The Detroit Tigers reached an agreement with Joba Chamberlain, signing the 28 year-old righthander to a one-year deal worth $2.5 million according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. Chamberlain’s contract contains performance bonuses.
Chamberlain is coming off the worst year of his major league career. He appeared in 45 games for the New York Yankees, throwing 42 innings with a 4.93 ERA and 5.64 FIP. He issued 26 walks and gave up 8 home runs.
After a debut season in which he showcased his 100 mile per hour fastball and surrendered just one earned run in 24 innings, Chamberlain has been up and down.
There were some good moments in the rotation in 2008 and 2009, but he returned to the bullpen in 2010. A slew of injuries has limited him to 91.1 innings over the last three years and he has a bloated 4.14 ERA and 4.62 FIP in that span. Possessing a HR/FB rate of 16.9 percent, the second highest in the majors, hasn’t helped.
Still, Chamberlain is a decent bet to bounce back. His fastball velocity is down from his rookie season, but it has averaged 95 miles per hour for the last four years. He’s been able to miss bats as shown by a 10.1 percent swinging strike rate. A move away from Yankee Stadium should help with his home run issues that have plagued him. Chamberlain owns a career ERA of 3.20 on the road, compared to 4.42 at home.
With the likely departure of Joaquin Benoit and Jose Veras via free agency, and with Drew Smyly shifting from the bullpen to the rotation, the Tigers relief corps has a new look this year. Joe Nathan was signed to a two-year deal earlier this offseason, and left-hander Ian Krol was acquired in the Doug Fister trade.
At $2.5 million, Chamberlain isn’t a big risk, and the Tigers can hope he will regain some of the dominant form he’s shown.