Raises likely in store for arbitration-eligible Tigers

Lynn Henning
The Detroit News

With their tradition for avoiding salary standoffs, the Tigers will attempt this month to sign four players who Tuesday became eligible for contract arbitration.

David Price, Al Alburquerque, J.D. Martinez, and new pitcher Alfredo Simon were among 175 big-league players who Tuesday filed for 2015 arbitration.

The Tigers and their four players can begin Friday exchanging one-year salary figures. If no contract is hammered out ahead of Feb. 1, the impasse and arguments are presented to a three-person panel in Phoenix, which decides on either salary figure presented. Compromise numbers are not allowed.

Not since Dave Dombrowski became front-office chief in 2001 have the Tigers failed to settle an arbitration-eligible case before the hearings deadline. And, in fact, it is rare when salary duels are forwarded for mediation. Of the 146 players who last year filed for arbitration, only three advanced to arbitration.

The Tigers, however, will be paying handsome raises in 2015, particularly in the cases of Price and Martinez.

Price, 29, and a left-handed starter who looms as Detroit's ace in 2015, figures to receive the highest arbitration-eligible salary in baseball history as he moves from last year's $14 million payday to a figure that could approach $20 million.

Percentage-wise, Martinez might stand the most to gain after he made just under $500,000 in 2014. Martinez, a right-handed hitting outfielder, became a Tigers regular after he was a waiver-wire pick-up in March and batted .315, with 23 homers, and a .912 OPS. He stands to win at least a 500-percent raise in 2015.

Alburquerque earned $837,500 in 2014 and will be drawing a significantly higher paycheck after he pitched in 72 games, with a 2.51 ERA. Alburquerque became a steady reliever in a Tigers bullpen that was notorious for its inconsistency.

Simon, 33, and a former reliever, was paid $1.5 million by the Reds in 2014 but now has the status of having started 32 games in 2014. The Tigers brought him to Detroit in a December trade and will now be obliged to pay him an appropriate wage, which figures to be exponentially higher after he pitched 196 innings and had a 3.44 ERA.

The Tigers, though, have factored estimated raises into a 2015 payroll that could reach $175 million or more. The question, soon to be answered, is how much those heavier-paid players ultimately draw.

And, just as much, whether numbers agreeable to all parties can be arranged, as has been the Tigers' tendency, ahead of a possible trip to Phoenix in February.