Four Tigers file for arbitration
The Tigers have not faced a salary arbitration ruling since Dave Dombrowski took over as team president/general manager in 2002. That streak is about to be put to the test once again.
All four Tigers who are eligible for arbitration — David Price, J.D. Martinez, Alfredo Simon and Al Alburquerque — officially filed by Tuesday’s deadline. It’s essentially a formality, though the Tigers have reached agreements with players on filing day in past years.
The bigger deadline in recent years has been the date for exchanging salary proposals. That comes up on Friday, and the numbers have fostered a middle ground for deals in past years. If not, arbitration hearings would take place Feb. 1-21.
The biggest case by far is Price, who made $14 million last season as a third-time arbitration eligible. He’s up for a fourth turn through arbitration because he qualified as a super-2 player in 2012, and his salary could potentially set a record for an arbitration-eligible player prior to free agency.
Simon, too, is an interesting case. He’s a third-time arbitration eligible, also a year away from free agency, and he’s coming off a 15-win season in his first year as a full-time starter. The 33-year-old made $1.5 million last year with the Reds, but that case was built on his track record as a reliever. He could conceivably go back to relief if the Tigers re-sign Max Scherzer, but his arbitration salary will be determined based on his season as a starter.
Alburquerque is eligible for a second time, having avoided arbitration with an $837,500 deal on numbers day a year ago. He posted a vast improvement in ERA (from 4.59 in 2013 to 2.51 last year), innings pitched (49 to 57.1), appearances (53 to a career-high 72) and WHIP (1.49 to 1.169).
Martinez, too, will be an interesting case as a first-time eligible. His 2014 numbers — .315 average, .912 OPS, 30 doubles, 23 home runs and 76 RBIs in 123 games — helped him post a 4.2 WAR after a negative-1.2 combined over his previous three Major League seasons. First-time eligibles are supposed to be evaluated on their career to date, but 2014 will obviously be the overriding factor.