Rogers signs to two-year, $16M with Tigers

DETROIT -- Kenny Rogers expects to win with the Detroit Tigers.

"They're an organization that is on the way up," Rogers said Monday after agreeing to a $16 million, two-year contract to pitch for a team that hasn't had a winning record since 1993. "They're going to do everything they can to bring a winner to the community, and I don't think that's in the too distant future."

Rogers, a 41-year-old left-hander, and the Tigers reached a preliminary agreement last week. Detroit hopes the three-time All-Star will be the productive veteran its rotation has lacked.

"It's just what we need," team president Dave Dombrowski said.

Rogers was 14-8 with a 3.46 ERA this year and won a career-high 18 games in 2004 with the Texas Rangers.

"This guy was an All-Star six months ago," new Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "I can't tell you how happy I am about that."

But Rogers is most remembered for a tirade on June 29 in which he shoved two television cameramen while walking onto the field. He was suspended for 20 games, a penalty the players' association appealed. It was reduced to 13 games by an arbitrator.

Rogers realizes when his name is mentioned, his confrontation is, too.

"It doesn't bother me," he insisted. "It's not like the first mistake I've made in my life. I've never professed to being perfect.

"For any fans, I would hope they will see what type of guy I am and make their decisions based on that," he said.

Rogers' major-league career began in 1989, and he has a 190-131 record with a 4.21 ERA with Texas, the Yankees and Mets, Oakland and Minnesota.

Dombrowski said the Tigers evaluated all pitchers available -- via free agency and trades -- and determined Rogers was the best fit.

"We have the person that is the proven winner out of the group," Dombrowski said. "He's won more games than any of the free-agent pitchers out there."

Rogers said as long as his desire to compete is there, he plans to keep pitching.

"The type of pitcher I am now, it lends itself to being consistent," he said. "I do know how to locate. I do know how to pitch and change speeds."

Despite a desperate need for pitching, Texas made no effort to re-sign Rogers, who had three stints with the Rangers, a team that drafted him as a 17-year-old outfielder and turned him into a pitcher.

"Getting away from Texas is something I wanted," Rogers said. "Texas is one of the most difficult parks to pitch in, but I was able to do it and do it pretty well."

Rogers, who replaces Jason Johnson in Detroit's rotation, will lead a staff that includes 23-year-old Jeremy Bonderman and 28-year-olds Mike Maroth and Nate Robertson. Johnson, a free agent, was 16-28 for Detroit the past two seasons.

The Tigers have also taken a step toward improving their bullpen. They added closer Todd Jones last week with an $11 million, two-year deal. The 16-year veteran has 51-52 career record with 226 saves, including 40 last season with the Florida Marlins.

"We've become appreciably better going into next season," Dombrowski said.

The Tigers also reached a preliminary agreement on a $750,000, one-year contract with backup catcher Vance Wilson, who backed up Ivan
Rodriguez last season in Detroit.

"I don't think we have a glaring hole from a positional-player perspective," Dombrowski said.