Tigers re-sign Inge to two-year deal
The Tigers took care of their first piece of offseason business Thursday by signing third baseman Brandon Inge to a two-year contract with a club option with 2013, keeping the longest-tenured current Tiger in the Old English D. Financial terms were not disclosed.
The signing completes negotiations that began before the season even ended, a relative rarity for the Tigers. But with the potential additions the Tigers stand to make this winter, they wanted to quickly move on keeping their defensive stalwart at the hot corner before he could hit the open market.
The 33-year-old was eligible for free agency this winter, having just finished a four-year, $24 million contract he signed after the Tigers’ trip to the World Series in 2006. The Tigers have been through plenty of change since, including a brief positional move for Inge a couple years ago, but his defense at third has become one of the constants.
Inge batted .247 this year with 28 doubles, 13 home runs and 70 RBIs in 144 games, having missed two weeks to a fractured hand, but his strength has been his range at third. He ranked third among AL third basemen in range factor and total chances, though his zone rating ranked more towards the middle of the pack.
The total package was something the Tigers wanted to continue, especially given their desire to retain Jhonny Peralta at shortstop for next year and look for offensive moves at other spots.
“I think with Brandon, you have to know what you have in a player,” team president/general manager Dombrowski said at season’s end. “First of all, he’s an outstanding defensive third baseman. We all know he’s a gamer. He gives you everything he can. He represents what you want on the field. He never leaves an ounce of anything behind that’s out there.
“He gives you some offense. I don’t think you write down Brandon Inge as coming out and hitting 25 home runs and knocking in 100 runs all of a sudden. I think you have to look at the numbers he’s put up and figure that’s probably the type of hitter you have. If he gives you more, that’s great.”
Inge has long expressed his desire to stay in Detroit, but he also wanted multi-year security. He was seeking a three-year deal at one point and had a two-year offer from the Tigers at season’s end, but the third-year option proved to bridge the gap.
“This is where I want to play, as long as they’ll let me,” Inge said at season’s end. “A multi-year [deal], I feel like they’re showing me a little respect. And it’s another thing where everyone’s comfortable with everyone, meaning myself and the organization.
“They know what they’re going to get. I’m going to go out there and play as hard as I can, rain or shine, whether I’m injured or not. And I think it maybe eases their mind a little bit.”
Inge has been in the Tigers organization his entire career, from draft day until now. He made his Major League debut in 2001, and is one of just two players left in town who were around from Detroit’s 119-loss season in 2003 to its World Series trip three years ago. Ramon Santiago is the other, but he was traded out of the organization and came back.
Inge made Michigan his full-time home this year, making him the only Tiger who lives in the area year-round. It appears he’ll be able to commute to work for at least the next couple years.