Nevin happy for Eldred’s move to JapanWritten by Zach Davis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
For fans of minor league teams, it’s not unusual to see the roster’s best player leave.
Departing for Japan, however — now, that’s a different story.
Slugging designated hitter Brad Eldred was released from his contract and signed a deal with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp this week. He was scratched from the lineup before the June 18 game against LeHigh Valley and was seen saying goodbye to his teammates following the contest. The move became official the following day.
“From my seat, my job is to make these guys better and move them on to bigger and better things,” Toledo head coach Phil Nevin said. “Usually that’s the big leagues, but regarding Brad, this is a great opportunity for his family.”
Eldred put up massive numbers for the Mud Hens this season. The 31-year-old designated hitter led the International League with 24 home runs and 65 RBI, and could have improved those numbers even more if not for a short promotion to the Tigers where he played in five games. He hit .305 in 2012 in 236 at bats and scored 49 runs.
That production makes Eldred’s departure a tad bittersweet for Toledo fans who will now look to find a replacement in the heart of their order. For Nevin, however, the move isn’t bittersweet at all. He is content facing the problem of replacing Eldred.
“We have plenty of good players here,” Nevin said. “It’s a positive thing and that’s how I look at it. When I get between the lines it’s about wins and losses, of course. But with a guy like Brad he has been great for this organization, even if it’s been a short time. He’s earned the right to go provide for his kids.”
Over his career, Eldred has played for three major league teams: Detroit, Colorado and Pittsburgh. Eldred posted a .203 career average in the majors in 276 at bats, hitting 15 home runs and driving home 34. He also struck out 109 times and walked 17.
The Carp are no strangers to signing major league players, let alone former Tigers. Among the players who played for Detroit then left for Hiroshima are Rod Allen, Sean Douglass, Colby Lewis and Timo Perez.
As for the Mud Hens, the team has tried to find Eldred’s replacement from outside the organization with the signing of Jeff Baisley. The 29-year-old played 64 games for the Los Angeles Dodgers Triple-A affiliate Albuquerque before he was cut in early June, recording a modest .284 average with eight home runs and 41 RBI. In his first two outings, Baisley is 2 for 8 with an RBI for Toledo.