DETROIT -- The Tigers signed a late-inning reliever to a contract Wednesday, but not the well-rumored one. Rather, Joel Zumaya and the club avoided arbitration by agreeing to terms on a one-year contract worth $915,000.
The 25-year-old Zumaya becomes the latest of Detroit's many arbitration-eligible players to sign. Justin Verlander, Gerald Laird, Zach Miner and Bobby Seay remain unsigned as eligible players around baseball to file this week.
Zumaya had a frustrating, injury-shortened 2009 season, going 3-3 with a 4.94 ERA in 29 games before undergoing season-ending surgery in August to fix a stress fracture in his right shoulder. Those injury woes contributed to Zumaya's struggles; he struck out 30 batters over 31 innings, but gave up 34 hits and five home runs.
An offseason rehab program ended last month, allowing him to pick up a normal winter workout program for the final weeks before Spring Training. If he can stay healthy, the hard-throwing right-hander has a chance to play a major role as a veteran arm in a somewhat younger Tigers bullpen.
Like Verlander, Zumaya was eligible for arbitration for the second time. He could be eligible for free agency after the 2011 season. Zumaya made $735,000 last year.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.