Arbitration Eligibles: Detroit Tigers

So far in our arbitration eligibles series we've covered all of the AL East: the Orioles, Red Sox, Yankees, Rays, and Blue Jays.  Now we take on the AL Central starting with the Tigers.

I can see the Tigers tendering contracts to all but Thomas.  Porcello and Kelly project to be arbitration eligible as Super Twos.  Starters Porcello and Scherzer should get nice first-time salaries in the $4MM range.  Porcello, especially, is helped by a pre-arbitration salary of $1.536MM owing to the Major League deal he signed out of high school.  Kelly might get around $700K, while Coke projects at $1.4MM.  Thomas has battled elbow issues for most of the year, and the Tigers tried to outright him but had to put him on the 60-day DL.  He's likely to be cut prior to the non-tender deadline.

Young's non-tender candidacy was a factor in his trade to the Tigers.  His power has bounced back in 89 plate appearances with Detroit, though he's yet to draw a walk.  If you look at Young's current 2011 counting stats – 7 home runs, 49 RBIs, 39 runs – they should lead to a relatively meager raise.  We're thinking a $725K bump to a $6.1MM salary, a gamble the Tigers might take if they like what they see for the rest of the year.

If the Tigers retain Jose Valverde for $9MM and tender contracts to all arbitration eligibles, they'd have just under $100MM in 2012 commitments.  With a 2011 Opening Day payroll of $107MM, the Tigers would have to trade someone or raise payroll to 2008-10 levels to be able to add a prominent free agent or two.


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