The Tigers are next in MLBTR’s 2013 Contract Issues series:
Eligible For Free Agency (3)
- Delmon Young - Young hasn't done himself many favors at the plate (.669 OPS) or off the field this season. Victor Martinez will return as the Tigers' designated hitter by 2013 and it won't be surprising if Martinez's return eases Young out of Detroit.
- Jose Valverde – Last year's streak of successful save conversions shouldn't obstruct the fact that Valverde’s in decline. It’s not that his past contributions have already been forgotten or that he won't be a useful reliever in 2013, but a commitment of more than $5MM would be an overpay given the unpredictability of relief pitchers and the right-hander’s peripheral stats.
- Gerald Laird - Laird, 32, continues to contribute as a backup catcher. Perhaps another one-year deal in the $1-2MM range will work for both sides. None of the Tigers' three free agents should expect qualifying offers next winter.
Contract Options (2)
- Octavio Dotel: $3.5MM club option with a $500K buyout. Manager Jim Leyland is limiting Dotel's exposure to left-handed hitters and the 38-year-old is pitching well. At a net cost of $3MM, Dotel could be retained as the team's right-on-right specialist.
- Jhonny Peralta: $6MM club option with a $500K buyout. Even if Peralta doesn't hit the way he did in 2011, the team figures to exercise this option at the end of the season. He has more power and better on-base skills than the average shortstop and remains serviceable on defense, according to The Fielding Bible Volume III. A net commitment of $5.5MM for the shortstop's age-31 season seems like a good deal for the Tigers.
Arbitration Eligible (9)
- First time: Alex Avila, Doug Fister, Brennan Boesch, Austin Jackson
- Second time: Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello, Phil Coke, Don Kelly
- Third time: Ryan Raburn
The Tigers' next arbitration class includes three fifths of the team's starting rotation and much of its outfield. Retaining these players will cost a whole lot, likely more than $20MM. GM Dave Dombrowski has hinted that the team will consider extensions for some players after the season. Avila's on track for a raise to the $3MM range, and Jackson's 2013 salary could also approach $3MM. Fister could have 600 career innings by the time the season ends, so he'll be among the game's best-compensated first time eligible pitchers. Raburn has been a major disappointment at the plate this year, so a non-tender isn't out of the question.
2013 Payroll Obligation
The Tigers have committed just over $87MM to next year's team, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts. Owner Mike Ilitch has regularly spent more than $100MM on his team and payroll rose to $133MM for 2012 following last offseason's Prince Fielder signing. Dombrowski should have some flexibility next offseason, though his major pieces are already in place.