The Detroit Tigers began the day with five players eligible for arbitration. That number has now been reduced to one, after the team reached agreement on one-year contracts with the following players:
Gerald Laird: $ 2.8 million
Edwin Jackson: $ 2.2 million
Bobby Seay: $1.3 million
Joel Zumaya: $735,000
That leaves the biggie among the arbitration-eligibles, pitcher Justin Verlander.
Is he close to agreeing on a contract with the Tigers. According to Jason Beck, he and his agent are asking for a $4.15 million contract, while the team filed for a $3.2 million deal. Quite a difference in figures there, which could lead to an ugly negotiation. Or perhaps the two sides will decide to settle by giving in on approximately $500,000 before arbitration hearings begin on February 1.
The preferable option Detroit, of course, is to pound out an agreement on a long-term contract, something that Dave Dombrowski has been very good at arranging during his tenure with the Tigers. The Phillies and Cole Hamels may have provided a starting point (as MacRae mentioned in another post) with the three-year, $20.5 million deal agreed upon last week. And you could make a pretty good case that Hamels is a better pitcher right now.
But considering how the Tigers have been burned on the contracts they handed out last year to Dontrelle Willis and Nate Robertson, might Dombrowski be a bit less willing to take a long-term chance on a pitcher - even if Verlander is likely a stronger bet for future success?