Dave Dombrowski doesn’t go to arbitration. He just doesn’t. On Friday the Tigers came to terms with five players ahead of the arbitration filing deadline, leaving only Alex Avila without a settlement. Scherzer, Porcello, Jackson, Dirks, and Alburquerque all inked deals to avoid going to an actual hearing.
The Scherzer deal is the headline story, as the Tigers put a $15.5 million bow on his first six years of service. The Tigers will talk extension with Max, but if something doesn’t happen soon he’ll likely dip his toe in the free agent market and think about topping the Zack Greinke deal from a season ago. With Kershaw locked up for at least five years, Scherzer will be the best pitcher on next year’s market and that should make him an embarrassingly rich man. Earlier this offseason, I suggested the Tigers ride out his final year and let him walk. So far, that’s what’s happening.
Porcello will make $8.5 million in 2014 in his third arbitration season, but he has one more coming thanks to his Super Two status. We’re big Porcello fans at New English D and have been banging the extension drum loudly for Porcello all season long. A five year, $60 million sounds reasonable, yet too good for Porcello to ignore, even if Jon Heyman is completely clueless about what good starting pitching costs these days.
Jackson grabbed $6 million in his second arbitration season and is another guy who might be worth locking up long term, especially coming off a year that was a step back from 2012. Lock him in before he has another great year and you’ll be pleased that you did. Dirks ($1.625M) and Alburquerque ($837,500) were first timers and were paid as such.
The interesting case is Avila for a couple of reasons. First, the Tigers haven’t been to an arbitration hearing during Dombrowski’s tenure and they are reasonably close to one with the Assistant GM’s son. That’s fun! But also, they are pretty far apart ($3.25M and $5.35M). If the Tigers actually take this to trial, they’ll probably win, but it should be worth it to them to add a little on to their offer and avoid the headache. Avila is a very solid defender with the ability to be great at the dish, but his early 2013 struggles will certainly depress the dollar amount for which he can ask. He hit well down the stretch and I like him to contribute in 2014, but combine his health issues with some inconsistency at the plate and $5.35 million just isn’t happening.
After these settlements, the Tigers are right around $140 million before getting to Avila and the league minimum players. Last year, they had a payroll of $148 million, so the 2014 version figures to be their highest payroll yet. Hey, at least there was sort of real baseball news today!