Four Tigers file for arbitration
All four arbitration-eligible Tigers filed on Tuesday’s deadline, including slugging outfielder J.D. Martinez, shortstop Jose Iglesias, infielder Andrew Romine and newly-acquired lefty reliever Justin Wilson. That’s not a particular surprise, as filings are now procedural.
The more important date comes Friday, when teams and players are scheduled to exchange salary proposals if they haven’t yet settled. Frequently, that date either provides a soft deadline to work out a deal, or provides both sides with numbers to use to find a middle ground.
The Tigers have not gone through an arbitration hearing in 15 years. While former team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski maintained a perfect record of settling cases without a ruling, current GM Al Avila and baseball legal counsel John Westhoff were key cogs in that process as Dombrowski’s top assistants. Now they’re trying to keep the string going.
The Tigers are hoping to sign Martinez, two seasons away from potential free agency, to a long-term deal. The 28-year-old is eligible for arbitration for a second time, having reached a $3 million deal with the Tigers before last year’s filing date. He batted .282 in 2015 with 38 home runs, 102 RBIs and an .879 OPS, vaulting him into the ranks of one of the game’s top power hitters. MLBTradeRumors projects him at $7.8 million.
Iglesias is a first-time arbitration eligible, though he has been making over $1 million a year since 2010 after signing a Major League contract as an amateur free agent out of Cuba. He made $1,443,750 last year on his way to a rebound season, batting .300 (125-for-416) with two home runs and 23 RBIs in 120 games after missing all of 2014 recovering from stress fractures in both shins. Iglesias’ defense, though, was his highlight, literally with acrobatic plays and strong throws with little more than the flick of a wrist. MLBTradeRumors projects him at $1.5 million, slightly more than he made last year.
Romine, Iglesias’ backup for much of last season, is also eligible for arbitration for the first time, having crossed the threshold of three years’ service time in his sixth Major League season. Romine’s second full season in the big leagues saw him hit .255 (47-for-184) with two home runs, 15 RBIs and a .622 OPS. He played five different defensive positions, including starts all around the infield. MLBTradeRumors projects him at $700,000.
Wilson, acquired last month from the Yankees for two prospects, is an interesting first-time case, having been a effective lefty relievers for the better part of three seasons between Pittsburgh and the Bronx. Left-handers have batted .235 (58-for-247) with three home runs, 24 walks and 59 strikeouts against Wilson in his Major League career; right-handers have hit him for just a .205 (100-for-478) average with eight home runs and 134 strikeouts. For first-year arbitration eligibles, the entire career to date factors into cases. MLBTradeRumors projects him at $1.3 million.
Wilson allowed 49 hits over 61 innings last year with 20 walks and 66 strikeouts last year, recording 29 holds against two blown saves.