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Detroit Tigers 2017 roster breakdown: Options, service time, and free agency

Your complete guide to the Tigers’ 40-man roster, with options, service time, and free agency details.

Detroit Tigers v Minnesota Twins Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

The Detroit Tigers entered spring training with 12 players on their 40-man roster at more than five years of major league service time with guaranteed contracts. Five more players are out of minor league options, and can not be sent to the minor leagues without clearing waivers. Four of the remaining players were eligible for arbitration and have signed one-year contracts, and they all figure to be on the Opening Day roster, although they are not necessarily guaranteed a roster spot.

Daniel Stumpf is a Rule 5 draftee who can not be sent to the minor leagues without clearing waivers and being offered back to the Kansas City Royals. That adds up to 22 players, leaving just three roster spots open if they all make the team. This list does not include Michael Fulmer, James McCann, or Daniel Norris.

Players who are out of options include Jose Iglesias, Andrew Romine, Dixon Machado, Steven Moya, and Tyler Collins. One or more of these players will likely be traded or designated for assignment before the season begins.

Other players who can be optioned include Kyle Ryan, Mikie Mahtook, Shane Greene, Blaine Hardy, and Matt Boyd. This group has the disadvantage (for them) of having some options left. For every other player that the Tigers decide to put on the roster, another player will have to be cut, unless a spot opens up due to an injury or trade.

Here is the Tigers’ current 40-man roster, with each player’s service time and contract status entering the 2017 season.

Detroit Tigers 2018 payroll, options, service time, and contract status

Player MLB Service Options 2018 Salary Status
Player MLB Service Options 2018 Salary Status
Miguel Cabrera 14.100 --- $30 M FA 2023 ++
Victor Martinez 14.110 --- $24 M FA 2019
Jordan Zimmermann 8.150 --- $18 M FA 2021
Jose Iglesias 5.040 --- $6.275 M FA 2019
Francisco Liriano 11.100 --- $4.0 M FA 2019
Nick Castellanos 4.030 3 $6.05 M Arb 2nd
Mike Fiers 4.090 0 $6.0 M Arb 2nd
James McCann 3.030 3 $2.375 M Arb 1st
Shane Greene 3.080 1 $1.95 M Arb 1st
Alex Wilson 4.040 1 $1.925 M Arb 2nd
Leonys Martin 4.160 0 $1.75 M Arb 3 of 4
Blaine Hardy 2.130 1 $0.795 M Arb 1 of 4
Michael Fulmer 1.157 2 Minimum Arb 2019
Daniel Norris 2.070 1 Minimum Arb 2019
Matt Boyd 1.140 0 Minimum Arb 2019
Mike Mahtook 2.010 1 Minimum Arb 2019
Drew VerHagen 1.150 0 Minimum Arb 2019
Daniel Stumpf 1.160 2 Minimum Arb 2019
Buck Farmer 1.080 1 Minimum Arb 2020
John Hicks 1.000 0 Minimum Arb 2020
Warwick Saupold 1.040 1 Minimum Arb 2020
Dixon Machado 1.080 0 Minimum Arb 2020
Chad Bell 0.130 2 Minimum
Joe Jimenez 0.080 2 Minimum
Jeimer Candelario 0.060 1 Minimum
Artie Lewicki 0.030 3 Minimum
Johnny Barbato 0.110 1 Minimum
Jacoby Jones 0.130 2 Minimum
Zack Reinenger 0.040 3 Minimum
Sergio Alcantarra 0.000 3 Minimum
Sandy Baez 0.000 2 Minimum
Mike Gerber 0.000 3 Minimum
Grayson Greiner 0.000 3 Minimum
Ryan Carpenter 0.000 3 Minimum
Eduardo Jimenez 0.000 3 Minimum
Dawel Lugo 0.000 2 Minimum
Gerson Moreno 0.000 3 Minimum
Victor Reyes 0.000 3 Minimum
Gregory Soto 0.000 3 Minimum
Spencer Turnbull 0.000 3 Minimum

+ denotes a club option after the season indicated

Seven of the 12 longest tenured Tigers will be eligible for free agency after the 2017 season. Justin Upton could make it eight if he opts out of his contract. We can assume that the Tigers will pick up Ian Kinsler’s team option for 2018, and still at least half the list is departing after this season.

