2:30 update: Quotes from Brandon Inge and Tigers CEO/GM Dave Dombrowski are after the jump.
2:35 update: MLB.coms Jason Beck reports on Twitter Inge will receive $5.5 million each of the guaranteed two years. The option is worth $6 million with a $500k buyout. So Inge will make $11.5M minimum.
Not much news is known yet on this, but the Tigers announced via their Twitter feed they have agreed to terms with third baseman Brandon Inge on a contract extension.
He will remain under contract through the 2012 season with a club option for 2013.
Terms of the deal have not yet been announced.
I know we'll have more later with our reaction and hopefully some more information on the deal so keep checking back.
First, this news comes as absolutely no surprise to anyone, I think. Inge wanted to be a Tiger. Many of the fans wanted Inge to be a Tiger. I think the team wanted Inge to be a Tiger. They just had to sort out the exact wording of the contract and find financial numbers both sides were comfortable with. So the longest-running Tiger will remain so for a couple more years, and most people will be happy about that.
Will everyone? Of course not. Despite a poll that showed a lot of weight toward the middle among a limited sampling of Tigers fans, he remains a polarizing figure. That "aw shucks!" smile and attitude that can make him so easy to like also seems to make him easy to dislike for some, especially when he does something negative.
Inge has the franchise record for strikeouts, and he did that in roughly half the time it took the former leader to set it. Some believe Inge puts up his batting numbers only when the pressure is low or the game is well at hand. As I found at Fangraphs, his win probability added is the worst among position players on the team, and he fails to perform well when in high-pressure situations. This is a trend, not a one-season deal.
Another complaint: Inge is a below-average batter as a position often manned by guys who can really knock the ball around. His average has not been above .250 since 2006, and his slugging average has been above .400 just twice since then.
As well, Inge's defense has slowly declined since 2006. This may have been sped up by the pain he started experiencing in his knees in 2009 that forced him to have offseason surgery. Whether he continued to feel pain in 2010 and if it was a detriment to his game, only Inge, and possibly others in the clubhouse, knows.
Ultimately, the deal turns on three issues: The first, how much Detroit is spending to keep Inge around the next few seasons. The second, the probability they could have upgraded the position with the signing of a player like Adrian Beltre.
We'll learn the first answer sooner than later, I'm sure. The second, we'll never truly know. It's possible the Tigers felt they had little shot at landing a better third baseman than they already had. It's more likely they may have decided the added cost was not worth it and their money is better spent elsewhere. Simply put, they preferred Inge to looking around, and they had a good reason to.
That's because the third issue is contract length. The Tigers have not had any true third base prospects in the organization in some time. They had players who you could see manning the hot corner in a worst-case scenario, but no one you could see taking the baton for any length of time. They may feel like they have that player in 2009 draftee Wade Gaynor, who TigsTown recently named its player of the year for the Tigers' minor leagues. Gaynor spent this season at Low-A West Michigan. Nineteen-year-old Francisco Martinez from High-A may be another possibility by the time Inge's new contract expires. And of course, we have 2010 draftee Nick Castellanos to consider.
Point is, Inge's contract is the perfect one to form a bridge to the new generation, and he is a known commodity at a known price. If those guys do not develop as expected, they can check the free agent market again at that time. If they do develop, you've got some controlled costs and can spend elsewhere. That makes keeping Inge around a pretty sensible decision.
Like I said, it won't make everybody happy. It's possible there were other opportunities to be explored. But ultimately, the Tigers are able to cross one need off their list and put more effort into finding upgrades in the pitching corps and in the middle of the lineup.
The decision seems perfectly reasonable to me.
From the press conference:
FoxSports.com streamed the press conference (Check out the video archive). I pounded out a few quotes as fast as I could so you could catch the feel. Inge talks fast and I'm adjusting to a new keyboard still so I sometimes had to leave out a sentence but never one with must-have information.
"I want to say thank you to Mr. Ilitch. He does a great job on putting together a good team.
"I've been excited every time I watch TV and see a new guy we've signed (put on the jersey). ... I think I'm more excited now to get to keep my jersey on instead of putting another jersey on."
Re: talking with Tigers CEO/GM Dave Dombrowski about Detroit as a destination for players who want to make it to the World Series in 2011: "This has to be one of the top on the list. We have a great organization, a great owner who will go out to get the guys that we need. I wouldn't want to go anywhere else."
"There is a business side to it. That's what creates the team that we had. But I wouldn't allow myself to think too far past (the end of the 2010 season), because I wouldn't want it to effect anyone on the field. My obligation is to those guys on the field, the manager and coaching staff as well."
"There's no other place I'd rather be. This is family for me."
"Dave (Dombrowski)'s going to get the guys that are going to be above average on the field and are going to help us out. Where I can give the input is I know the guys presonally and how they are in the clubhouse. ... I'm not telling him how to do his job by any means, but if he ever had a question I let him know 'd help this team out in any way. I want this club to be great."
Re: Wanting to stay in the Metro Detroit area, where Inge owns a home: "We did make a decision about how nice the people are around here, how good the area is and how phenomenal the schools around here are. If I could stay here I could see more of my kids, my family. It's just more beneficial for our family doing it that way. We have a place down in South Carolina. The only reason it's better than up here is because the weather's not quite as cold in the offseason."
"The gamer aspect, giving everything he has day in and day out, I think he exemplifies what you loo for in a player. For us to have him as part of our organization again and to be in a spot where you can look forward to a lot of moves for our club to start here, is a lovely place to start.
"He and his lovely wife Shani ... do a lot in the community. It's great, it's something tehy do that sometimes gets a lot of publicity, but a lot of times they do it very quietly. When you can have people in your organization do that, it's an extra added plus and something that means so much to a community."
"We have a lot of steps we go through throughout the season and year-end planning. Once we hit our year-end planning it was a very simple solution in making that decision and making an offer.
"We had our coaches meeting, and we in turn had our front-office people there, every single person in that room wanted to bring Brandon back, felt it was very important for us. I think it was the last Friday (of the season) that (Tigers legal counsel and vice president) John (Westhoff) reached out to Brandon's agents. So it was something we hoped would get done relatively quickly. There's always give and take and we had to make some compromises."
I think that if we can get Jhonny Peralta and we can him back, you talk about having Brandon and Jhonny on that side of the infield. You talk about having two real quality players. Brandon's defense and his range would complement Jhonny's ... average type range at shortstop with good hands, but with Brandon's defense over there it would be a good complement to one another, and you also get some offense from those two spots. If's a good start for us then all of a sudden if you get that situation done, and we've got Cabrera at first and we know we're going to stick to the young guys at second base competing with Carlos Guillen depending on his health, all of a sudden you're saying the infield is pretty well set. Your catcher spot, we've talked about Alex being our main guy and trying to supplment him. All of a sudden you fill a lot of holes and you start to focus in on some of your other needs, which we'll start to do after the World Series."
When asked about the 2011 payroll Dombrowski said they haven't even begun to have those discussions.