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5 Tigers players to exchange arbitration figures

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Salary figures are due to be exchanged by Friday, January 12.

Houston Astros v Detroit Tigers Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images

Friday, January 12 is the official deadline for Major League Baseball teams and arbitration-eligible players to exchange salary figures for the 2018 season. The Detroit Tigers have five players eligible for arbitration this winter: Jose Iglesias is eligible for the third and final time, Nicholas Castellanos and Alex Wilson are eligible for the second time, and James McCann and Shane Greene are eligible for the first time in their careers.

McCann and the Tigers have already agreed to a one year deal worth $2.3 million.

The Tigers eliminated the need to deal with several other arbitration eligible players earlier during the offseason.

  • Blaine Hardy was signed to a one-year contract worth $795,000.
  • Andrew Romine was claimed off waivers by Seattle
  • Alex Presley and Bryan Holaday cleared waivers and opted for free agency.
  • Bruce Rondon was released.
  • Justin Wilson would also have been eligible, but he was traded to the Cubs in July.

If no agreement is reached between the remaining eligible players and the team, a hearing will be scheduled between January 29 and February 19. Hearings take place before a panel of three arbitrators who award either the player's proposal or the team's salary figure for a one-year contract. The arbitrators may not award a different salary, and the salary given is always for one season.

Matt Swartz provides an annual arbitration forecast, which is published by MLB Trade Rumors. His projections have been routinely accurate and are the ones most often cited when making payroll estimates. Here are his arbitration projections for the Tigers:

2020 Detroit Tigers arbitration-eligible players

PLAYER Service time 2019 Salary 2020 Projected
PLAYER Service time 2019 Salary 2020 Projected
Matt Boyd 3.136 2.6 M 6.4 M
Daniel Norris 4.073 1.275 M 2.9 M
Michael Fulmer 3.157 2.8 M 2.8 M
Jacoby Jones 2.125 567 K 1.4 M
Buck Farmer 3.013 571 K 1.1 M

The six arbitration eligible players, including Hardy, stand to net about $20 million in salary, bringing the opening day payroll to about $124 million, according to Cot’s contracts. Castellanos leads the pack on the strength of a breakout season where he hit .272 with 26 home runs and led the club with 101 RBI. The fact that he expects to draw a higher salary than a defensive wizard such as Iglesias, who has an extra season of service time accrued, is an indication of what teams — and arbitrators — like to see when performing player evaluations.

Players are eligible for arbitration based strictly on major league service time. A player with at least three, but less than six, years of service time is eligible for arbitration unless he has a previously signed contract. A player with two years and 120 days on the major league roster (including time on the disabled list) is also eligible as a “Super Two” player. Hardy was the Tigers’ only Super Two player this year. For the first two seasons in the major leagues, most players earn near the minimum salary of $555,000 per season.

The primary factors considered by an arbitration panel are the player’s salary history, the amount of service time, the number of games or innings that the player has played and comparable salaries for players at the same position with similar criteria. An award such as an All-Star selection, a Gold Glove, or Silver Slugger is also considered.

A club can still release a player if they settle on a non-guaranteed (arbitration) contract prior to the season. If a player is released at least 16 days prior to Opening Day, the club will owe the player one-sixth of his salary for the season. If released prior to Opening Day but within 15 days of Opening Day, he must be paid one-quarter of his annual salary.

The vast majority of players who are eligible for arbitration reach a settlement with their clubs prior to the case going for a hearing. Of 190 players to file for arbitration last year, just 15 hearings were held with the players prevailing in seven of those. The Tigers managed to avoid any arbitration hearings every season under former general manager Dave Dombrowski, and Al Avila managed to keep that streak intact since taking over the job.