2011 Contract Issues: Detroit Tigers

The Tigers have one contractual option, but it may be decided before the end of the season.  Magglio Ordonez's $15MM option vests with 135 starts or 540 plate appearances.  Barring injury, he'll get there.  On the plus side, it represents a $3MM decrease from his 2010 salary.

In 2011 the Tigers will finally be free of many ill-advised contracts.  Their eight free agents are earning a total of $56.675MM this year, led by Jeremy Bonderman, Dontrelle Willis, Nate Robertson, Johnny Damon, and Brandon Inge.  Robertson is now with the Marlins, but the Tigers are paying most of his salary.  Factor in the money the Tigers are shedding for Ordonez and they've got just under $60MM coming off the books.

The increase side is light – Justin Verlander gets a $6MM bump.  They've got Ryan Raburn as a first-time arbitration player, Zach Miner going for a second time, and Joel Zumaya a third.  If payroll is held steady, the Tigers will have a whopping $50MM+ to work with.  Even if it's reduced, the Tigers are in good position to work the free agent market to find a left fielder, third baseman, shortstop, and a starting pitcher or two.

Thanks to Cot's Baseball Contracts for the info.

55 Responses to 2011 Contract Issues: Detroit Tigers Leave a Reply

  1. j6takish 5 years ago

    I’m not thrilled about Magglios option vesting, but there isn’t a lot to be done about it. He is still a hot hitter and benching him would hurt, unless we somehow fall 10+ games back. I am thrilled about having 50mm to work with, and the Granderson trade (for the time being) looking like an overwhelming success

    • mistermonkey 5 years ago

      Magglio’s contract is an issue, although I try to keep in mind how desperate the Tigers were when they signed him to attract big-name players like him to Detroit.

      Either way, the real prospect that Magglio’s option will vest is nowhere nearly as annoying as the fact that the Tigers are on the hook for $13M yet again for Carlos Guillen in 2011. That extension — like the completely unnecessary Robertson, Willis and Sheffield extensions — never made sense, especially for Guillen, a guy who, while obviously a decent hitter at the time of the re-signing, had never proved he could stay healthy for an entire season and was aging fast. Loved him in 04-07 when he was cheap, but man, check his stats for 08-10 while he’s been making big bucks — brutal.

      • j6takish 5 years ago

        A shortstop hitting 330 with 20 Hr’s? How could you not love him, I do not love him as a 13mm dollar guy who can’t even stay healthy as a DH for gods sake

  2. bigpat 5 years ago

    This team should have a pretty interesting offseason. I don’t see them keeping payroll where it’s at right now, maybe drop it down to 100M or something, but they have a ton of options.

    They can keep Damon, or have their choice of Crawford or Werth, and they should also be able to sign a good pitcher if they want. But they also need a 3B and SS which aren’t too easy to come by on the free agent market.

    • Yankees420 5 years ago

      I think Werth is an excellent target for Detroit, his defense will play in Comerica and Magglio would probably slide over to LF, thus making him less of a liability in the field. Jayson Werth can also be the bat to protect Miguel for the next few years.

      • Yankees420 5 years ago

        Didn’t realize how many RH bats the Tigers already have, Crawford does fit better I guess.

  3. LongGone6 5 years ago

    they need a left handed bat. i’d bet on them going after Crawford before Werth. Inge will be back on the team, altho hopefully at a much reduced rate. I cant think of any good SS going into FA, but maybe they ship one of their young arms to get one

    • mistermonkey 5 years ago

      I bet Crawford tops on the list, and if they fail to get him by December, I bet they’ll just re-sign Damon. They are in dire need of a left-handed bat. It’s been ugly. If only they could get rid of Guillen, they could try and sign Dunn to be the DH.

