Spring training is particularly frantic for countless baseball players that not only are on the fringe of making a Major League roster but are working to maintain their position within the entire organization. That was the case for lefty Jairo Labourt, who has re-signed with the Detroit Tigers just before Opening Day.
The Tigers today announced that they have signed LHP Jairo Labourt to a Minor League contract.
— Tigers PR (@DetroitTigersPR) March 28, 2018
Labourt, 24, was let go by the Tigers back in late February when the team signed veteran Francisco Liriano to a one-year major league deal and had to free up a spot on the 40-man roster. He was claimed off waivers by the Cincinnati Reds in early March, only to suffer the same fate days later and eventually get claimed by the Oakland Athletics. But Oakland also released Labourt just two days after picking him up.
So, Labourt ends up starting and finishing spring training with the same club, just with a couple extra job interviews along the way, all in the span of nearly five weeks.
Labourt was part of the three-player package the Tigers received in a trade with the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for David Price back in 2015. He came up in the Toronto system as a starter and stayed in that role early on after being shipped to Detroit. The Tigers, however, converted him to a full-time reliever in 2017 and he really excelled.
Labourt in 45 games spanning three different levels in the minors logged a 2.17 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP. He was named one of two prospects for the Tigers, along with fellow hurler Beau Burrows, to pitch in the Futures Game during All-Star week. Labourt eventually earned a September call-up to the parent club, allowing three runs in six innings of work with the Tigers. He did, however, struggle with command, walking seven of his 28 batters faced.
Labourt figures to start the season at either Double-A Erie or Triple-A Toledo, depending on how both clubs formulate their respective rosters. The big, hard-throwing southpaw also figures to be a prime candidate for a mid-season call-up if a) he is performing well and b) an injury and/or poor performance comes about with the Tigers.