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Tigers, P Flaherty finalize one-year, $14M deal

Jack Flaherty Baltimore Orioles Jack Flaherty - The Canadian Press

DETROIT (AP) — Right-hander Jack Flaherty and the Detroit Tigers have finalized a $14 million, one-year contract in a deal that allows the 28-year-old right-hander to earn an additional $1 million in performances bonuses with a franchise that has invested a lot in improving next season.

“There’s a lot of belief in this team,” Flaherty said Wednesday. “That’s one of the things that excited me about the opportunity.”

Detroit finished second in the AL Central at 78-84 this year, its seventh straight losing season, and recently signed manager A.J. Hinch to what the team called a long-term contract extension.

“It’s no secret Jack is betting on himself with this contract, and we are very supportive of him coming here and betting on himself,” Tigers president of baseball operations Scott Harris said.

Early in an active offseason, the Tigers exercised Mark Canha’s $11.5 million option after the 34-year-old outfielder was acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers for minor league pitcher Blake Holub.

The Tigers also signed 35-year-old Japanese right-hander Kenta Maeda to a $24 million, two-year contract and left-hander Andrew Chafin to a $4.75 million, one-year deal.

“The ballpark helps us from a pitching standpoint,” Harris said. “I think we have started to demonstrate that our pitching group and our manager have a way to reach pitchers and help them get a little bit more out of their ability.”

Flaherty said the team is ready to win, an opinion formed from talking with its leadership.

“You could feel it,” he said. “You could see it.”

Flaherty, who had a $5.4 million salary last season, has had an ERA over 4.00 in three of the past four seasons. He would earn $250,000 each for 26 and 28 starts and $500,000 for 30.

Flaherty went 8-9 with a 4.99 ERA in 27 starts and two relief appearances, including 1-3 with a 6.75 ERA in seven starts and two relief outings with the Orioles. Baltimore acquired him in an Aug. 1 trade with St. Louis for infielder César Prieto, left-hander Drew Rom and right-hander Zack Showalter.

“Despite the top line performance that he showed in Baltimore, we noticed that he started to recapture the fastball shape and playability that he had earlier in his career,” Harris said. “That pitch started to play better in Baltimore, and we think that planted a seed that we can hopefully continue to grow here in Detroit.”

Flaherty is 42-35 with a 3.75 ERA in seven major league seasons.

“Jack had a lot of interest because of the performance that he flashed earlier in his career,” Harris said.

He was fifth in NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2018, and the following year he went 11-8 with a 2.75 ERA for the Cardinals, placing fourth in the Cy Young Award race.

“I’ve got a lot of baseball in front of me,” said Flaherty, who made his major league debut in 2017.