Unable to trade Brennan Boesch this spring, the Detroit Tigers gave him his unconditional release on Wednesday morning.
“I think, sometimes, we throw that term ‘change of scenery’ around too loose, but I think this is a case where it’s probably a great thing. I truly believe that,” manager Jim Leyland said Wednesday. “I still think there’s potential there. It wasn’t going to fit with our club this particular year. Hopefully, Brennan will move forward, and things will work out for him like we hoped they would have here. Just didn’t work, and I’ll leave it at that.”
By releasing Boesch now, the Tigers owe him one-sixth of the $2.3-million salary they tendered him in January — about $400,000.
Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski told reporters Wednesday morning, before the Tigers played Florida Southern College at Joker Marchant Stadium, that Andy Dirks will be the team’s primary leftfielder, and there was no need for another left-handed-hitting outfielder.
It didn’t help Boesch that he missed the early part of camp with an oblique strain. In 16 at-bats in seven exhibitions, Boesch hit .188 with one double, no home runs and no RBIs.
“We could wait, but we just didn’t see a fit with our big-league club,” Dombrowski said. “I think we’re trying to do him a little favor.”
Dombrowski said sending Boesch to Triple-A was not a consideration because, after three seasons in the majors, he has nothing to prove at that level.
Boesch hit .240 with 12 home runs and 54 RBIs last season and was left off the Tigers’ postseason roster. In three seasons with the Tigers, he hit .259 with 42 home runs and 175 RBIs.
“I still think he has tremendous upside,” Dombrowski said. “If I’m somewhere else, in the sense that you were looking for a guy to play some outfield and hit DH, and you knew you could give him some at-bats, he’s still got a lot of upside. But you just run out of the time to give him here. We’re at a different point. We’re not in a development stage, in that regard. We’re in a point of trying to win right now.”
Boesch was not immediately available for comment. His agent, Scott Boras, told the Free Press before noon that seven teams already had called to express interest.
“A lot of teams know who Brennan Boesch is and his tools and his power,” Boras said. “I spoke to Brennan, and I’ve already been in contact with him about the offers that have already been made.”
Boras said he understood the decision made by the Tigers.
“They’ve got current major league outfielders, and then they have outfielders below,” Boras said. “They have a lot of outfielders in the system. With their strength and, frankly, for the benefit of Brennan, it gave him the opportunity with a good bit of spring training to go, to go out and put himself in a position where he’s going to be in the major leagues with another team.”