      • LongGone6 5 years ago

        Guillen is under contract and when helathy he performs decent enough, but if they are seeking a DH type player, why not Carlos Pena, who used to be a Tiger anyway. hes younger than Dunn
        that said, i think pursuing a DH type is not going to happen
        more likely a strong bidding war for Crawford

        • mistermonkey 5 years ago

          Carlos Pena is actually a year and a half older than Adam Dunn. Plus, Pena is a better defender than Miguel Cabrera, so if anything, you’d be pushing Cabrera to DH with that signing, and I don’t know if the Tigers would even consider that yet. Something totally crazy but even more amazing would be if the Tigers got in the mix for Adrian Gonzalez. Dombrowski drafted Gonzalez in 2000 when he was the GM of the Marlins, so there’s definitely history there, and the Tigers do have the prospects to pull off a deal like that. But they’d have to give up a lot, so it probably won’t happen.

          • j6takish 5 years ago

            I don’t want to start a “who is better” debate, but putting forth any effort whatsoever for Agon when we already have Cabrera, the upgrade is minimal, if any at all

          • mistermonkey 5 years ago

            Oh no, I was talking about keeping Cabrera and ALSO trading for AGon — could you imagine having Crawford-Cabrera-AGon hitting 3-4-5 in the lineup for the next 5 years?

          • Yankees420 5 years ago

            So what they have a 21MM per year DH, and a soon to be 22-25MM per year 1B? Yankee-esque.

  4. TwinsVet 5 years ago

    This is frightening.

    Their payroll seems bound to come down, with the Detroit market having some of the highest unemployment in the nation. I think I’ve seen references to their front office saying the current level is unsustainable over the past couple years.

    But even if they have $30m to play with, and no longer obligated to play guys like Bonderman and Willis, I only see them improving.

    Thank God Porcello isn’t Verlander 2.0, or they’d be hands-down AL Central favorites. As it stands, their rotation isn’t very intimidating after Verlander, and I don’t see $30m getting them very far if they’re looking for elite pitching and elite hitting help…

    • I wouldn’t get too down on Porcello yet. He’s striking out more batters and he’s maintained his groundball rate, so he looks like a pretty solid 4/5 starter right now.

      Yeah, that’s not what you’d hope for given his talent, but it’s progress. If he ever figures out how to miss more bats on top of his excellent batted ball numbers, he’ll match up with Verlander. And it will be very scary.

      But yeah, the Tigers are really setting themselves up nicely. They’re giving a lot of cash to Cabrera and Verlander, but those guys are straight up elite so at least they’re getting a return on their investment. They got some nice young pieces in place in Jackson, Porcello, Sizemore, Scherzer and potentially Avila. The farm system is improving although the position player talent is certainly lacking.

      And as has been noted, they’re going to be loaded with money after the next couple seasons. Minnesota is in a great position, Chicago can be dangerous, and Cleveland should really improve soon, but Detroit is right up there, they’ve done a nice job of fixing what was a potentially brutal situation.

      • TwinsVet 5 years ago

        I agree with everything you said.

        And yes, Porcello will probably be fine, but last year, he looked like a legit ace. Looking like “solid 4/5″ potential is quite a fall from where he looked 9 months ago. Frustrating for Detroit fans, a great relief to the rest of us!

        I think I speak for most Minnesota and Chicago fans when I say we hope they simply use their pile of money to make more ill-advised signings!

        • See, the thing is that he really didn’t look like an ace last season. He struggled to strike batters out and primarily benefited from a relatively high strand rate. His K/BB and FIP were below average, although his 4.32 xFIP would’ve been an exactly league average FIP for last season.

          The only thing that he really did well last season with induce groundballs, otherwise he was essentially a below average starter. It would be a huge success if he repeated his ERA/W-L from last season while actually supporting those numbers with his peripherals, which really wasn’t the case in 2009.

        • Porcello’s BABIP is extraordinarily high, which is a pace that will not be able to continue. He’s started off slow, and if you remember last year he started off slow as well.

