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Detroit signs catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia to 1-year deal as backup

NASHVILLE -- The Detroit Tigers have signed catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia to a one-year deal, adding a backup catcher with a left-handed bat in the absence of former backup Alex Avila, who recently signed with the Chicago White Sox as a free agent.

Tigers general manager Al Avila had already been one of the busiest executives in the weeks leading up to MLB's winter meetings, and on Sunday night, the team made another pair of signings official and was on the verge of another.

"The opportunity came to be able to sign Jarrod. Obviously, we like his pop from the left side. We think that is going to play. We'll see how that turns out in spring training," Al Avila said in a news conference with reporters in the club's suite at the Gaylord Opryland hotel in Nashville.

The team confirmed a two-year, $16 million deal for starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey, sources told ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick. Pelfrey's deal, first reported Friday, was made official Sunday following the completion of a physical.

The Tigers were also closing in on a two-year deal with veteran reliever Mark Lowe, a source told Crasnick. Low would be a setup man for closer Francisco Rodriguez.

The 32-year-old Lowe posted a 1.96 ERA in 55 innings for the Toronto Blue Jays this past season.

The move to add Saltalamacchia was a bit of surprise, considering many assumed Bryan Holaday would fulfill the role in the 2016 season. Avila found the 6-foot-4, 235-pound Saltalamacchia's veteran experience appealing. Saltalamacchia will compete for a chance to back up youngster James McCann, who had a breakout rookie season in 2015 and usurped the incumbent Avila to snag the starting role.

Saltalamacchia's deal is for the major league minimum salary, Avila said. The 30-year-old Saltalamacchia, who appeared in 79 games last season while playing for the Miami Marlins and Arizona Diamondbacks, has a .240 career batting average with 346 runs, 98 home runs and 343 RBIs.

The acquisition of Pelfrey rounds out a starting rotation that was the club's Achilles heel heading into the offseason. Earlier last week, the team inked right-hander Jordan Zimmermann to a five-year, $110 million deal.

While Zimmermann was the club's top pitching target, Pelfrey is expected to add some depth in the back end of the rotation. Pelfrey, 31, was 6-11 in 30 starts for the Minnesota Twins last season, with a 4.26 ERA and 86 strikeouts. Three-and-a-half years removed from Tommy John surgery, Pelfrey said he feels the healthiest he has since undergoing the procedure, and he thought the Tigers were a great fit.

"I know this team isn't very far away, and my main thing is, this team's really close to winning and getting back," Pelfrey said on a conference call with local media. "I thought the opportunity was too good to pass up, so we took it."

The Tigers are still expected to scour the free-agent market in pursuit of help for their bullpen, though prices for relievers continue to soar. Avila said the club plans to mull internal options for young pitching prospects who can eventually be groomed into a closer role.