Off-season calendar: Decisions imminent on Peralta and Dotel

Will Jhonny Peralta be the Tigers' shortstop in 2013? - Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE

The major league baseball off season begins with clubs making decisions on players with club options for the 2013 season. For the Tigers, that means the futures of Jhonny Peralta and Octavio Dotel have to be decided.

Three days after the end of the World Series, Nov. 1, major league baseball clubs will make decisions on whether to exercise the options in the contracts of certain players for the 2013 season.

For the Detroit Tigers, this means that a decision will be made whether to bring back Jhonny Peralta at a salary of $6 million, or to buy out his contract for $500,000 and make him a free agent. The club must also decide whether to exercise the $3.5 million club option on Octavio Dotel, or buy out his contract at a cost of $500,000

It seems likely that the team will decide to exercise the options on both players and bring them back for another season. For the value that the players provide on the field, both contracts are very reasonable, and both players should, if nothing else, be worth more than their contracts even if the club decides to replace them. In other words, the players could be traded for value if that’s what the club decided to do.

Peralta, in particular, is in a good position with the Tigers. Coming off a mediocre season for him, the Tigers would surely like to have a player with greater range at shortstop, but there are few or no options available on the free agent market, and no upgrades appear to be available on the trading block.

The Toronto Blue Jays are likely to make shortstop Yunel Escobar available in a trade. Escobar is due to make $5 million in 2013 and the club has options for $5 million in 2014 and 2015. The club is reportedly unhappy with Escobar’s "makeup." Escobar posted a .253 average for the 2012 season, but had a lower on base percentage with less power than Peralta.

In the field, Escobar has greater range than Peralta, and Bill James’ defensive runs saved (DRS) have him calibrated at a plus 15, while Peralta is a negative one. UZR/ 150 has Peralta well above average in the field, at plus 11.7, and Escobar at plus 5. Enough reason to question UZR right there, in my opinion.

The Oakland A’s have a mutual option with recently acquired shortstop Steven Drew, at $ 10 million for the 2012 season. The option has a buyout of $ 1.35 million should the club decide he’s not worth it. He’s not with that much. Drew hit just .223 between the two leagues this season, without much power, and his defense was well below average by all measures. What was once a promising career, now looks like a rehab project. A team, maybe Oakland, will gamble that Drew can regain the form he showed with Arizona in 2010, when he was viewed as one of the future stars at shortstop. The Tigers won’t be going in that direction.

Jhonny Peralta had a sub-par season offensively, by his standards. Tiger fans may have been expecting more power like he displayed in 2011, but that was above average for the former Cleveland shortstop. Still, Peralta’s 2.9 WAR was the third best of his 10 seasons in the major leagues, and the Tigers’ production from the shortstop position was generally above the league average in all but batting average and base running numbers. That includes both home runs and RBI as well as slugging numbers such as OPS.

For all the grumbling about Peralta’s range, he provides pretty close to league average defense at shortstop because he is very steady making the plays that he gets to. The Tigers would do well to use defensive replacements more frequently and upgrade their defense at the position in the late innings, but that is no consolation to a pitcher like Rick Porcello, a ground ball pitcher who could use the defensive help in the infield.

One factor to consider with Perlata is the fact that the number of plate appearances that he saw with runners on base, and runners in scoring position were down significantly in 2012 from the previous season. Put Victor Martinez and Andy Dirks in front of him instead of Delmon Young and Brennan Boesch, and he should hit for a better average and drive in more runs.

All things considered, we’d all like to have a shortstop that hits .300, steals some bases and has greater range, but until the Tigers find one of those, picking up Peralta’s option should be a no brainer.

Octavio Dotel was signed as a free agent relief pitcher and did an admirable job in a set up role for the Tigers at a salary of $3 million. To say that Dotel is a journeyman is a gross understatement, as he has been with a record 13 major league clubs in his career.

Dotel made 57 appearances for the Tigers, posting an ERA of 3.57 and a WHIP of just 1.00, striking out more than a batter per inning, and holding opponents to an average of .230. The 38 year old right-hander held right-handed batters to a .197 average, and was still serviceable against lefties. Dotel threw five scoreless innings in the post season.

A club uses seven relief pitchers, and with Jose Valverde likely to leave as a free agent, the Tigers don’t want to have to replace another veteran reliever that provides valuable innings for them.

The Tigers will have other decisions to make on some of their own pending free agent players by November 3. The club will not be making qualifying offers to free agents Jose Valverde, Delmon Young, or Gerald Laird, but they may choose to sign any of them as free agents, or to replace them. The Tigers also have a sizeable class of arbitration eligible players, not all of whom will be tendered contracts for 2013.

As usual, BYB will be on top of all off season movements, rosterbating and exploring possibilities over the winter.

Some important dates on the off season calendar:

Nov. 1: Clubs must decide whether to exercise club options on players for 2013 season.

Nov. 3: Clubs must decide whether to make a "qualifying offer" (about $ 13.5 million) to their free agent players in order to be eligible to receive draft pick compensation should the players sign with another team.

Nov. 4: Free agent players may sign contracts with other teams.

Nov. 10: Players who have received a "qualifying offer" must decide whether to accept the one year offer or become free agents.

Nov. 7- 9: General Manager meetings.

Nov. 20: Teams must set their 40 man rosters in advance of the Rule 5 draft.

Nov. 30: Clubs must tender contracts to arbitration eligible players, or allow them to leave as Free agents.

Dec. 3-6: Winter meetings in Nashville, TN.

Dec. 6: Rule 5 draft in Nashville, TN.

2013

Mid-January: Teams and players exchange salary arbitration figures.

February: Arbitration hearings for unsettles arbitration cases.

Feb. 14 (estimate): Pitchers and catchers report to spring training

March 2: World Baseball Classic begins in locations around the world

April 1: Tigers open the season at Minnesota

April 5: Tigers’ home opener vs New York Yankees at ComericaPark

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