The Detroit Tigers acquired nine-year MLB veteran Mark Caneha in a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for minor league reliever Blake Holub.
The Tigers and Brewers completed the trade Saturday, three days after the trade market opened after the World Series. Canha has an $11.5 million team option for the 2024 season — the final year of his contract — that the Tigers will pick up.
Kanha, who turns 35 in mid-February, represents the Tigers’ first big move in his second season under president of baseball operations Scott Harris.
“One of our goals going into the game was to add a right-handed bat that can help in the outfield. I think that’s what we did with Mark today, I think Mark makes us better,” Harris said Saturday.
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During the 2023 season, Canha hit .262 with 11 home runs, 49 walks and 79 strikeouts in 139 games with the New York Mets (89 games) and Brewers (50 games). He posted a .355 on-base percentage and a .755 OPS.
Simply put, Kanha has an expert understanding of the strike zone. His 15.6% strikeout rate ranks in the 87th percentile, his 18.3% whiff rate ranks in the 86th percentile, and his 23.9% strikeout rate ranks in the 78th percentile.
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His 9.7% walk rate also ranks in the 65th percentile.
“On the field, Mark is a base machine,” Harris said. “He goes from plan to plan… He’s been one of the biggest threats in our game over the last four or five years, so I think he’s going to make us better that way right away.
“Off the field, we feel really good about what he’s going to add to our clubhouse … I think adding that type of bat to the field with that level of approach can only help young players. I’m hoping for a lot of our young guys. Players take that approach. Approaches at the plate can be contagious.” I think so.
The Mets traded Kane to the Brewers on July 31 in exchange for right-handed pitching prospect Justin Jarvis. Khanha played in 14 games in the postseason, including two games with the Brewers in 2023.
A right-handed hitter, Kanha has defensive experience in left field, right field, center field, first base and third base. He primarily played left field, right field and first base with the Brewers.
The Tigers plan to use Kanha in the outfield and first base.
“Also, we’re going to get the DH position back this year,” Harris said, “so if AJ (Hinch, manager) wants to get (first baseman Spencer Torkelson) off his feet, he wants to get all of our outfield bats in the lineup. He can make sure he doesn’t miss a beat.
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The Tigers parted with their 15th-round pick in the 2021 draft to acquire Kanha.
Holub, who turned 25 in late October, posted a 3.03 ERA with 17 walks and 76 strikeouts in 65⅓ innings in 48 relief appearances with High-A West Michigan and Double-A Erie. He had a 3.79 ERA in 40⅓ innings for the SeaWolves.
The Tigers traded surplus thanks to the player development department to find interest.
“I think that’s important in every market,” Harris said. “Maybe it’s a little bit more valuable in our market given the constraints we have, but there’s always change when you do these deals. Selling Blake makes us a little worse and getting Mark makes us a lot better. My guess.”
Holub’s pitch consists of three pitches: a 95-mph fastball with a natural cut, an 85-mph sweep and a below-average changeup. His fastball, thrown from a high release point, has above-average extension and the sweeper tunnels to catch the ball quickly.
Holub projects as an MLB-caliber reliever, perhaps as soon as this season, but the Tigers were willing to trade him to the Brewers for a former outfielder with above-average plate discipline.
Canha, meanwhile, has a 115 OPS+ (league-average per 100) in 924 games with the Oakland Athletics (2015-21), Mets (2022-23) and Brewers (2023).
“I didn’t want to trade Blake,” Harris said. “He’s a talented young man who has a chance to be in the major league bullpen in the future, but you have to give something up to get something in this game.”
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