How High Can Tigers' 2012 Payroll Go?

If theTigers intend to upgrade their roster during the coming off season, or even to replace the players that will depart due to expiring contracts, they’re going to need to increase payroll above 2011 levels. A little payroll math shows that, after the Tigers picked up the option on Jose Valverde and dumped Brad Thomas, as expected, payroll will be a few million dollars below opening day 2011, before filling any of the vacancies created by expiring contracts, even if they are to be filled by players making the major league minimum $ 414 K per season (subject to change with the new CBA). Essentially, it's almost a wash, and payroll today stands a little below where it was on opening day, 2011.

Following is an updated breakdown of the Tigers' payroll, the impact of departing free agents, expiring contracts, scheduled salary increases, and pending arbitration increases. As a reference point, we use 2011 opening day payroll of $ 107 million. The information is updated to include the additions of Delmon Young, Wilson Betemit, Doug Fister, and David Pauley, and the subtractions of our dearly departed free agents, pending arrival of their replacements.



Carlos Guillen $ 13 Mil
Magglio Ordonez $ 10 Mil
Brad Penny $ 3 Mil
Joel Zumaya $ 1.4 Mil
Ramon Santiago $ 1.35 Mil

Total Expiring Contracts $ 28.75 Million


Justin Verlander $ 7.25 Mil
Jose Valverde $ 2.0 Mil
Miguel Cabrera $ 1.0 Mil
Victor Martinez $ 1.0 Mil
Ryan Raburn $ 800 K
Jhonny Peralta $ 250 K

Total Salary Increases $ 12.3 Million


Delmon Young (5.373 Mil) +$ 6.5 Mil * (fn 1)
Max Scherzer (600 K) + $ 3- 4 Mil
Rick Porcello (1.3 Mil) + $ 3 Mil** (fn 2)
Phil Coke (440 K) +$ 1 Mil
Brad Thomas (800 K) + $ 0 *** (fn 3)
Don Kelly (425 K) + $ 300 K

Total Estimated Arbitration Increases + 14.3 Million


Total Expiring Contracts -$ 28.75 Mil

Total Salary Increases +$ 12.3 Mil

Total Estimated Arbitration Increases + 14.3 Million

$ 800 K additional reduction for removal of Brad Thomas

$ 2.95 Million net reduction (estimate)

Calculations are prior to vacancies being filled.


Outfielder to replace Ordonez
Second baseman to replace Guillen
Third baseman to replace Betemit/ Inge
Starting pitcher to replace Brad Penny
Relief Pitchers to replace Joel Zumaya and Brad Thomas
Infielder to replace Santiago
Replacements could come from within, at a cost of $ 400 K each

THE BOTTOM LINE is that the total payroll is projected to be just a few million under 2011 opening day after subtracting the expiring contracts, and adding the salary increases and arbitration increases. That’s without replacing the players whose contracts are expiring. Even if most of those players are replaced mostly with minor leaguers earning the major league minimum salary of $ 414,000.00, payroll will not be going down in 2012. Essentially, this means that every new player that the Tigers acquire by trade or by free agency will increase their payroll dollar for dollar in an amount equal to their annual salaries. Hopefully, a nice boost in revenue from a playoff run in 2011, plus an anticipated boost in season ticket sales for 2012 will allow for an increase in payroll to near previous levels seen in recent years. Let the off season begin!

FN 1: Delmon Young’s full estimated $ 6.5 million is added to the total payroll, since he was not on the 2011 opening day payroll at all.

FN 2: Cot's contracts at one time had a note that Porcello could opt for arbitration instead of the club option in 2012 if he was eligible. That note has disappeared, but if that's the case, he'd surely opt for arby instead of a $ 1.3 MM salary next year, and that would put him in the 3- 4 mil range as a first year eligible SP. MLB Trade Rumors reports that arbitration would override the club option and Porcello is arbitration eligible as a "super two". Kid Rick is now included in the arbitration increase estimates.

FN 3: The Tigers attempted to outright Brad Thomas during the season, but he reported an injury and was instead placed on the 60 day disabled list. Since he is arbitration eligible, it is expected that he will be non tendered and become a free agent. In any case, he will not receive a salary increase. Final calculations assume that Thomas is non tendered. He was outrighted earlier this week and may choose free agency, which is also likely.

FN 4: The contracts for Doug Fister and David Pauley will neither increase nor decrease the total payroll, since they are essentially taking the place of others making at or just above the major league minimum. Neither player is eligible for arbitration until the 2013 season. The contract of Wilson Betemit is neither a savings nor a cost, since he was not on the opening day roster in 2011 and is a free agent at the end of the season.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of the <em>Bless You Boys</em> writing staff.