The Detroit Tigers are not expected to tender a contract to starting pitcher Matthew Boyd before the deadline of 5 p.m. Eastern time on November 30, meaning that team’s opening day starter in each of the past two seasons will become a free agent. Chris McCoskey of the Detroit news tweeted what many observers have been expecting.
Boyd is projected to earn over $7 million should he go to arbitration with the team, and tendering a contract would set the two sides on an arbitration course. Having had surgery to repair the flexor tendon in his throwing arm, he will miss much of the 2022 season and his return date is uncertain, although he expects to pitch some time in 2022. The cost and the uncertainty are just too much for the team to risk heading into a winter of uncertainty.
A one year contract for just the 2022 season is impractical under the circumstances, particularly since Boyd will become a free agent after the 2022 season if he accrues just 36 days more service time in the major leagues. The club may have tried to work out a contract that was not so expensive under the circumstances, or perhaps a multi year deal that made sense for both sides. That was not to be.
What Boyd and his agent, Scott Boras, would like more than anything is a major league contract that would ensure that he becomes eligible for free agency a year from now. If he does not land a major league contract prior to the season, he may be able to do so after rehabilitation gets him ready to pitch, where he can rebuild his value. He may even get that opportunity with Detroit, if the price is right.
The popular left hander made 15 starts for Detroit during the 2021 season before going on the injured list, posting what would have been a career best 3.85 ERA in 81 innings of work. For his five plus seasons with the Tigers, he has a career ERA of 4.96, an FIP of 4.69 with 8.79 strikeouts, 2.69 walks, and 1.63 home runs per nine innings. That home run ratio has been his achilles heel, and bringing it down to 1.03 was a key to his improvement last summer before surgery ended his season.
Boyd came to the Tigers along with pitchers Daniel Norris and Jairo Labourt in the deal that sent David Price to Toronto. He is a former sixth round selection of the Blue Jays in the 2013 amateur draft.
Other Tigers who are eligible for arbitration include:
Catchers Grayson Greiner and Dustin Garneau
Pitchers Joe Jimenez, Michael Fulmer, Spencer Turnbull, Bryan Garcia, and Rony Garcia
Infielders Jeimer Candelario and Harold Castro
Outfielder Victor Reyes
Major League Baseball owners and players agreed to advance the deadline for teams to tender contracts to arbitration eligible players from December 2nd to November 30, so that players and teams would not be in limbo during what could be an extended work stoppage, if owners lockout the players on December 1st as expected.