Chad Qualls confirmed on Tuesday the reports the Tigers were the team that put in a waiver claim for the Astros closer.
"Everything that we know is that it was Detroit," Qualls said. "I could've signed there in the offseason. Obviously, they tried to trade for me at the deadline. With me being put on waivers, why wouldn't they want to take another chance now? So, yet again, nothing's changed. I'm going to go to work as usual and do my thing."
As Qualls mentioned, the Tigers have made known their interest for his services. The reliever said that when he chose which team to sign with in the offseason, it was between the Astros and Tigers. Both had multi-year offers for him, he said, but it was family that was the deciding factor. It's also why he hopes to stay in Houston. That said, the Tigers had a 70-59 record coming into Tuesday and are fully in a race for the AL Central title and/or a AL wild card spot. If Qualls' destiny leads to the Tigers this season, he would instantly enter into a pennant chase.
"It's kind of cool for there to be a pennant race over there, but also, my family's in Austin," Qualls said. "My oldest son just started kindergarten, so it's kind of cool being able to see him go to his first day of school, so there's the family and there's the pennant chase. So you try to weight each one, but right now, my commitment's here (in Houston)."
Qualls has 14 saves with a 3.07 ERA so far this season. In 44 innings, he's struck out 38 while walking only five. That effectiveness could make a difference for a team like the Tigers who, despite their record, have the second-worst bullpen ERA in the American League. Tigers manager Brad Ausmus is also familiar with Qualls back to their playing days, when Ausmus used to catch Qualls with the Astros from 2004-2007. That pitcher-catcher relationship was forged between the two in a way that goes beyond baseball.
"I love to hate him and he loves to hate me," Qualls joked. "No, it's great, especially since I was so young when he was a catcher. He already had so many years in the big leagues and I learned a lot from him. I mean, I could ask him anything and bounce anything off him. Even in the offseason, I'd talk to him about contracts and stuff like that. I just don't feel like right now would be a great time to call him and ask him a bunch of questions, but definitely, I'd call him a friend in baseball, a friend for life."
As the Tigers have put in that claim for Qualls, the onus now falls on the Astros to decide if they want to pull Qualls back off waivers, if they want to work out a trade of Qualls to the Tigers, or let the Tigers get Qualls off waivers. The reliever has said numerous times he'd like to stay with the Astros, but he also knows it's not something he can control.
"Anytime anybody wants you is a good feeling," Qualls said. "Obviously, they're in a pennant race over there and need some bullpen help. Flattering or not flattering, I still have a job to do here and basically, my commitment is to these guys and this team and trying to get the Houston Astros in a positive direction."