Detroit – When the 2019 season ended, Tigers general manager Al Avila was staring at a list of nine players who would be eligible for salary arbitration before the 2020 season. Those nine players, had they gone to arbitration and were awarded near their projected estimates, would cost the club close to $20 million.
That was never going to happen, not at this point of the Tigers’ rebuild. So, veterans Blaine Hardy, John Hicks and Daniel Stumpf were released and Drew VerHagen, who likely would’ve been non-tendered, signed to play in Japan.
The five remaining arbitration-eligible players were expected to be tendered contracts ahead of the 8 p.m. deadline Monday. That doesn’t mean they will all go before the arbitration panel in February. More likely they will work out contracts for 2020 and possibly beyond.
The deadline to exchange salary figures is Jan. 10, and negotiations can continue until Feb. 3.
Here are the five players, with their projected arbitration value, as calculated by MLBTradeRumors.com. Though generally accurate, the MLBTradeRumors estimates for the Tigers’ players the last two years were high.
►Matthew Boyd, $6.4 million.
►Daniel Norris, $2.9 million.
►Michael Fulmer, $2.8 million.
►JaCoby Jones, $1.4 million.
►Buck Farmer, $1.1 million.
It will be interesting to see if the Tigers take a proactive approach with Boyd, perhaps working out a contract extension to take him through the final three years of club control. The sense in the organization at the end of last season was, instead of looking to trade Boyd, perhaps offer him a multi-year commitment to anchor the starting rotation going forward.
Fulmer, coming off Tommy John surgery and won’t be ready to contribute until after the All-Star break at the earliest, isn’t likely to cost the Tigers $2.8 million.
Of more pressing interest for Avila and his staff on Monday were players other teams might chose to non-tender. Two years ago, the Tigers pounced on Mike Fiers and Leonys Martin after they were non-tendered.
Last year the Tigers non-tendered James McCann, who went on to an All-Star season with the White Sox.
Among players who could become free agents this way include first baseman C.J Cron, outfielder Leury Garcia and former Tigers closer Shane Greene. Already, there are players who were designated for assignment last month who could intrigue the Tigers, like second baseman Yolmer Sanchez and first baseman Jesus Aguilar.
Let the roster churning begin.