The Tigers announced that they had traded the Saviors Joe Jimenez To the brave in search of horizons Justin Henry Malloy And the Jake Higginbotham. The Tigers will also send money to the Braves.
Jimenez, 27, was a highly effective member of Detroit’s bullpen last season, throwing 56 2/3 innings off a 3.49 ball ERA. The advanced metrics looked particularly positive on Jimenez’s work, as the FIP sat at 2.00. Right-handed hitter hit a clip well above 33.3% of the average, while walking it only 5.6% of the time.
Originally signed from Puerto Rico in 2013, Jimenez dominated the minor leagues on his way through the Tigers’ system, and was called up to make his major league debut in 2017. That year was a struggle for him, as he reached a 12.32 ERA in 19 innings pitched. A .403 BABIP opponent certainly didn’t help there, and Jimenez would turn things around pretty quickly after that. His strikeout increased to 29.2% the following year, and Jimenez posted a 4.31 ERA over 62 2/3 innings pitched, with a 2.90 FIP, and earned his first trip to the All Star Game that summer.
Like almost any reliever, Jimenez has had his ups and downs, and while 2018-19 saw him provide consistent relief as a small arm in the Tigers’ pen, he’s had a rough couple of years after that. The shortened 2020 season saw Jimenez pound 2.8 home runs per nine innings pitched, finishing with a 7.15 ERA. After suffering a decline in strikeouts that year, he rebounded in that side a year later, but saw his walk rate climb as high as 16.7% as he ended up with a 5.96 ERA. He looked dominant this year, in what was easily his best year in the big leagues.
Jimenez is supposed to get into the Braves’ backside. They already have Raisel Iglesias, AJ Minter, Collin McHugh, and Dylan Lee as very effective relief options, so Jimenez arms them with another weapon to use to finish games. Jimenez is eligible for arbitration for the last time this winter, and is expected to earn a salary of $2.6 million before he reaches free agency next winter.
Moving on to the expectations the Tigers will receive, Malloy is the main part. He was the Braves’ sixth round pick in the 2021 draft, and made it to Triple-A in 2022, but he spent most of the year short of it. At Double-A, he hit .268/.403/.421 with six home runs in 238 plate appearances. Defensively, Malloy split time between third base and left field. He’s been topping the Braves’ prospect rankings since being drafted, and was the sixth-best prospect on Baseball America’s recently released roster in 2023. While their scouting report raises concerns about his defensive ability, the bat has a lot of promise, and he’s certainly done enough so far. So much so, that he might be knocking on the door of the major leagues before long.
Higginbotham, 26, pitched 51 1/3 innings of bowling at Double-A in 2022, hitting a 4.73 ERA. Originally drafted in the 11th round in 2018, Higginbotham’s has posted a 3.30 ERA across four pro seasons in the Braves organization. He throws a mid-90s fastball, mixing it with a sinker and curveball.
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