clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Do you approve of the J.D. Martinez extension?

New, comments

The Tigers may have saved some money, but Martinez won't be in Detroit any longer than originally expected.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

On Monday the Tigers tied up the last remaining loose end on their complex roster construction, avoiding arbitration with J.D. Martinez. The two sides agreed on a two-year extension worth $18.5 million rather than allowing the case to be decided in an arbitration hearing.

Former General Manager Dave Dombrowski never allowed a case to go to hearing under his tenure, usually giving some ground and settling on a contract both sides could agree on. Current GM Al Avila has followed suit during his inaugural offseason, as Martinez is the last of the Tigers’ arbitration-eligible players.

The Tigers submitted a salary of $6 million for 2016, and Martinez submitted $8 million. If the case had gone to a hearing, one of the two numbers would have been selected, not something in between. Quibbling over $2 million may seem silly now, but prior to the Justin Upton signing it was the difference in exceeding the luxury tax threshold.

The new contract guarantees Martinez $6.75 million in 2016 and $11.75 million in 2017. It doesn’t keep him in a Tigers’ uniform any longer than he would have been without the extension, but it does probably save the Tigers some money. Not much, but some. Probably.

The larger impact of the deal is the implication that the Tigers and Martinez aren’t likely to come to terms on a long-term contract -- at least, not until after Martinez becomes a free agent, at which point the Tigers will have to compete with the rest of the market to retain his services. At that time, Martinez will be 30 years old and joining a free agent class that also includes Lorenzo Cain, Carlos Gonzalez, and probably Justin Upton.

Martinez may have been reluctant to give up his chance at a huge free agent contract -- who could blame him? -- but the Tigers may have also balked at the idea. Of the nine players signed to major-league deals this winter, only Jordan Zimmermann is guaranteed a salary beyond 2017. In fact, Zimmermann is one of only five players currently under contract for the 2018 season, and it’s not a stretch to think that the Tigers are unwilling to commit any more payroll beyond the next two years.

Many fans wanted to see the Tigers lock Martinez up to a longer deal, but whether he prefers to hit free agency or the Tigers prefer to retain their financial flexibility, they couldn’t find enough common ground. Barring a trade, Martinez will remain a Tiger for two more seasons, but after that the Tigers will have to pay the going rate if they want to keep him.