The Tigers announced Friday that catcher Donny Sands has been designated for assignment. His spot on the 40-man roster goes to right-hander Shelby Miller, whose previously reported one-year contract has now been formally announced by the club.
Sands, 27, came to the Tigers from the Phillies alongside Matt Vierling and Nick Maton in the trade sending left-hander Gregory Soto and utilityman Kody Clemens to the Phillies. The Tigers viewed him as some valuable, optionable depth behind the plate, but the performance of Jake Rogers in the Majors and some struggles from Sands in Triple-A combined to keep Sands in the upper minors all season.
In 371 trips to the plate with Triple-A Toledo, Sands hit .225/.318/.353. Even when backup catcher Eric Haase struggled in the majors and was designated for assignment, the Tigers went outside the organization to bring Carson Kelly aboard on a one-year deal with a 2024 club option. The Tigers exercised that option earlier this winter, and Kelly is now in line to serve as Rogers’ backup.
Sands still has one more minor league option year remaining, and he’s posted roughly average framing grades in the upper minors. This past season, he logged a 24% caught-stealing rate. And, despite his scuffles in Toledo, Sands still carries a career .261/.352/.403 batting line parts of three Triple-A campaigns. Another club with some needs behind the dish could well hold interest in Sands, be it in a small trade or via a waiver claim. Detroit will have a week to find a trade partner or attempt to pass Sands through outright waivers.