11/09/09 7:46 PM EST
Lyon files for free agency
Tigers have plenty of work ahead to reconfigure bullpen
By Jason Beck / MLB.com
Brandon Lyon became the final member of the team's free-agent eligibles to file Monday, formally placing the late-inning reliever on the market as Detroit tries to sort out its bullpen situation for next season.
Lyon joins closer Fernando Rodney, left-hander Jarrod Washburn and infielders Placido Polanco, Adam Everett and Aubrey Huff as free agents. The Tigers retain exclusive rights to negotiate and sign them until Nov. 20, though other teams can express interest and talk about anything but contract terms during this time.
Outfielder Marcus Thames and catcher Matt Treanor are already free agents, having been released by the Tigers last Friday. They're free to negotiate immediately and sign with any team.
Lyon goes onto the open market for the second time in as many years, but with a strong season on his resume as Detroit's setup man. The 30-year-old right-hander signed a one-year contract in January with a chance to compete for the Tigers' closer job, but lost out to Rodney.
Lyon struggled in Spring Training, including allowing four home runs in one game against the Red Sox, then carried it into the early portion of the regular season. He entered June with three losses and a 6.43 ERA, having allowing five home runs in 21 innings.
With his signing looking like a disappointment, however, he turned his season around with an adjustment in the game and more of a power arsenal to hitters. The result was four months of dominance to close out the season.
Lyon allowed a mere 1.56 ERA and a .180 batting average from June on, scattering 35 hits over 57 2/3 innings with 48 strikeouts and just two homers. He never unseated Rodney as the closer, but he turned out to be one of the American League's better setup men.
With Rodney looking for a long-term contract, Lyon could be in the closer picture again. The Tigers have yet to talk with his agent, Barry Meister, about a new contract, but will likely run into Meister during this week's general managers meetings in Chicago, Meister's hometown.
The chance to close is not necessarily a requirement for Lyon.
If there's an opportunity to close, I think he still feels like he can close," Meister said last week. "But he enjoyed the job that he did with the Tigers. I think it's just kind of a question of putting all these variables together."
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.