Tigers likely to offer contracts to all nine arbitration-eligible players

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Detroit – In the recent past, Tigers general manager Al Avila has made good use of the non-tender deadline to trim payroll. Catcher James McCann and reliever Alex Wilson are just two examples of that.

And yet, in a year where teams are expected to non-tender and send more players into free agency than ever – due to extreme financial setbacks last year and the uncertainty of what lies ahead in 2021 – Avila will most likely offer contracts to all nine arbitration-eligible players ahead of the Wednesday deadline.

Matthew Boyd


Because those nine arbitration-eligible players are expected to play vital roles in 2021 and, with most teams circling their financial wagons, the reasonable expectation is that the Tigers can work out short-term contracts with these players before the arbitration deadline of Jan. 15.

It’s also an indication of where the Tigers are in terms of the rebuild. The Tigers were still in tear-down mode when they designated McCann and Wilson for assignment. Trimming a potential $4 million contract, in the case of McCann, allowed them to bring four other players onto the roster.

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Now, with the hiring manager AJ Hinch, the expected big-league arrivals of the top pitching prospects, and Avila open to being at least a modest buyer in free agency, the Tigers are building back to contending status. These nine arbitration-eligible players represent a relatively cost-effective base.  

Here is the list, including the player’s 2020 salary (before proration) and a salary projection for 2021 (by MLBTradeRumors based on 2020 performance statistics):

►LHP Matthew Boyd, $5.3 million for 2020, $5.5 million projected for 2021.

►LHP Daniel Norris, $2.96 million, $3 million

►RHP Michael Fulmer, $2.8 million, $2.8 million

►CF JaCoby Jones, $1.575 million, $2.2 million

►1B Jeimer Candelario, $583,300, $1.7 million

►SS/2B Niko Goodrum, $698,200, $1.6 million

►RHP Buck Farmer, $1.15 million, $1.4 million

►RHP Joe Jimenez, $584,900, $1 million

►RHP Jose Cisnero, $571,200, $900,000.

If the Tigers decide not to offer contracts, non-tender them, the players will become free agents. No contract terms need to be disclosed before Wednesday. It’s just the club’s acknowledgement that they intend to work out a deal with those players, who technically are under team control.

If no deal is worked out before Jan. 15, then the club and the players submit salary figures to an arbitration panel.

Although he doesn’t consider it a goal or a point of pride, Avila has a history of getting contracts done ahead of arbitration. In fact, Fulmer in 2019 became the first player to take the Tigers to arbitration since 2001.

He lost his case.  

Given the current economic landscape – financial losses, uncertainty about future revenue and a flooded free-agent market – it seems likely both sides will be motivated to make a deal.   

Twitter @cmccosky