Originally written on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 11/20/14
Due to the Detroit Tigers’ spendthrift habits of late on the free agent market it seems as though they are at a crossroads with budding star Austin Jackson. In my opinion, it is time to extend Jackson on a long-term deal before the price tag gets too high. Recent players to get such deals include the Cardinals’ Allen Craig and Chicago’s Chris Sale. As for Jackson, he recently graduated from a league minimum player into the first of his three arbitration-eligible years. AJ will get $3.5M to patrol Comerica Park’s center field and bat leadoff for Jim Leyland this summer. As it stands now, Jackson has two more arbitration years coming his way before he enters free agency prior to the 2016 season. At that time he’ll be entering his age-29 season, and when you consider his career trajectory to this point, he could be seeking mega dollars. Austin Jackson It would behoove the Tigers to buy out the last two years of his arbitration rights on a deal similar to what Craig and Sale were given. Craig, 28, received a 5-year, $31M deal from the Cardinals with a $13M club option for 2018. From the White Sox, the soon-to-be 24-year old Sale gets three guaranteed years at $35M with two club options that could total $25M. What concerns me is that perhaps the Tigers’ payroll, which has ballooned to an all-time high of $160M for the coming season, might prohibit such extensions. Had the Tigers known that Rick Porcello’s stock would be this hot prior to signing Anibal Sanchez you can be sure they would have gladly let Sanchez walk, saved $80M, and have been better equipped to lock up Jackson. Instead, Detroit is about to start walking a fine line with Jackson who hit .300 a year ago with career highs in almost every major offensive category. If they don’t extend him and he gets to free agency in 2016, smack dab in the middle of his prime, then all bets are off as to him remaining a Tiger. The advantages to locking him up on say a 5-year, $40M deal are several. Detroit has Nick Castellanos, Avisail Garcia, Steven Moya, Austin Schotts, and potentially Daniel Fields all playing outfield and moving aggressively through the farm system. During such a 5-year deal, and when the timing is right for someone to step into a regular role, the Tigers would have dynamite trade bait in Jackson or Andy Dirks. Should none of the prospects prove ready then the team is set in stone through 2017 with a true game-changing, 2-way player. With Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera’s free agency set to hit the books in 2015 and 2016 respectively, holding onto Jackson for $8M/year makes keeping the franchise’s two cornerstones in place for the duration of their careers much more feasible, which is something the organization will feel a lot of pressure to make happen. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, it sets a trend as an organization. Detroit is finally becoming a team that is developing a fair amount of young talent. Tampa Bay has turned these early, long-term, arbitration-buyout contracts into an art form. Detroit would be wise to do the same. At some point in the next several years players like Drew Smyly, Alex Avila, Doug Fister, Castellanos, Garcia, and others would be in line for similar extensions. It’s a way of keeping your young players happy, guaranteeing them the millions they’ve been seeking for years, and suppressing inevitable team payroll problems. This has to be the wave of the Tigers’ future spending and Jackson is the perfect guy to start with. To receive an email each time a new Tigers article is published, fill out the Email Notification Form [Follow me on Twitter @isportsJoe]
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Athletics trade Derek Norris to Padres

Dodgers not happy with Padres GM over Matt Kemp trade

Mario Balotelli banned match for offensive Instagram post

Marc Trestman: Benching Jay Cutler could revive QB's career

Rob Gronkowski jokes about Tom Brady saying he's grown up

Rajon Rondo traded to Mavs for three players, picks

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Washington Post has perfect description for Titans-Jaguars

Wilbon angry at DC for not supporting Wizards

Urban Meyer says Tim Tebow still wants to play in the NFL

Keenan Lewis: Saints preparing 'funeral' for Falcons

Chris Christie defends being a Cowboys fan

Celtics co-owner: 2024 Olympics would be 'boon for Beantown'

Extremely rare set of Air Jordan 7s selling for $45,000

Five reasons why Alabama will win College Football Playoff

Hugh Freeze proud of Ole Miss’ record 2.57 team GPA

Youngstown St. addresses Bo Pelini's profanity-laced rant

It's been almost 40 years since NFL's last untelevised game

The NHL has finally fined a player for diving

Ben Roethlisberger: Le’Veon Bell is having an MVP season

Jim Harbaugh comments on the reported offer from Michigan

Michael Jordan's college Converse shoes sell for $33,387

Week 16 NFL game watchability rankings

Game of the week: Indianapolis Colts vs. Dallas Cowboys

The Chicago Bears are the Monstrosity of the Midway

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Gronk jokes about Brady compliment

In Matt Kemp, did the Dodgers find a pigeon in Padres?

Why the Saints are legit playoff threat

Impact of U.S.-Cuba relations on MLB

Andrew Hawkins, other athletes gain support for social statement attire

NBA's most underrated players

Michael Vick nearly debt-free

Dolphins CB rips Brady's career plans

Biggest winners of the MLB offseason

Brian Billick owns Browns fan

Pelini has profane words for Nebraska AD

When bowl results mean more for one school than another

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.