As the disappointment of the Detroit Tigers conclusion to the 2012 season sets in, it’s time to shift focus to next year. GM Dave Dombrowski has already made several major announcements. Among them:
Jim Leyland and his entire coaching staff (including co-hitting coaches Toby Harrah and Lloyd McClendon) will all be back.
Jhonny Peralta’s $6M option for 2013 has been picked up. Barring a creative offseason trade, he will be the starting shortstop again next year.
Detroit also picked up the option for Octavio Dotel. His contract is valued at $3.5M for next year. Arguably, Dotel was Detroit’s most consistent reliever in 2012.
This helps clear up a few things heading into the offseason, but none of these moves were particularly unexpected.
Bye, bye Delmon Young. And thanks for the memories.
Several players are no longer under contract, which will temporarily relieve (pending arbitration raises) some of the $133M payroll the Tigers forked out in 2012. Jose Valverde and his $9M contract will be quietly escorted out of town. Delmon Young, a virtual steal at $6.75M, will test free agent waters and not return due simply to lack of available space as Victor Martinez will occupy the DH role. The $5.5M the Tigers paid for Brandon Inge’s services also come off the board. Gerald Laird becomes an unrestricted free agent as well but is someone the Tigers will consider re-signing for another 1-year deal. If they don’t bring Laird back, then you can expect Bryan Holaday to be the backup catcher next year.
Most of the core of the Tigers’ roster remain completely under team control. The following players are arbitration eligible this offseason:
Max Scherzer – he will get a substantial raise from $3.75M. Probably in the $6-9M range.
Doug Fister – welcome to being a millionaire Doug! He made $575K last year. He’ll likely get $4-7M in arbitration.
Rick Porcello – he made $3.1M this year and will get a bump to around $5M.
Phil Coke – he’ll get a slight raise from the $1.1M he made in 2012.
Alex Avila – he pulled in $510K and will join the millionaire club along with Fister. Probably between $1.5-2M.
Don Kelly made $900K this year and is arbitration eligible. The Tigers have made the decision to remove him from the 40-man roster. His bat vanished in 2012. Not a good sign for a bench player. Hopefully he catches on somewhere else.
Brennan Boesch – he made $502,500 in ’12 and is another player Detroit had to ponder. But the Tigers will tender him a contract this offseason. He’s still cheap, young, and loaded with potential. If Detroit can bring him back mentally, he could be a huge asset in 2013. To me, he has too much upside at this point to sell while his value is at its lowest point, and Detroit recognizes that.
Austin Jackson – Jackson made $500K last year and isn’t due for just arbitration, he’s due for a long-term contract. The Tigers need to lock him up with something resembling a 5-year, $40M contract.
Ryan Raburn – his 2-year deal has expired, making him arbitration eligible. The Tigers will have to think long and hard about using up a roster spot with him again next year. Bet on that not happening.
Among other things at Dombrowski’s presser today, he indicated that they would love to re-sign Anibal Sanchez. He is going to be a hot commodity on the free agent market but clearly fit in well with the team after joining up in late July. It went so well in fact that he might settle for a few less pennies to stay in Detroit. If Sanchez does go elsewhere, the Tigers will most likely fill the rotation in the same way that they did to start 2012 with Drew Smyly as the 5th starter.
Dombrowski also mentioned minor league reliever Bruce Rondon as a likely member of the 2013 bullpen. He may end up as the closer sooner than you think. Maybe even Opening Day.
On the injury front, Omar Infante will be off from baseball activities for 4-6 weeks but will be ready for spring training. Alex Avila’s arm also checks out fine. After some rest, he should be ready to roll as well and hopefully improve on a disappointing 2012 season. Victor Martinez should also be fully healed for spring camp. There are no other injury issues of note.