Rogers voices desire to stay with Tigers
Free-agent southpaw indicates Detroit remains first choice
DETROIT -- While Kenny Rogers and his agent gauge interest from other clubs in free agency, including a potential return to the Rangers, the free-agent pitcher still sounds like someone whose first option is another season with the Tigers.
In an e-mail to MLB.com Thursday evening, Rogers expressed optimism that he could be back in Detroit next year, though he didn't want to get into details about talks between his agent, Scott Boras, and the club.
"I would prefer not to discuss negotiations publicly," Rogers wrote. "I will say that I still hope to be in a Tiger uniform in 2008. Thanks for your understanding and patience during this process."
Those were his first remarks regarding the Tigers and his situation since he declared for free agency two weeks ago. They cleared up some confusion about his intentions after the free-agent process brought previous remarks into question.
Rogers, who turned 43 years old last weekend, said towards the end of this season that he wanted to pitch for the Tigers next season if he pitched at all. At that point, he was weighing the idea of retirement after 19 seasons in the Major Leagues.
"If it comes to pass, there's not one place that I'd rather be than here," Rogers said of the Tigers on Sept. 29. "That would be the easy part, I think."
The process has proven more complicated. Boras told the Tigers at baseball's General Managers Meetings last week that while Rogers plans on pitching again next year and would like to do so in Detroit, they will listen to interest from other clubs. Team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski, in turn, said he would start looking at other options in case Rogers signs somewhere else.
Phone messages to Boras earlier this week were not returned.
The Tigers have made at least two contract offers to Rogers, both believed to be one-year deals. Both were declined. However, Dombrowski said earlier this week that the door remains open for an agreement.
Detroit has had talks with the agent for free-agent starter Carlos Silva. The Detroit Free Press reported Thursday that the Tigers have contacted the agent for Livan Hernandez as well.
A return to the Rangers would allow Rogers to live during the season with his family at their home in Southlake, Texas. However, his incident with a television reporter during his last season in Texas in 2005 is an issue that could still haunt him.
"I would consider letting him sign a short-term contract with us," Rangers owner Tom Hicks said. "Those certain circumstances would have to be met. He has to take care of some unfinished business."
That, Hicks said, would involve an apology to the club and its fans.
Dombrowski said Tuesday that they don't expect any right of last refusal. If they had a trade for a starting pitcher that they wanted to make, they would move on, and they wouldn't expect Boras to contact them for one last shot if they were set to sign a deal with another club. Nevertheless, it appears the ties between Rogers and the Tigers are far from cut.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.