Friday, November 30, is the deadline for major league clubs to offer a contract to players on their roster who are not signed but are eligible for arbitration, or let the players leave as free agents. Once Friday’s deadline has passed, several more players will have been "non tendered" and will be free to sign with any club.
In most cases, a player can not become accumulated six years of major league service time. But in some cases, a player’s salary history and past performance leads to circumstances where the player is making more money than the club believes he is worth, and the club will not risk over paying him through the arbitration process. A club must offer a player at least 80% of his previous season’s salary, but in reality, salaries don’t go downward in arbitration as players gain more major league experience, regardless of performance.
When the season ended, the Tigers had three players who were identified as candidates to be non tendered. Don Kelly made $ 900,000, and was only going to make more money through arbitration, so he was released shortly after the season ended. Ryan Raburn made $ 2.1 million in 2012, and clearly wasn't worth it, so he was released on November 20 to make room on the roster for a prospect in need of protection in the upcoming rule five draft.
Brennan Boesch would appear to be another non tender candidate, but Dave Dombrowski told reporters at the end of the season that the club plans on offering Boesch a contract. After making the major league minimum last season, Boesch would be eligible for arbitration for the first time this winter. Although he was left off the playoff roster, he logged enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title, and would be paid like a full time outfielder with overall passable numbers. He’d get in the $ 2 million salary range, but the club could save a portion of that if he were to be released before the end of spring training. He remains a candidate to be traded.
While there may be no news flashes coming from the Tigers’ front office on Friday, there may be players from other clubs who are not tendered contracts by their former clubs. Such players will make good fodder for the rosterbation machine. Here are some names of possible non tender candidates that may be of interest to Tiger fans.
Drew Stubbs, Outfielder, Reds The Reds may be weary of waiting for the breakout season from Stubbs, who is in line for a hefty raise in arbitration. A career stat line of .241 .312 .386 .698 over 2000 plate appearances isn't what the Reds had hoped for. However, he is a right handed hitting outfielder with a solid glove who has hit .276 .344 .476 .821 against left handed pitching, and he has 59 home runs and 110 steals in his four seasons.
Brendan Ryan, Shortstop, Mariners Maybe the best defensive shortstop in the major leagues, but with a Ray Olyler like bat. Ryan actually has a career line of .244 .306 .327 .633, but was awful at the plate last summer and should not be viewed as more than a defensive replacement. A helluva defensive replacement.
Ben Francisco, Outfielder, Rays The once promising former Indians' outfielder has been with five teams, including three last summer. He has a respectable stat line of .257 .326 .425 .751 with rather even splits vs left handers and right handed piitchers alike, 49 home runs and does a reasonable job in the outfield but hasn't been able to settle in anywhere.
Sean Rodriguez, Infielder, Rays Once a blue chip prospect, the Angels traded S Rod for Scott Kazmir, and he has been a solid utility infielder for the Rays, never settling into a starting role. It's unlikely the Tigers would deal Peralta to make room for Rodriguez, but he'd be a better utility man than what they have.
Rafael Perez, relief pitcher, Indians The Indians designated their lefty reliever for assignment this week following a season where he only threw eight innings and had surgery late in the year. He threw over 70 innings each of the previous two years and was very tough on the Tigers. If he can be had on an incentive laden deal, he could be a nice addition to the bullpen.
Brian Wilson, Closer, Giants I've never been a fan of the beard, but the three time all star who missed the entire 2012 season on the disabled list figures to be a free agent when the Giants non tender him on Friday. If the Tigers are inclined to sign a closer, Wilson may be a bargain.
Jair Jurrjens. Starting pitcher, Braves Tiger fans still moan the loss of JJ in perhaps the worst trade that Dave Dombrowski has made as Tigers when he sent Jurrjens to the Braves for Edgar Renteria. After battling injuries the past two seasons, Jurrjens split time between AAA and the Braves last year, and posted a 6.89 ERA in ten starts with Atlanta last summer. If the Tigers are looking for rotation depth, and nobody offers him a major league contract...
John Lannan, Starting pitcher, Nationals Lannan was the odd man out when the Nationals bolstered their rotation last winter. He made just six starts, posting his usual 4.00 ERA. The lefty can eat innings, but wouldn't figure to be an upgrade for the Tigers unless they lost a current starter to injury.
Cory Wade, relief pitcher, Jays The former Dodger, former Yankee has had an up and down career marred by injuries, always threatening a breakout season to match his promising rookie season in LA. Someone will give him a contract, but the Tigers figure to look for more consistency, despite the promising upside.
Taylor Teagarden, Catcher, Orioles; The former Rangers and Red Sox catcher, once highly regarded, has never been able to figure out major league pitching, but is thought to be a solid defender behind the plate. Bryan Holaday has as much chance of success at this point, although some depth in the system couldn't hurt. He'll probably have to settle for a minor league deal.
Nate Schierholtz, Outfielder, Phillies; The Giants sent him to the Phillies for Hunter Pence last summer. Hit 257 .321 .407 .728 in 2012, although the Tigers don't have a great need for another lefty hitting outfielder.
Sam Fuld, Outfielder, Rays. Was given the nickname "superman" because of several spectacular defensive plays, Fuld is a Tampa crowd (all three of them) favorite. He'd fit the "defensive replacement" mold, but another outfield lefty isn't what the Tigers need.
MLBTR posted a comprehensive list of non tender candidates at the end of October.
Note: To "non tender" a player doesn't really require any action on the part of a club. It's actually a non action. The non tender deadline would more accurately be called a "tender deadline". If the club doesn't tender an offer to the player through his agent and have papers filed with the league office before the deadline, the player is said to be "non tendered". A club will often make an announcement that they've decided not to offer the player a contract, but that's merely a courtesy. We commonly use the term "non tender" as though it were a verb, rather than perform the linguistic gymnastics necessary to be grammatically correct.Just roll with it.