    • alphabet_soup5 5 years ago

      Even Verlander had a bad year in 2008. Porcello is doing poor so far, but it is only May. Definitely still possible he comes back to do well. The Tigers have the means to trade for Prince Fielder next season, and can sign at least 2 impact players this offseason. Even now a 3.5 game lead isn’t very safe for the Twins.

    • Tigers94 5 years ago

      You will be surprised, the Tigers have 45,000 at every game. I might be biased, but we can sign Crawford/Werth and Cliff Lee for 30-35 mil. They will have up to 60 mil to spend, 75 mil if Ordonez doesnt take the option. I don’t want to spend it all now, with Robinson Cano and Fielder/Gonzalez available. After werth and lee, they still have 40 mil left, enough to maybe sign ordonez to a cheaper contract, and sign a reliever. It’s kinda cool to have all this money available as a tigers fan, because with our team now, they have to be the favorites next year

  5. bjsguess 5 years ago

    The Tigers can outbid ANYONE this off-season. They have that much flexibility.

    The better question is IF the Tigers should be going after big name players, with big annual contracts and lots of years. That’s exactly how Detroit got in this mess to begin with.

    Werth or Crawford would be smart (assuming that they are priced right). The rest of the money should be spent on lower name, lower obligation players. If we’ve learned anything this few years it’s that you can get quality talent in the $3-7m range. Not top shelf talent, but guys that generally are significant upgrades over current talent on the team.

    • mistermonkey 5 years ago

      Agreed about the “IF” part of this. Should they really be throwing tons of cash around at long-term contracts? I loved the Damon signing because, for one year, there’s no risk involved. There are guys like that available every offseason that you can use them to build onto the core of Miguel Cabrera, Austin Jackson, Verlander, Porcello and Scherzer. But Dunn and Crawford are two guys that would actually significantly help the team — Dunn, because he’s a lefty power bat that won’t be another one of these swing-at-the-first-pitch bozos who always kill Tigers’ rallies, and Crawford because he’s Carl “Effing” Crawford. The problem with Dunn is, where do you play him in 2011 unless you get rid of Guillen?

  6. SDscott16 5 years ago

    sign Dunn to DH & Cliff Lee, bring Inge & Damon back on a 1 year deals. Look into Stephen Drew or Furcal for SS. You can probably get all that done for around 40M.

    • mnrunleft 5 years ago

      Lee will be looking for upwards of $20 million per season and a long term commitment. Dunn will likely get a slight raise over his current $10 million per season contract and Inge and Damon would put the Tigers over $40 million before they even think about adding a SS.

  7. lefty58 5 years ago

    The Tigers, Twins and Indians (2012) are going to dominate this division for years.

    • LongGone6 5 years ago

      indians? riiight. Tigers have sick young talent and payroll flexibility, White Sox have pitching and a few young prospect, Twins look to be loaded all the way around
      exactly how are the Indians going to do anything in 2012? they have one good pitcher. and one good young talent in LaPorta. Sizemore will be out of his prime by then. and the rest of the team is pedestrian at best.

      • lefty58 5 years ago

        The Indians farm system is loaded, thats why.

        • LongGone6 5 years ago

          how does that lead to them dominating the division? youre banking that young “loaded” farm system will be in the majors, and meshing as a group by 2012? yeah, keep dreaming. more likely than not Cleveland spends the next three seasons or so in 4th or 5th place while that young talent develops and they wait for their ridiculous contracts to go away, See: Travis Hafner. the big thing youre missing is that the ENTIRE TEAM will be young, raw and unproven at major league level at that time. wheres the veterans to build around and guide them? you think the manager situation will be stable that whole time? HA. more likely this is a case of wishful thinking and fandom rather than reality.

          • mistermonkey 5 years ago

            The Indians’ farm system is totally loaded (Carlos Santana, Jason Donald, Carlos Carrasco), but this is the franchise that traded Brandon Phillips for Jeff Stevens.

          • SDscott16 5 years ago

            wasn’t it Lee Stevens? I also think donald is a marginal prospect. Their rotation is thin and they don’t have alot on the fiels outside of Choo and Sizemore (who sucks lately). They’re not in the same class as the Twins and Tigers.

