Detroit Tigers sign right-hander Jack Flaherty to one-year, $14 million contract

The Detroit Tigers have signed right-hander Jack Flaherty to a one-year, $14 million contract, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the agreement.

The deal is pending a physical exam.

Flaherty, a seven-year MLB veteran who turned 28 in mid-October, posted a 4.99 ERA last season with 66 walks and 148 strikeouts over 144⅓ innings in 29 games (27 starts) with the St. Louis Cardinals and Baltimore Orioles.

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The Tigers and Flaherty agreed to a contract Thursday, but the club has not confirmed the signing. The Tigers showed interest in Flaherty throughout the offseason, according to a source, and believe the pitching coaches can help maximize his potential.

The Tigers beat out a few other teams for Flaherty's services in 2024.

He can earn up to $1 million in start-based incentives: $250,000 for the 26th start, $250,000 for the 28th start and $500,000 for the 30th start, pushing the possible value of his deal to $15 million.

Flaherty joins left-hander Tarik Skubal and right-handers Kenta Maeda, Reese Olson, Casey Mize, Matt Manning and Sawyer Gipson-Long as potential options for the Opening Day starting rotation. The Tigers signed Maeda, a fellow seven-year MLB veteran, to a two-year, $24 million contract in late November.

In 2023, the Cardinals traded Flaherty to the Orioles in exchange for three players — infielder César Prieto, right-hander Zack Showalter and left-hander Drew Rom — at the Aug. 1 trade deadline.

The Tigers have a surplus of starting pitchers, which means the newcomer could serve several purposes in 2024. Flaherty will begin the season as a starter, but depending on his performance, the Tigers could trade him, move him to the bullpen or keep him in the rotation. He would be an obvious trade candidate at the deadline if the Tigers aren't in playoff contention.

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Flaherty, who was selected No. 34 overall by the Cardinals in 2014, had his best season in 2019, posting a 2.75 ERA with 55 walks and 231 strikeouts over 196⅓ innings in 33 starts. His fastball and slider were elite pitches. That year, he finished fourth in National League Cy Young voting and 13th in NL MVP voting.

Since then, Flaherty has failed to display above-average underlying metrics.

He suffered shoulder injuries in 2021 and 2022.

The shoulder issues limited him to a combined 26 games (23 starts) in 2021-22, as he registered a 3.54 ERA with 48 walks and 118 strikeouts across 114⅓ innings. He had a 4.89 expected ERA in 2021 and a 4.94 xERA in 2022.

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In the 2023 season, Flaherty ranked in the 12th percentile in chase rate (25.3%), 19th percentile in xERA (5.06), 23rd percentile in walk rate (10.2%), 44th percentile in strikeout rate (22.8%) and 55th percentile in whiff rate (26.6%).

His fastball velocity and command have suffered since the shoulder problems. Still, Flaherty found a way to avoid barrels, miss some bats and limit hard contact last season.

The slider regressed from a 45.2% whiff rate in 2019 to a 35.4% whiff rate in 2022, then plummeted all the way down to a 26.5% whiff rate in 2023. Opponents hit .339 with a .558 slugging percentage off his slider in 2023, compared to .184 with a .324 slugging percentage in 2019.

Pitching coach Chris Fetter, who has worked for the Tigers since November 2020, has a knack for teaching, developing and fixing sliders. Assistant pitching coach Robin Lund, hired in November 2022, is an expert in biomechanics and can explain any mechanical adjustments.

Flaherty owns a 3.75 ERA with a 9.1% walk rate and 26.8% strikeout rate across 667⅔ innings in 131 games (125 starts) throughout his big-league career with the Cardinals (2017-23) and Orioles (2023).

Contact Evan Petzold at or follow him @EvanPetzold.

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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Tigers sign right-hander Jack Flaherty to 1-year, $14M deal