Seven players who were on the Detroit Tigers’ 40 man roster -- including five who were on the playoff roster -- are now free agents. Second baseman Omar Infante, closer Joaquin Benoit, shortstop Jhonny Peralta, utility man Ramon Santiago, backup catcher Brayan Pena, and veteran relievers Octavio Dotel and Jeremy Bonderman are now free agents.
Following is the offseason calendar for the remainder of 2013:
Saturday, November 2nd: Teams have until midnight, eastern time to exercise or decline player options for 2014. Jose Veras would also be a free agent if the Tigers were to decline his option for $3.25 million for the 2014 season. Expect the Tigers to pick up Veras’s option.
Monday, November 4th: By 5:00 pm Eastern time clubs have to decide whether to make qualifying offers of $14.1 million for one season to their pending free agents. I would not expect the Tigers to make any qualifying offers, although I believe they will try to work out extensions with Infante and Benoit.
Monday, November 11th: At 5 pm, players who have been given qualifying offers can begin accepting the offers. If accepted, they are considered signed to a one year contract with a salary of $14.1 million. The amount is established by taking an average of the highest paid 125 players in Major League Baseball based on the average annual salary of their contracts, including bonuses.
When a player declines a qualifying offer and signs with another team as a free agent, his former club then receives a compensatory draft pick between the first and second rounds in the amateur player draft next June. The club that signs a player who has declined a qualifying offer will forfeit their first available draft choice. The top ten picks are protected from compensation. These teams forfeit their second round picks.
The Tigers probably will not make qualifying offers because none of their pending free agents are worth a $14.1 million salary. I would estimate that the Tigers’ free agents could earn these contracts on the open market:
Omar Infante: $25 million over 3 years
Joaquin Benoit: $15 million over 2 years
Jhonny Peralta: $16 million over two years
Ramon Santiago: $ 1.25 million for one year
Brayan Pena: $1 million per year for 1 or 2 years
Octavio Dotel: minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training
Jeremy Bonderman: minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training
Estimating contracts are a very inexact science, as things can change rapidly in the market place, and there is much more than just the free agent market to consider. Infante figures to be the best second baseman after Robinson Cano, although others may be available by trade. Peralta and Steven Drew are the only bonafide starting shortstops, and the Red Sox will make a qualifying offer to Drew, limiting his attractiveness to potential suitors. Benoit is one of about eight closers of various stripes on the free agent market.
I would fully expect the Tigers to make an effort to sign Infante and Benoit to multi-year deals. If an extension is not worked out fairly soon, Dave Dombrowski will likely go shopping for replacements.
November 20, 2013: At 5:00 pm Eastern, teams must submit their 40 man roster of players who are protected from the Rule 5 draft. The Tigers will likely add prospects such as Eugenio Suarez, Daniel Fields, and others to the roster at that time.
December 2nd, 2013: Teams have to tender contracts to their arbitration eligible players, or let them leave as free agents. The Tigers have nine arbitration-eligible players. Phil Coke, Don Kelly, and Andy Dirks are potential non-tender candidates. It's possible that the team could trade or release players prior to that date if they're not in the team's plans, or if they need the roster space for another free agent or prospect.
December 9-12, 2013: General Manager Winter Meetings in Orlando, Florida
December 12, 2013: Rule 5 Draft
Of course, the Tigers still need to hire a manager and could sign free agent players at any time after November 4.