Chad Durbin’s stint as a Detroit Tiger came to an end today when the club made the decision to not tender him a contract. Durbin, who entered 2007 out of options made the team as a bullpen arm as the team broke spring training. But an injury to Kenny Rogers thrust Durbin into the starting rotation.
Durbin made 19 starts and appeared in 36 games in total. He did a decent job as a swing man, and when he was returned to the bullpen he even was given some critical innings.
But I think Durbin’s fate was sealed on September 11th. The Tigers were coming off their dramatic come from behind victory against the Blue Jays and had a double header against the Rangers as they tried to hang in the playoff race. Durbin started the first game and was rocked for 2 homers, a double, and 3 singles before being lifted in the 3rd inning.
Durbin didn’t make it into another game until September 25th when he pitched the 9th inning of an 8-0 game. That would be his last appearance of the season. It was clear that Durbin lost his manager’s trust during that September 11th game.
When you factor in the bullpen crunch the Tigers have with a number of players out of options (Cruceta, Bazardo) and another pitcher who can fill the same role (Zach Miner), it just didn’t add up for Durbin staying with the team.
The move also means the Tigers have a free spot on their roster.
Tim Byrdak on the other hand was inked to a one year deal. He’ll make $700,000 in 2008 which isn’t a bad price for a decent LOOGY. The question is whether Byrdak will be a decent LOOGY. His career was nondescript until last season and there aren’t a lot of guys who blossom at age 33. But Byrdak did add a new split finger pitch and did fan more than a batter per inning so I think he has a decent chance to be productive.
As for the other guys, they were all tendered contracts which wasn’t a big surprise. Miguel Cabrera, Dontrelle Willis, Bobby Seay, and Nate Robertson weren’t going anywhere. Marcus Thames has been the subject of trade talks, but the Tigers weren’t going to let him go for nothing. By tendering contracts it insures that the Tigers will be paying each of these players in 2008 and Cabrera and Robertson are particularly likely to get long term contracts. I’d suspect that they’d like to lock up Willis, who is fond of the idea, but want to see if he bounces back from a rough 2007 first.
If you’re wondering about the process, the players and teams can continue to negotiate. On January 18th the two sides will exchange figures. Then starting February 1st arbitration hearings will be held. The players and agents talk about how great they are, while the teams talk about all the flaws of the players and why they don’t deserve more money. An awkward situation to be sure, and one that Dombrowski has avoided historically. I’d be stunned if any of these cases made it to the hearing and expect contracts to be hammered out in January.