The Tigers announced yesterday that outfielder Clete Thomas has been designated for assignment in order to make room for pitcher Drew Smiley, who will start his first major league game today. The Tigers now have ten days to trade or release or send Thomas to the minors. If they want to keep him in the minors, they would first have to get him through waivers.
The 28-year old Thomas entered spring training with a chance to make the Tigers over 26-year old Andy Dirks. Thomas had the advantage of being out of options and is a superior defender to Dirks. However, he continued to have trouble making contact in spring training while Dirks had a fine spring.
Given that they kept Thomas into the season, it seems that the Tigers are interested in keeping him. However, with some teams looking for backup outfielders, it might be difficult for him to clear waivers. From Thomas' viewpoint, I imagine it would be best for him to get a fresh start in another organization.
The Jacksonville, Florida native has been in the Tigers organization since 2005 when he was drafted in the 6th round of the amateur draft. Thomas played on the parent Tigers in 2008-2009 and had moderate success batting .253/.336/.391 in 443 plate appearances. It's a limited sample, but there are only three current Tigers - Alex Avila, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder - with a higher lifetime OBP.
Thomas has always been a favorite of mine, so I wish him luck wherever he ends up.