Discussion: Magglio Ordonez

Judging from what Jim Leyland told MLB.com's Jason Beck, Magglio Ordonez's 2010 season may well be over.  Ordonez has been sidelined since he fractured his right ankle in a July 24 game against Toronto, and while the veteran outfielder is now out of his cast and on crutches, his best-case diagnosis is at least two more weeks on the DL.  As Beck hears from Detroit head trainer Kevin Rand, running puts added stress on the fracture, so it's a risk to bring Ordonez back until his injury is fully healed.  What with the Tigers having fallen out of the AL Central race, there's also no pressing need to get Ordonez back in the lineup.

As MLBTR's Zach Links reported when the injury occurred, the fractured ankle was particularly costly for Ordonez not just because it cut short a solid season and all but ended the Tigers' playoff hopes (Detroit is 8-18 since July 24), but also because it impacts Ordonez's future.  The injury ended any chance Ordonez had of reaching the vesting option that would have guaranteed him a $15MM contract for next season.  Ordonez had to reach 135 starts or 540 plate appearances this season, or a combined 270 starts or 1.080 PAs in 2009-10 — the injury left him with 71 starts and 365 PAs in 2010 and 173 starts/883 PAs over the two-year span.

The question now is, did Ordonez's fateful slide against the Blue Jays also end his stay in Detroit?  Though Ordonez has been very productive (.874 OPS wearing the gothic D) and relatively healthy over his six seasons in Motown, he also turns 37 in January.  As Bobby Abreu, Vladimir Guerrero and Detroit's own Johnny Damon have showed us in recent years, the market for aging outfielders starts much lower than Ordonez's $15MM club option. 

Detroit has a lot of payroll coming off the books this winter, and thus could choose to spend some of that money on a top free-agent outfielder or DH rather than fill those spots with aging options like Ordonez or Damon.  That said, while it seems likely the Tigers will decline their club option, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the club bring Ordonez back on a one-year, $7-$8MM contract that includes an option year and incentives.  It would be a solid gesture for a player who has been a team leader on and off the field.   

If the Tigers don't pursue him, a similar contract will no doubt be waiting for Ordonez with another club.  Given that Ordonez had a .303/.378/.474 slash line before his injury, he could do for a new lineup similar to what Vlad Guerrero has done for Texas this season.

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