Tigers sign Minors contracts with 22 players

Achter, Mujica among those to get Spring Training invites

Tigers sign Minors contracts with 22 players

DETROIT -- The Tigers officially announced Minor League contracts with 22 players, including seven non-roster invites to Spring Training, as they try to build depth in their system.

Most of the deals on Tuesday had previously been reported. They include A.J. Achter, the former Twins and Angels reliever who grew up in Toledo, along with former Cardinals closer Edward Mujica, former Angels first baseman Efren Navarro, well-traveled infielder Brendan Ryan and utility outfielder Alex Presley. All will be in Major League camp, along with outfielder Juan Perez and infielder Brett Pill.

Others signing Minors contracts include former Tigers Collin Balester and Thad Weber, along with fellow right-handers Jake Brigham, Waldis Joaquin and Jorge Marban, and lefties Travis Blackley and Anthony Vasquez. Infielders Omar Artsen, Zack Cox, Sean Halton, Gabriel Quintana and Logan Watkins also signed Minor League deals, as did outfielders Jim Adduci, Quincy Latimore and Ronnie Mitchell.

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Achter's deal had been reported last month, bringing him close to home with a chance to crack the Tigers' bullpen. Achter grew up in Toledo and won City League Player of the Year honors his senior season at Clay High School. After three seasons at Michigan State, he was a 46th-round pick of the Twins in the 2010 Draft. After 18 appearances over two seasons with Minnesota, Achter jumped to the Angels as a non-roster invite last year and pitched in 27 games for the big club over seven different stints. Despite bouncing back and forth to Salt Lake, he put up decent numbers, including a 3.11 ERA over 37 2/3 innings with 12 walks and 14 strikeouts.

If Achter makes to the Majors, he'll be the first Michigan State product to play for the Tigers since Kirk Gibson.

The Tigers have been tied to interest in Mujica in past years. They're hoping to get a rebound season out of him now. He racked up 37 saves with the Cardinals in 2013, before struggling to find his form the past few years. He isn't a high-strikeout pitcher, but compensates with low walk totals.

The 30-year-old Navarro played parts of 2014 and '15 with the Angels, and went 4-for-9 with a home run against the Tigers during a three-game series three years ago. He spent last year in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League with the Mariners and Cardinals organizations, combining to bat .275 (128-for-465) with seven home runs, 48 RBIs and a .704 OPS.

The 31-year-old Presley returns to the Tigers, who signed him at midseason last year to provide insurance in center. He went 1-for-5 in three games after hitting .198 for the Brewers the first half of 2016. Ryan, who turns 35 in March, was a starting shortstop in St. Louis and Seattle from 2009 through 2013 before spending the last few years as a utility infielder between Triple-A and the Majors with the Yankees and Angels. He went 1-for-13 with the Angels last season.

Perez, 30, provides another option in center field. He batted .276 (105-for-381) for Triple-A Iowa in the Cubs' system with 27 doubles, nine home runs, 57 RBIs, 16 stolen bases and a .753 OPS. He's a .224 career hitter in 117 Major League games, all for the Giants from 2013 through '15.

Pill is one of several Tigers signings returning to the states from other leagues. The 32-year-old spent the last three years with the Kia Tigers in Korea, batting .317 with 66 home runs and 272 RBIs over that span. The former Draft pick by the Giants has a .233 career average over 111 Major League games in San Francisco.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.