DETROIT -- The first player move of what should be a busy offseason for the Tigers was a smaller one Tuesday. Right-hander Virgil Vasquez, who did not pitch at all in Detroit in 2008 after serving as a spot starter a year earlier, was claimed on waivers by the Red Sox.
The Tigers had placed Vasquez, 26, on outright waivers to remove him from its 40-man roster. Those waivers are irrevocable, allowing any team to immediately claim a player as long as the club has room for him on their 40-man roster. Had Vasquez gone unclaimed, he would've been outrighted to Triple-A Toledo, where he spent most of the last two seasons as part of the Mud Hens rotation.
The move to the Red Sox organization arguably gives Vasquez a fresh start. He went 12-12 with a 4.81 ERA in 27 games with the Hens, all of them starts, while allowing 179 hits over 159 innings with 37 walks and 115 strikeouts. His home run total rose from 18 in 2007 to 27 in '08, while opponents' batting average rose from .241 to .283 in the same span.
Those struggles left him out of the Tigers' plans when they needed starting help at various times over the season. Though Vasquez was on the 40-man roster all year, Detroit purchased the contracts of Armando Galarraga, Eddie Bonine and Chris Lambert to fill in for injured starters. Vasquez was not called up when rosters expanded in September.
A year earlier, Vasquez's ability to pitch for outs and keep hitters off balance led the former seventh-round Draft pick from UC-Santa Barbara up the development ladder and all the way to Detroit for three spot starts and a September stint in the bullpen. He made his Major League debut on national television in a Sunday night game against the Twins at the Metrodome and took the loss, but recovered to post a 12-5 record and 3.48 ERA in 25 starts for the Mud Hens, including two complete-game shutouts.
Tuesday's move leaves the Tigers' 40-man roster at 39 players. That does not include Jeremy Bonderman, Joel Zumaya and Vance Wilson, all of whom ended the season on the 60-day disabled list. They'll be added back on, but the Tigers will get more room when closer Todd Jones' retirement takes effect and Wilson, Edgar Renteria and Kenny Rogers are expected to file for free agency.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.