2012 Contract Issues: Detroit Tigers

The Tigers are next in our 2012 Contract Issues series.  Here's what the team faces after the 2011 season:

Eligible For Free Agency (5)

  • Carlos Guillen had knee surgery in September, and coupled with recent back tightness there's no timetable for his 2011 debut.  It's safe to say the Tigers will be moving on.
  • Magglio Ordonez is on the DL for right ankle weakness.  Surgery on that ankle ended his 2010 season in July.  His '11 season is too much of an unknown to make any predictions for '12.
  • Brad Penny has already topped last year's nine starts, though his peripheral stats suggest an ERA close to 5.00.  I imagine Penny will keep getting chances.
  • Joel Zumaya had exploratory elbow surgery this month and may not return this season.  The Tigers won't be re-signing the hard-throwing righty, wrote SI's Jon Heyman.
  • Utility infielder Ramon Santiago is also eligible for free agency.

Contract Options (1)

  • Jose Valverde: $9MM club option with no buyout.  Should the closer's success continue, the Tigers will probably exercise his option.

Arbitration Eligible (6)

Porcello, Scherzer, Coke, and Perry are the significant cases.  Porcello has a cheap club option for '12, though I imagine he can and will choose arbitration instead.  Scherzer has built a strong resume, and while he's not in Clayton Kershaw/David Price territory he could get $4MM.  Porcello, starting from a higher salary than most pitchers, could reach the same level.  Coke and Perry should be more affordable.  In total I'll estimate $11MM for the four.   

2012 Payroll Obligation

The Tigers' 2012 payroll obligation, according to Cot's, is $73.875MM.  Add in Valverde and the arbitration eligibles and they're around $94MM, $13MM shy of the 2011 payroll before accounting for minimum salary players.  The Tigers' payroll has topped $130MM a couple of times, so there might be additional flexibility.

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