As we tune up for baseball’s other season, let’s review what the Tigers are working with this year.
– Guillen and his $13M will not be back. Though Guillen and Maggs seemingly want to play again in 2012.
– Ordonez and his $10M will not be back. Well, not for more than $5M (I would desperately hope). The Tigers have made no indication of any intent to resign him.
– Penny and his $3M will not be back.
That clears out $26M. Good start.
Zumaya and Santiago are also free agents at $1.4M and $1.35M, respectively. Even a non-2006 Zumaya would have been a welcome addition in the ALCS, but his persistent injury problems will leave him off the Tigers roster. If he doesn’t get another offer elsewhere, and pitches brilliantly and pain-free in Spring Training, I think the Tigers will find a spot for him, however foolish such a decision may be. It looks as if the Tigers would like to re-sign Santiago, but it is contingent on what other offers he may get. Santiago is a superb utility guy and was the only 2B mainstay for the club last year. But over his career he’s shown that he can be overused, and the Tigers will have to wait and see whether another team is willing to give him a chance as a full time player.
Based on the above, it looks as if the Tigers would have plenty of money to spend in 2012. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Verlander’s salary jumps up from $13M to $20M, and the Tigers owe $9M in deferred salary (including $2M to Pudge Rodriguez, and $1.5M to Gary Sheffield…remember him?). Further, Scherzer, Young, Coke and Kelly are all arb eligible, which means that they’ll make a good deal more this season than they made in 2011. Conservatively, if each of those guys make $3M next year, that puts payroll at $94M (I’m using Cots) that puts the roster at 14, which means that the Tigers will have 11 players to go. A lot of these guys are still under their rookie contracts (Boesch, Perry, Avila, Schlereth, Al Al etc.) so they won’t be too expensive, but unless Illitch plans to spend significantly more next year, don’t expect any big off-season splashes.