Bonderman still watching market for comeback

If the Tigers have offered a formal contract to Jeremy Bonderman, it seems to be a new development to him. He told MLB.com in a phone conversation Friday that he has left contract matters to his agent.

“I’m just seeing what all is out there right now,” Bonderman said. “But I have talked to Detroit.”

FOXSports.com’s Jon Paul Morosi cited sources Friday saying the Tigers have offered Bonderman a contract. It wouldn’t be a complete surprise if they did. When Bonderman became a free agent two offseasons ago, president/GM Dave Dombrowski had a standing offer on the table for a Minor League contract with a Spring Training invite. Bonderman was looking for a Major League contract at that time, and ended up simply staying home.

Bonderman admitted this past spring that he blew out his elbow while working out that offseason. He underwent Tommy John surgery this spring and has worked out ever since then in preparation for a comeback attempt. He said Friday he’s on schedule to be ready for full workouts come Spring Training.

He’s willing to accept a minor-league deal with a camp invite now, which could pave the way for a reunion with the Tigers. At this point however, it would make sense for him to watch the market and see what develops. If he can find a team with a rotation opening, it would give him a better shot at making the team than he might have in Detroit, where the Tigers already have enough established starters to fill out a rotation regardless whether they re-sign Anibal Sanchez.

Team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said in an email Friday that he can’t comment on specific free agents, citing current Major League rules.

Dombrowski said last week that the Tigers could look for a starter to compete for the fifth spot if they don’t re-sign Sanchez. Most likely, though, that signing would be an insurance option in case Drew Smyly struggles or somebody gets hurt. The Tigers don’t have the same starter depth in the upper levels of their farm system that they had the past couple years, having traded Jacob Turner and watched Andy Oliver struggle mightily this past season. Duane Below and Adam Wilk are among the depth options they have right now.

Bonderman hasn’t pitched anywhere since 2010. Up to this point, he has spent his entire Major League career in Detroit since he crashed the Tigers rotation at age 20 in 2003. He turned 30 years old just two weeks ago.

– Jason Beck

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