After agreeing with Shane Greene on a $4 million contract late Thursday evening, the Detroit Tigers have come to terms with two more of their arbitration-eligible players, according to Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press. Lefthander Daniel Norris and the Tigers agreed upon a $1.275 million contract for 2019. The Tigers also came to terms with southpaw Blaine Hardy, per Fenech, but the contract details are still unavailable.
Update: The Tigers have also agreed to terms with Matthew Boyd, according to Robert Murray of The Athletic. Boyd will earn $2.6 million in 2019.
Norris suffered through yet another injury-plagued season in 2018. He started the season in the bullpen, but was soon sidelined with a groin injury that eventually required surgery. Norris missed four months of action, but returned in September to make six starts. He showed flashes of his former self at times, but ultimately finished the year with a 5.68 ERA in 44 1⁄3 innings.
Norris will make $1.275 million in 2019, a shade lower than the $1.4 million salary he was projected to receive by Matt Swartz at MLB Trade Rumors. Norris is in his first year of arbitration eligibility, and will be a free agent after the 2021 season. Hardy is arbitration-eligible for a second time, but is a “Super Two” player. He still has two years of club control remaining after the 2019 season, and will be a free agent after 2021 like Norris.
As we noted with Greene, the Tigers are taking a slightly different approach to contract negotiations this year, which could ultimately put their longstanding streak of avoiding arbitration at risk this offseason. Norris and Greene have both received lower salaries than forecasted, bucking the team’s long-held trend of paying at or slightly above Swartz’s projected salaries.
If Hardy follows this trend, he will receive less than the $1.2 million he was projected. He is coming off arguably the best season of his career, in which he posted a 3.56 ERA in 86 innings split between the rotation and bullpen. Hardy’s 3.00 strikeout-to-walk ratio was a career-high, and he posted career-best totals in both forms of WAR.
The Tigers have now agreed on terms with four of their six remaining arbitration-eligible players. While Greene’s projected $4.8 million salary was the second-highest of the bunch, one could argue that the two remaining players — Nicholas Castellanos and Michael Fulmer — are among the most important on the entire roster. Castellanos is projected to receive $11.3 million in his final year of arbitration eligibility, while Fulmer is projected for $3 million. Both Fulmer and Boyd are “Super Two” players, and are in their first of four years of arbitration eligibility (they will be free agents after the 2022 season).