          • mistermonkey 5 years ago

            Actually, I believe Lee Stevens came to the Indians with Grady Sizemore, Cliff Lee and Brandon Phillips in the ridiculous Bartolo Colon deal with the Expos. Jeff Stevens (a pitcher) came to Cleveland for Phillips (and was sent to the Cubs as part of the DeRosa deal).

  8. drumzalicious 5 years ago

    Wow didnt realize they had that much money coming off the books. Wonder if they go after someone like Cliff Lee

  9. SDscott16 5 years ago

    Sign Carlos Pena, Cliff Lee, Damon, & Inge. Trade Cabrera to Braves for Hanson, and Escobar & Schaeffer. Offense looks better and rotation is stacked. Payroll would actually decrease. Rotation: verlander, lee, Scherzer, hanson, Porcello.
    P.S. I know Braves are high on Freeman. They could trade him for other help.

    • Ferrariman 5 years ago

      not happening. the tigers would never let go of cabrera, conversely, the braves would never let go of hanson.

      if it were up to me, the ideal offseason would be to sign 2 of jorge de la rosa, kevin correia, ted lilly, bronson arroyo, aaran harang, or some other middle group starter.

      than get a real thirdbaseman that can hit; aramis ramirez, troy glaus if he’s healthy
      re-sign damon
      make a run at werth. leave crawford alone.

      that would make them pretty damn good.

      • LongGone6 5 years ago

        why would they want to lave crawford alone? a speedy left handed hitter who can anchor the 2 spot in the order, and play outfield, why would you want werth over him? makes no sense. theyre both good players, but tigers have enough right handed hitters who have no speed.

        • Ferrariman 5 years ago

          because crawford is a leadoff/#2 hitter. two things the tigers DO NOT NEED!

          they have a-jax leading off for probably a long time
          and i said IF they re-sign damon, if they let him walk, then sure, go for crawford

          sorry, should have been more clear with my previous post

  10. tigers22 5 years ago

    SO pumped to see what this off-season has in store for us. With the right moves, this team is going to be a force not only in the Central but all of the AL for the next 5 years or more

  11. hockeycenter15 5 years ago

    I feel the Tigers are in great shap this offseason. The big needs next year will be as follows:

    Left Field
    Third Baseman
    2 Starting Pitchers

    I think the Tigers could easily fill these needs. I would be by addressing the starting pitching. I would let both Willis and Bonderman go. I would then convert Phil Coke to a starter to clean up one of those two starting pitcher spots. I would then bring up Daniel Schlereth and then bring back either Galarraga or Minor battle it out for the fifth spot. I’d bring back Johnny Damon and Brandon Inge on one year deals if you can. Then at shortstop, I’d look at Orlando Cabrera on a one year deal. I’d avoid Crawford because he would be way too expensive to sign.

    • Ferrariman 5 years ago

      4 positions that need a premium upgrade is gonna cost over 50million….

  12. daoty 5 years ago

    I think Carl Crawford as young as he is some 3 years younger then worth the fact he is left handed and his speed make him the perfect 3hitter for tigers lock him up 6 or 7 years. The next 6 years think jackson Crawford and Bosche rooming the of thats amazing defense and great speed and power. I think they wont sign a ss but bring up one of the two young ss prosepcts they have. They will come after one sp and probably resign which ever willis or bonderman has a decent season. After years of no production and high pay maybe they will sign cheep. AS for 3rd base Inge or Armanis Ramerez will be 3rdbase. we care about defense. So unless we make major trade thats how i see it. Damon may be back for another year as well as Dh. Then 2012 another 35 million comes off the books tigers are young enough have good enough arms and a few small moves, sign crawford find a 3rdbaseman that year 2012 that we could be W>S> favorite very important offseason dont get old avoid werth

  13. The Tigers should go after Carl Crawford!! He’s a FA at the end of the year.He would be an absolute perfect fit for them in LF and to bat 2nd in the lineup.

