Tigers' Arbitration forecast: High pressure front moving in

Duane Burleson

The Tigers have nine players who are eligible for arbitration this off season. Their total pay raises could increase the payroll by up to $17 million. Here's a look at the forecast.

While the Tigers have seven players who are eligible for free agency, at least temporarily reducing their payroll by almost $24 million after declining the option on Jose Veras, they also have nine players eligible for arbitration for the 2014 season. These nine stand to get pay raises of approximately a combined $16.6 million if they're all retained. There are also six veterans under contract who will make a collective total of $13.25 million more than they earned for the 2013 season. The net impact would be an increase in payroll of $5.85 million before the team replaces any departing free agents, including Omar Infante, Jhonny Peralta, and Joaquin Benoit.

We broke down the complete Tiger payroll situation including departing free agents, returning veterans, and players still under club control in this article. I used arbitration figures that were on the high end of the margin because we were looking for a comfortable spending margin while remaining short of paying a luxury tax.

Matt Swartz has a model for estimating what players who are eligible for arbitration will receive for one season, and his calculations are published here on MLBtraderumors.com. Following is a chart showing the Tigers who are eligible for arbitration, and the impact of their projected salary increases on the Tiger payroll for 2014.

Detroit Tigers Arbitration-Eligible Players, 2014 Season
Player Arbitration Year 2012 Salary 2013 Salary 2014 Estimate Estimated Increase
Max Scherzer 3 of 3 $3.75 million $6.725 million $13.6 million (13.6)
$6.875 million
Rick Porcello 3 of 4 $3.1 million $5.1 million $7.7 million (7.0)
$2.6 million
Doug Fister 2 of 3 $500,000 $4.0 million $6.9 million (6.0)
$2.9 million
Austin Jackson 2 of 3 $500,000 $3.5 million $5.3 million (5.25)
$1.8 million
Alex Avila 2 of 3 $500,000 $2.95 million $ 3.7 million (4.75)
Phil Coke 3 of 3 NTC
$1.1 million $1.85 million $2.1 million (2.5)
Don Kelly 3 of 4 NTC
$900,000 $900,000 $ 900,000 (1.2)
Andy Dirks 1 of 4
$485,000 $505,000 $ 1.7 million (2.1)
$1.195 million
Al Alburquerque 1 of 4 $495,000 $500,000 $ 700,000 (1.0)
TOTAL -- -- $26.0 million $42.6 million (43.3)
$16.6 million (17.5)

Matt Swartz's estimates for 2014are listed with my original guesstimates in parentheses. We're less than 1 million apart, on the total arbitration increases.

NTC denotes non-tender candidates.

Keep in mind that the club has to tender a contract offer to arbitration eligible players by December 2nd or allow them to leave as free agents. The contract offer must be at least 80% of the previous year's salary, but more importantly, the player then heads toward an arbitration hearing date early in the new year.

Using Matt's arbitration numbers, together with the $ 107.8 million which will be paid to players under contract, and filling out the roster mostly with players making near the minimum, the projected payroll would be around 157 million. If you were to add, say $ 16 million for Benoit and Infante..... you do the math. It's getting expensive in Motown.

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