Former Detroit Tigers pitcher becomes first free agent to sign after MLB lockout

Drew VerHagen signs 2-year deal with St. Louis Cardinals

Starting pitcher Drew VerHagen #54 of the Detroit Tigers leaves the game during the fifth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on September 19, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Jason Miller, 2019 Getty Images)

DETROIT – A former pitcher for the Detroit Tigers just became the first free agent to sign a deal following the MLB lockout.

Right-handed reliever Drew VerHagen agreed to a two-year, $5.5 million deal with the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday (March 11). He’ll make $2.5 million in 2022 and $3 million in 2023, with a chance to earn more through performance bonuses.

VerHagen, 31, spent parts of six seasons with the Tigers from 2014-2019. He pitched a total of 199 innings in Detroit, posting a 5.11 ERA, 4.76 FIP and 1.427 WHIP. He struck out 7.1 batters per nine innings while walking 3.4.

Over the past two seasons with the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters in the Japan Pacific League, VerHagen posted a 3.51 ERA and 1.170 WHIP across 207.2 innings.

He’s a great fit for the Cardinals because of his ground ball tendencies -- 53.6% of all batted balls against VerHagen were hit on the ground during his time with the Tigers.

St. Louis owns the best infield defense in all of baseball, led by Gold Glove winners Tommy Edman, Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado. Rookie shortstop Edmundo Sosa was also an elite defensive player in 2021, and there are few better behind the plate than Yadier Molina.

Free agency is expected to ramp up quickly now that the MLB players and owners have reached a new collective bargaining agreement. VerHagen certainly wasn’t considered one of the offseason’s high-profile targets, but he ended up being the first domino to fall post-lockout.

READ: Everything to know about Major League Baseball’s new CBA


About the Author:

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.