  14. jphenix2002 5 years ago

    I would love to see Detroit go after Carl Crawford and Cliff Lee next offseason. The Tigs need a good lefty SP bad and I still think they need better speed and defense. I think Crawford could thrive in Comerica Park.

  15. Inge is good as gone. He’s batting .222 and his average is dropping faster than Paris Hilton’s panties in the back of a limo.

    And, while Inge was never terribly fleet of foot, he’s become a Sean Casey caliber liability on the base paths.

    Zero stolen bases this season and Inge has only managed to make it across home plate without the benefit of a HR 4 times this season in 135 at-bats.

  16. Inge is good as gone. He’s batting .222 and his average is dropping faster than Paris Hilton’s panties in the back of a limo.

    And, while Inge was never terribly fleet of foot, he’s become a Sean Casey caliber liability on the base paths.

    Zero stolen bases this season and Inge has only managed to make it across home plate without the benefit of a HR 4 times this season in 135 at-bats.

  17. Inge back up to .270 sign him for 2 years, Boesch in LF, don’t need Crawford. Stud LH starter (Oswalt or Lee), SS Florida’s Hanley Ramirez would be a great fit with all the Latin American players already signed for 2011. Decent hitting catcher would be nice, (should of kept Pudge).

  18. Tigers94 5 years ago

    1. Sign Cliff Lee for 15-17 mil
    2. Sign Jayson Werth or Carl Crawford for 15-18 mil
    3. Sign a lefty reliever, such as Scott Downs or Will Ohman for 5-7 mil
    4. Re-sign Inge for 3-5 mil, or sign Jorge Cantu for 8-10 mil
    At this point, the tigers will spend about 40-50 mil. Still have 10 mil left unless we dont keep mags, then we have 25 mil left. With Guillen as a FA next year, we will have 38-48 mil off this years payroll, which will probably be kept to reduce payroll.

  19. Tigers94 5 years ago

    There is good news for the tigers, now they dont need to pick up Mags’s option. Their offseason priorities should now be 1. Sign Cliff Lee for 17 mil 2. Sign Carl Crawford for 16 mil 3. If not Crawford, sign Werth for 16 mil *This leaves us with 36 mil* 3. Re-sign Magglio for 8 mil and Inge for 4 mil 4. Sign a reliever, preferably left handed, for 5 mil. We now cut 22 million off our payroll, and cut 13 more when guillen leaves the next year. Still having Cabrera, Verlander, Porcello, Valverde, Coke, Scherzer, Boesch, Jackson, next year could be a very good year

  20. cbraendle 5 years ago

    Priorities for this year, IMO:
    1. Get Carl Crawford, no matter what. A guy of his unique talent doesn’t hit free agency too often.
    2. Re-sign one of either Brandon Inge or Jhonny Peralta to a 1-3 year deal. I prefer Inge, but that’s just me. Possibly go after Aramis Ramirez/Beltre.
    3. Re-sign one of either Maggs or Damon to a one or two year deal.
    4. Stay away from Cliff Lee. $20 a year for a long-term deal for a 32 year old? No thanks. We do need a quality starter or two, however. I like Bondo for cheap to battle as a fifth starter with Armando/Coke. I like Ted Lilly for the right price, but pretty much any other middling starter. We can worry about starting pitching when better ones hit the market next year.
    5. We need a catcher. I’m sick of our damn catchers hitting .200 the whole year. With that being said, however, stay away from V-Mart, if the Sox let him go. I really like Buck or Olivo.
    6.We need another good, veteran reliever in the ‘pen. I like Downs the best. There’s also Crain, Dotel, etc..

    Next year we can worry more about starting pitching. For now, let our young guys get the starts and see how they progress (Scherzer and Porcello). I think we’re set with an above average rotation for next year with Verlander, Scherzer, Porcello, and whichever two starters want to battle it out for the last two spots (Free agents that i suggested, Bondo, Armando, etc..) During the course of the season, hopefully a blockbuster deal becomes available for a good shortstop, such as Hanley, or perhaps for a 2nd baseman like his teammate Uggla.

