Tigers re-sign Joba Chamberlain

LAKELAND, Fla. -- The Detroit Tigers have signed Joba Chamberlain to a one-year contract, bringing the free-agent reliever back after an up-and-down season as their setup man in 2014.

Chamberlain, who went 2-5 with a 3.57 ERA last year, returned to Detroit's spring training facility Tuesday, not completely clean shaven but without the scraggly, overgrown beard that made him so easily identifiable with the Tigers last season.

"We're definitely going to keep it a little bit restrained from what it was last year," the 29-year-old reliever said. "I walked by a couple people. They didn't recognize who I was."

His guaranteed base salary is down from $2.5 million last year. The performance bonuses will be the same as last season: $100,000 each for 35, 40, 45, 50 and 55 games. He exceeded all of those marks in 2014.

Chamberlain earned an eighth-inning role in 2014 but struggled down the stretch, posting a 4.97 ERA after the All-Star break and allowing four earned runs over two postseason appearances.

"I feel like I didn't finish the season the way I wanted to and we have unfinished business as a team, and I personally do," Chamberlain said. "Started off well and at the end, I didn't finish the way I wanted to."

The right-hander turned 29 in September. He finished the regular season with 63 innings, his most since 2010.

Although Detroit's bullpen was unreliable last year, the Tigers still have many of the same relievers, including Joe Nathan, Joakim Soria, Al Alburquerque and now Chamberlain.

"We stayed in contact. He wanted to come back here. He liked it here," general manager Dave Dombrowski said. "He understood our circumstance of limited ability to pursue him as far as roster spots but also as far as dollars were concerned, but as time went on, he decided he was in a position to accept our offer."

Dombrowski said the Tigers aren't bringing Chamberlain back to fill the eighth-inning role. Soria is tabbed for that position.

Manager Brad Ausmus, however, has another option in the bullpen.

"You have three pitchers in Joba, [Bruce] Rondon and Alburquerque who certainly have the ability to pitch in the seventh or even the eighth," Ausmus said.