On Friday morning, the Tigers had seven players who were eligible for arbitration, with the deadline for clubs and players to exchange salary figures fast approaching. By Friday evening, the Tigers had reached agreement on salaries for the 2013 season with six of the seven players. The lone player to exchange salary figures is Max Scherzer, who is represented by agent Scott Boras.
The Tigers were able to come to terms on contracts, with salaries exceeding projections on all six.
Rick Porcello, in his second year of eligibility, made $ 3.1 million in 2012, was projected to receive $ 4.7 million, but received a contract for $ 5.1 million for 2013.
Doug Fister, in his first year of eligibility, made $ 507,500 in 2012, was projected to receive $ 3.8 million, but received a contract for $ 4 million for 2013.
Austin Jackson, in his first year of eligibility, made $ 500,000 in 2012, was projected to receive $ 3.1 million, but received a contract for $ 3.5 million for 2013.
Alex Avila, in his first year of eligibility, made $ 510,000 in 2012, was projected to receive $ 2.5 million, but received a contract for $ 2.95 million for 2013.
Brennan Boesch, in his first year of eligibility, made $ 502,500 in 2012, was projected to receive $ 2.1 million, but received a contract for $ 2.3 million for 2013.
Phil Coke, in his second year of eligibility, made $ 1.1 million in 2012, was projected to receive $ 1.7 million, but received a contract for $ 1.85 million for 2013.
The total that the seven players received in 2012 was $ 9.97 million
The total that they will receive in 2013, if Scherzer were to settle at the midpoint of $ 6.275 million, would be $ 26.425 million.
The total increases to the seven arbitration eligible players would be 16.475 million, plus or minus $ 675,000, depending on what happens with Scherzer.
The Tigers did not come to terms with Scherzer, so the two sides submitted salary figures to the major league office. Scherzer asked for $ 7.4 million, which is a bit below the MLBTR projection of $ 7.5 million, while the Tigers offered $ 6.05 million, which is closer to the pelaton (yeah, all this Lance Armstrong stuff is cycling in my head).
It's very common for the two sides to agree at the midpoint, which would be $ 6.725 million. That would make sense in this case for a few reasons also. Justin Verlander received a salary of $ 6.75 million in his fourth season. Verlander actually reached an agreement with the Tigers and then signed a five year extension for $ 80 million the following day. It would be fair to say that Scherzer is no Verlander, but also fair to say that he is one of the better pitchers in this year's class of second year arbitration eligible players. We analyzed the possibility of an extension for Scherzer here.
The six settled arbitration cases, plus a midpoint estimate for Scherzer add up to $ 26.425 million. Add that to the twelve players under contract for 2013 at $ 119.875 million, and add six players making the major league minimum of $ 500K, and that brings opening day to $ 149.3 million. That would easily be the highest payroll in club history, but well below the threshold where the Tigers would have to pay a luxury tax.
It is still very likely that the Tigers will reach an agreement with Mr Boras on a salary for Scherzer without having to break Dave Dombrowski's perfect record of never having to attend an actual arbitration hearing in his tenure with Detroit. Whether the two sides are able to, or want to come to terms on an extension beyond the next two seasons is another question. Boras has a pretty strong record of rarely coming to an agreement on contract extensions until he takes his player to market to shop for the highest bidder.
If the two sides do not agree on a number for 2013, hearings will be scheduled in February, and each side will present it's case before a panel of three professional arbitrators, who will choose one number or the other, but can not pick something in between.
Either way, Dave Dombrowski and crew have taken care of the vast majority of the contract work required prior to the 2013 season. I would like to see a focus on extending Justin Verlander, who has just two seasons left on his contract with the Tigers, and Miguel Cabrera, who has three years remaining. If and when those deals happen, we're likely to know about them only when they're done deals.
Just 17 more days until pitchers and catchers report to spring training. Let the games begin!