All the players above will be on the team in 2017, barring a trade or release. A trade would come with the benefit of clearing space for some of the other players who are out of options. Right now, the Tigers have some roster decisions to make.

Players with less than five years of MLB service may be optioned to the minors in three separate seasons. A rare fourth option can be used within five full seasons of a player signing his first pro contract, as with Drew VerHagen in 2017.

Players with less than 5 years of service time

Player Service time (YY/DDD) Options left Option years
Player Service time (YY/DDD) Options left Option years
Andrew Romine 4.049 0 2011, 2012, 2013
Jose Iglesias 4.036 0 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013
Justin Wilson 4.035 2 2012
Alex Wilson 3.038 1 2013, 2014, (2015)
Bruce Rondon 3.037 1 2013, (2015), 2016
Nick Castellanos 3.029 3 N/A
Shane Greene 2.075 1 2014, 2015
Blaine Hardy 2.037 2 (2014, 2015), 2016
James McCann 2.028 3 N/A
Kyle Ryan 1.113 2 (2014), 2015, (2016)
Tyler Collins 1.080 0 2014, 2015, 2016
Drew VerHagen 1.079 1* 2014, 2015, 2016
Daniel Norris 1.073 1 (2014), 2015, 2016
Buck Farmer 1.031 1 (2014), 2015, 2016
Mikie Mahtook 1.011 1 2015, 2016
Matt Boyd 0.169 1 2015, 2016
Michael Fulmer 0.157 2 2016
Steven Moya 0.130 0 2014, 2015, 2016
Daniel Stumpf 0.114 3 N/A
Dixon Machado 0.075 0 2013, 2015, 2016
John Hicks 0.069 1 2015, 2016
Warwick Saupold 0.068 2 2016
JaCoby Jones 0.034 3 N/A
Jairo Labourt 0.000 2 N/A
Victor Alcantara 0.000 2 2016
Myles Jaye 0.000 3 N/A
Chad Bell 0.000 3 N/A
Sandy Baez 0.000 3 N/A

*(year in parenthesis) indicate player was optioned for less than 20 days, which doesn’t use an option.

Armed with the knowledge of which players have options remaining, we can now examine what options Al Avila and Brad Ausmus have in retaining a 25-man roster for opening day.


McCann returns as the starting catcher, with Cabrera, Kinsler, Castellanos, and Iglesias around the horn. Avila will back up McCann behind the plate.

Andrew Romine figures to be the primary backup infielder, and may also see some duty in center field. Based on the Tigers’ prior history of carrying two backup infielders, Dixon Machado will likely make the team.


J.D. Martinez and Justin Upton return as the starting corner outfielders. If the Tigers carry 13 position players, including two catchers, that leaves two spots for a center fielder and one reserve outfielder between Collins, Moya, Mahtook, Jacoby Jones and non-roster invitees like Anthony Gose, David Lough or Alex Presley. Of those on the roster, Jones and Mahtook can be optioned. Gose, who is also out of options, was designated for assignment, cleared waivers, and outrighted to Triple-A Toledo.

Starting Pitchers

The Tigers have eight starting pitchers vying for five rotation spots. Verlander, Zimmermann, and Fulmer are locks. Sanchez and Pelfrey are the two struggling veterans trying to hold off Norris and Boyd. One or two starters could be moved to the bullpen, although Boyd has options. Realistically, Farmer and VerHagen will be on the farm for rotation depth.

Relief Pitchers

The other roster crunch will be in the bullpen. With Francisco Rodriguez closing, Mark Lowe making $5.5 million for the season, and three relievers — Alex Wilson, Justin Wilson, and Bruce Rondon — having just signed contracts to avoid arbitration, just two spots remain in the ‘pen. Daniel Stumpf is on the roster as a Rule 5 selection. With Hardy, Ryan, and Greene in the mix, not all of them can make the team.