January 18th, 2013

Tigers arbitration roundup: Avila, Fister, Jackson, Porcello, Boesch, Coke signed

Friday afternoon was the deadline for teams and arbitration-eligible players to exchange salary numbers, which usually makes it a good artificial deadline for the two sides to settle. It doesn’t mean that the two sides can’t keep negotiating after that; in fact, sometimes having numbers in front of them helps to define a middle ground and find a number for compromise. It’s just a lot more hassle, and more risk that a player might be so put off by a low number that they want to see a case through, so teams prefer to get deals done now.

With that in mind, six of the seven arbitration-eligible Tigers have agreed to terms:

  • Alex Avila and the Tigers have agreed on a one-year, $2.95 million deal to avoid arbitration, a source confirmed. He was eligible for arbitration for the first time.
  • Doug Fister, also a first-time arbitration eligible, settled with the Tigers for a one-year, $4 million deal, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
  • Austin Jackson, also eligible for arbitration for the first time in his promising career, agreed to a one-year contract worth $3.5 million. A source confirmed Heyman’s original report.
  • Rick Porcello, who was up for arbitration for the second time, has agreed to terms on a one-year, $5.1 million deal, first reported by MLB Trade Rumors. That’s a big move for the Tigers, whether they trade Porcello or keep him. Porcello could’ve made things tougher on the club if he wanted.
  • Brennan Boesch will make $2.3 million on a one-year contract, MLB.com has learned.
  • Phil Coke, who was eligible for arbitration for the second time, will make $1.85 million, up from $1.1 million last year.

That leaves Max Scherzer as the only arbitration case left. They exchanged numbers today — the Tigers offering $6.05 million, Scherzer asking for $7.4 million, according to Heyman.

If you’re keeping track of what this means for the Tigers payroll, the signings so far add up to $19.65 million, compared with the $6.22 million they combined to make last year. Thus, the payroll bump is about $13.43 million, pending Scherzer. If the Tigers and Scherzer settle around the midpoint between their submitted offers, the total payroll bump from arbitration cases will work out to around $16.4 million.

Like Jackson and Boesch, Scherzer is a Scott Boras client, though that doesn’t make an arbitration case any more likely than with another agent. In fact, the Tigers have had pretty good success settling cases with Boras’ clients before going to arbitration. It’s the long-term deals to avoid free agency that are trickier, since Boras usually recommends that players test the open market.