The Tigers decided to offer arbitration to relievers Brandon Lyon and Fernando Rodney, but not to take the risk with second baseman Placido Polanco. We didn’t really learn too much by these moves that we weren’t already expecting. If nobody were offered it may have signaled that the Tigers were as poor as everyone speculated. If everyone were offered it would either mean the Tigers weren’t really financially restricted or that Scott Sizemore’s injury wouldn’t allow him to be ready. Instead we’re somewhere in the middle.
The good news with Lyon and Rodney is that the Tigers stand to gain high draft picks if either player is signed by another team. If they accept arbitration the Tigers will have a couple relievers on one year deals for about $5 million apiece. However, Dave Dombrowski doesn’t expect either player to accept but he also didn’t rule out signing either player. With Lyon in particular I could see the team willing to sign him to a 2 year deal.
With Polanco it is one of those tough decisions, but one that is right. Polanco was part of the renaissance of baseball in Detroit and was an easy guy to root for. He played hard, never complained, and was remarkably steady. And while he was probably overrated by many fans for his batting average, he was the guy I felt most comfortable with at the plate in a key situation (yes, I know his career .307 BAISP isn’t appreciably different than his overall .303 BA it is still a pretty good clip and the fact that he’d find a way to put the ball in play made me “feel” better).
But for a change the Tigers actually have a position player prospect poised to take over a position of need in Scott Sizemore. He isn’t being rushed or pushed up for a spark or as an injury replacement. Scouts feel he can hit at the big league level now and his minor league numbers show he can transfer his tools to production.
Now the decision to let Polanco go is different than the decision to offer him arbitration. By not offering him arbitration Polanco will not fetch the team additional draft picks. The lack of a compensation pick also makes Polanco much more attractive to potential suitors. So when he ultimately signs a 2-3 year deal with someone, there will be complaints that the Tigers missed out. The complainers though have to realize that Polanco’s market shrinks with a compensation pick attached and that multi-year offer likely wouldn’t be there.