will digest and they'll get back to us. They know we have interest in re-signing him."

The Tigers' 40-man roster was full at 40 once they selected left-handed reliever Edward Campusano in last week's Rule 5 Draft. They had to make room for Mesa once he agreed to terms Monday and passed his physical.

Gomez was Detroit's lone non-tender victim. The Tigers extended contracts to the rest of the roster, including all five of their arbitration eligible players -- Jeremy Bonderman, Omar Infante, Craig Monroe, Nate Robertson and Fernando Rodney.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.