    I agree with everyone on Carl Crawford. He’ll by 29 on opening day, and yes, he will very soon be on the other side of 30. That doesn’t mean he’ll all of a sudden lose his speed, though. Look at Juan Pierre. He leads the damn league in stolen bases and he’s 33. Crawford has elite speed, is a .300 hitter every year, has 20 homer power, around 30 doubles, and double digit triples every year. He is a great fielder, and just think about Crawford and Jackson in two OF spots. You could put basically anyone out in right field defensively (See: Ordonez, Magglio). Just shade A-Jax over there a few steps.

  21. They already have Drew, Ellsbury and Cameron all locked up for 2011. No way that they squeeze Werth or Crawford in there barring a very, very surprising trade.

  22. bigpat 5 years ago

    I don’t see why not. They have a ton of money to spend and an opening in the outfield. The Yankees really don’t need an outfielder right now, and the Red Sox don’t either until Cameron and Drew leave. They can plug Werth right in the heart of the order and be set with him and Cabrera.

  23. mistermonkey 5 years ago

    With all the money coming off the Tigers’ books, this could be one of the few times in Major League history where a team can actually outbid the Yankees and the Red Sox. Where Crawford is concerned, it’s about need. The Tigers actually need Crawford; the Yankees do not. The Dodgers and a bunch of other teams need Crawford just as much as the Tigers do, so he might not end up in Detroit, but I think to consider Crawford a foregone conclusion in pinstripes next season is a mistake. No way do the Tigers go after Werth, though, unless Magglio’s option somehow doesn’t vest — they have enough right-handed outfielders.

  24. mistermonkey 5 years ago

    Damon deserves another deal… if the Tigers can’t sign Crawford. A cheap Inge for one more season after this is better than the alternative — the free agent market at 3B is really thin this offseason and the Tigers have jack all in the minors at 3B.

  25. mistermonkey 5 years ago

    I completely agree that Porcello will be fine. He tried to add a pitch or two or something during spring training, and I bet that screwed his mechanics up. And yeah, the defense. Hideous. Anyway, he started horribly last year, too. His next start might be ugly, though (vs. NYY).

    I agree that the Tigers don’t need to splurge on a starter this offseason — try to convert Coke, use Galarraga (if he stays consistent at Toledo) or sign a low-end FA (even Bonderman) to tide over spots #4 and #5 in 2011 until Crosby/Turner/Oliver are ready. No reason to throw a ton of cash at a FA — especially Lee, who will be 32 this offseason.

    One quibble, though, is that the Tigers haven’t been major players on the FA market recently precisely because they’ve signed so many players to long term deals. Even next year they’re only going to need a LF, SS and 3B (assuming Sizemore and Avila pan out, and Maggs’ option vests), and I definitely expect Inge to be re-signed for a year or two. So we’re talking only a need for two free agent position players, and there’s not really a good option in the free agent pool for a SS this offseason, so hopefully they’ll make a trade there, or do a one-year deal for a guy like Alex Gonzalez.

    But Crawford in LF is a must, in my opinion. There’s really no one who the Tigers could use more — he’s a major upgrade from Damon both offensively and defensively and there’s really no one else like him currently playing in the Major Leagues. It’s a rare opportunity.

  26. Yankees420 5 years ago

    I actually hope the Yankees do get outbid for Crawford, I think the team needs to try to get Cliff Lee more and with having to re-sign Jeter and Mo, they really can only sign one top-tier FA while keeping payroll steady.

  27. Tigers94 5 years ago

    I would like to see us go after Jorge Cantu or Ty Wigginton to play at 3B, and then put Crawford in left, Jackson in Center (Anyone that tries to hit left-leftcenter-center is an out every time) and Boesch in right.

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