Tigers, Iglesias reach $2.1M deal; J.D. Martinez still unsigned

Lynn Henning
The Detroit News

Jose Iglesias and the Tigers connected Friday, but the Tigers and outfielder J.D. Martinez are still sparring over the slugging outfielder’s 2016 salary.

Iglesias, the Tigers’ starting shortstop, agreed with the Tigers on a $2.1 million base salary for 2016 as players and teams reached an initial Jan. 15 deadline for players who are eligible for salary arbitration to agree with their teams on new contracts.

The figures were reported by Jon Heyman of the MLB Network.

Iglesias’ signing left the Tigers with only one arbitration-eligible player unsigned ahead of today’s initial deadline: J.D. Martinez, who like Iglesias had an All-Star season in 2015, and who was still working with the Tigers on a potential agreement that might allow both parties to avoid next month’s binding arbitration hearings when figures are settled by an outside panel.

Martinez made $3 million in 2015 and, Heyman reported, is seeking $8 million for 2016, while the Tigers are offering $6 million.

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Arbitration hearings are set to be heard from Feb. 1-21, at which time players and their agents make their cases before a three-person panel. Players and their teams each submit figures, with the panel deciding on either figure as the just settlement. There can be no middle ground or altered numbers presented by the deciding panel.

It is likely the Tigers and Martinez, who is represented by Garmer of RMG Baseball, in Chicago will continue negotiations and arrive at an agreement in advance of any arbitration hearing.

The Tigers have not gone to arbitration with a player since 2001, when they triumphed over pitcher Chris Holt.

Martinez, 28, had his second consecutive stunning season for the Tigers in 2015 when he batted .282, with 38 home runs, and an .879 OPS. He had 33 doubles, 102 RBIs, made the All-Star team, and finished 15th in voting for American League Most Valuable Player.

Martinez’s whopping 2015 followed a 2014 breakthrough season in which he joined the Tigers in April and became one of the big leagues’ stunning stories, shooting from the waiver list and a minor-league assignment to batting .315 in 123 games, with 23 homers, 30 doubles, and a .912 OPS in only 480 plate appearances.

Iglesias, who turned 26 on Jan. 5, had excellent leverage heading into negotiations by virtue of some concise accomplishments from the 2015 season.

In addition to making the American League All-Star team, he batted .300 in 123 games. That was sufficient to give him a 50-percent raise in his first season of arbitration eligibility. Iglesias, according to Heyman’s report, could also cash in on potential performance bonuses in 2016.

The Tigers had four arbitration-eligible players in 2016. Earlier this week, they agreed to deals with relief pitcher Justin Wilson ($1.52 million), and with infielder Andrew Romine ($900,000).

The team begins spring training on Feb. 18, when pitchers and catchers initiate camp at Lakeland, Fla.