Tigers catcher Alex Avila has a clause in his contract that would have automatically triggered the $5.4 million option on his contract for the 2015 season. If Avila had won the Silver Slugger award for catchers, made the 2014 All-Star team, or finished among the top 15 players in the American League’s MVP voting, the option would have vested. None of those things happened. Regardless, the Tigers decided to exercise the option on his contract and pay him the $5.4 million rather than taking him to arbitration.
Joakim Soria has a $7 million option for the 2015, which was also exercised by the Tigers. The option would have risen to 8 million if he finished a certain number of games in 2014. His injury and his non-closer status with Detroit prevented that from happening.
Joba Chamberlain picked up an extra $500,000 based on game appearances in 2014, bringing his salary up to $3 million. He is one player that the team has not brought back for 2015.
Several Tigers’ player have performance bonuses written into their contracts that could boost their salaries for the 2015 season.
Ian Kinsler will receive a $100,000 bonus if he makes the All-Star team.
Yoenis Cespedes has performance bonuses that include a $50,000 bonus for an All-Star selection.
Joe Nathan has a $10 million club option in his contract for the 2016 season with a $1 million buyout.
Tom Gorzelanny has a $1 million base salary, plus $50,000 each for 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 games started, and $25,000 each for 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, and 65 relief appearances.
Joel Hanrahan was signed to a minor league contract that will pay him $1 million for his time in the major leagues, if he is called up. The deal also has other incentives that could add up to $2.5 million in performance bonuses. While not disclosed, the bonuses are very likely for appearances or games finished.
Victor Martinez has partial no-trade protection that allows him to block trades to ten teams in 2015. After that, his 10-and-5 rights allow him to block trades to any team.
Justin Verlander could receive a bonus of $100,000 if he is an All-Star. He also has a no-trade clause, and is beginning a five year extension that has a team option for a sixth season. That option vests automatically if he finishes in the top five in the Cy Young voting in 2019.
Miguel Cabrera could earn several award bonuses: $100,000 each for All-Star selection or ALCS MVP; $150,000 for World Series MVP; $200,000 for MVP ($100,000 for 2nd in MVP vote, $50,000 for 3rd-5th); $1 million for winning a second MVP during the contract, which covered the 2008 to 2015 seasons. Miggy has already been there, done that, and picked up his bonus. Cabrera also has two club options for the 2024 and 2025 seasons, at $30 million per season. The 2024 option carries an $8 million buyout, and both options vest with a top ten finish in the MVP voting the previous season.
The Tigers would love nothing more than for all these players to earn their performance bonuses. Any bonus actually paid would be included in the team’s payroll for luxury tax purposes. They would also be included in the salary calculation of the 125 highest paid players in the major leagues for purposes of determining the qualifying offer for free agent compensation after the season.