Friday, January 15, 2021 was the deadline for players eligible for arbitration and their clubs to submit their salary proposals to each other. The Detroit Tigers had nine players eligible for arbitration this off season, including pitcher Michael Fulmer, who settled with the club on a one year contract worth $3.1 million earlier in the week. On Friday, the team came to terms with eight more players, avoiding the possibility of an arbitration hearing.
Matt Swartz publishes the most widely accepted estimates for MLBtraderumors.com, Due to the abbreviated season in 2020, he produced a set of three figures for each arbitration eligible player this year, although players are credited with a pro rated full season according to the agreement reached between players and owners last March. The highest figure represents counting stats prorated up to a 162 game schedule, while the lowest numbers give players only less credit due to the shortened season. The difference is often significant, but settlement figures are coming in much closer to the higher end of the range.
Salary figures shown below for the 2020 season are based on a full season, although players were paid just 37 percent of that amount, pro rated.
Michael Fulmer, who was the first Tiger to have his case go to an arbitration hearing in 15 seasons just two years ago, lost his case and received $2.8 million in 2019. He earned the same salary in 2020 before pro rating. He gets a modest increase in 2021 after losing the 2019 season to Tommy John surgery, and struggling in his first season back last summer. The Tigers and Fulmer are hoping for a full recovery this summer for the former rookie pitcher of the year. His forecast range was from $2.8 to $3.2 million.
Buck Farmer, who has been one of the most reliable arms in the Tigers’ bullpen the past few seasons, settled for a $1.85 million salary in his second season of eligibility. That’s an increase from his 2020 salary of $1.15 million. He was forecast in a range of $1.4 to $1.9 million. With just over four seasons of accrued service time, he will be eligible for free agency after the 2022 season.
Niko Goodrum, who lost the starting job at shortstop during the season, settled for $2.1 million, closer to the middle of his projected range of $1.6 to $2.5 million. He earned under $700,000, prorated in 2020. He has two seasons of arbitration eligibility remaining.
Daniel Norris, who is the only player in his final season of arbitration, settled with the club for $3.475 million for the 2021 season. After making just one start in 2020 and the rest of his work out of the bullpen, Norris posted solid numbers in a reduced role, which he figures to carry into the 2021 season. His projections ranged from $3.0 to $3.4 million but settled for a figure just above that range. He earned $2.925 million in 2020.
Joe Jimenez lost his closer’s role during the 2020 season, and watched his performance nose dive as his ERA skyrocketed to 7.15, as he posted -0.5 negative fWAR for the short season. He has been passed on the depth chart by several other pitchers, but he still managed to settle for $1.5 million, an increase from his $585,000 salary in 2020. The former all-star and “closer of the future” will be well worth his salary if he can regain his form. His projected range was from $1.0 to $1.7 million.
Jose Cisnero led all Detroit relief pitchers with an fWAR of 08, posting a 3.03 ERA/ 2.65 FIP, and striking out 10.3 batters per nine innings. He was rewarded with a salary of 970,000 after earning near the major league minimum in 2019. His projected range was $900K to $1.3 million.
Jacoby Jones was eligible for arbitration for the second time, with a projected range of $2.2 to $2.8 million. He is a starting outfielder when healthy, but therein lies the problem. He settled for a salary of $2.65 million for the 2021 season after earning $1.1 million in 2020. He will be eligible two more times before reaching free agency after the 2023 season.
Matthew Boyd is set to become the Tigers’ second highest paid player, at least temporarily, settling for $6.5 million for the 2021 season. After earning all star honors and 2019 and a bump to a $5.5 million salary last summer, he posted one of the most disappointing seasons of any Tiger in 2020, with a 6.71 ERA and declining peripherals. He was projected to receive a salary of $5.5 to $7.8 million for the 2021 season.
Jeimer Candelario had a breakout season in 2020, being named Tiger of the year, just in time for his first run through the arbitration process. He was forecast a range of $1.7 to $3.3 million, and settled for a salary of $2.8 million, a bargain for his production.
The Tigers tendered contracts to all of their arbitration eligible players as required by December 2nd, and have now settled on one year contracts with each of them, avoiding any arbitration hearings for another season.
The club is on target for a payroll of around $74 million if they fill out the roster with players in the system earning close to the major league minimum, although they are reported to be looking for a catcher and possibly another outfielder.
According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, just 13 players around the major leagues did not reach contract agreements with their clubs, and could be headed to an arbitration hearing which would be held in early February, before players report to spring training. If no agreement is reached, the panel of three professional arbiters will choose one figure or the other, and that will be the player’s salary for the 2021 season.