Arbitrary Arbiters

The reaching of contract agreements with 5 of 6 arbitration-eligible players is pretty big news, worthy of a post, I’d say. So here it is. All 6 are important pieces of the 2014 puzzle, and even if the agreements are no real surprise, given Dave Dombrowski’s track record with Detroit as far as arbitration goes, it’s still good news. The real surprise is that it’s not 6 of 6 already.

One-year deals with Max Scherzer ($15.525M), Rick Porcello ($8.1M), Austin Jackson ($6M), Andy Dirks ($1.625M), and Al Alburquerque ($0.8375M). Objections?

The lone holdout is Alex Avila. It’s hard to see an arbiter going strongly in one direction or the other between $5.35M and $3.75M, and thus it’s hard to see the two sides not meeting rather squarely in the middle well before this goes to a hearing. Don’t you think? The only reason the Tigers brass would play hardball is if they had some kind of Plan B at catcher… right now. That’s how I see it, and I would have to do some serious research to come up with a Plan B that made sense to me.

In other recent news, the revelation of Justin Verlander’s “core muscle” surgery casts another long shadow over the 2014 season, the other one being that of Miguel Cabrera’s surgery last November October. Yes, Cabrera is supposed to be good to go come Spring Training, and Verlander the same by the end of February. Do you have your doubts about whether it’s going to be that simple? I do. Well, I have my doubts, not your doubts, but they might be the same doubts.

Evidently, there are big changes in store for 2014 with new MLB rules for challenges of calls and replays having been approved.

25 days until pitchers and catchers report (February 13). Full squad to report February 17, and the first games of Spring Training (Florida Southern, Atlanta Braves) are just over 5 weeks away now. First the offseason dragged on and on, and now it seems like it went by in a blur. I suppose there’s some left. What will happen? Surprise trades or signings? More injuries? Just the usual trickle of minor league deals? If I had to guess at one possible bombshell… I couldn’t. They’ll just have to surprise me.

Enquiring minds, etc.. Maybe she’s cuter in a swimsuit, eh?*

A recent article by Lynn Henning suggests without explanation that Hernan Perez starting the season in Toledo is a foregone conclusion. Do we agree? I had him on the team already, but actually, that might have been premature and not quite sensible. I was thinking, OK, gotta have the two infielders on the bench, so it’s Steve Lombardozzi and Perez, right? But there’s the Donkey to consider, the IF-OF to end all IF-OFs. Why am I so quick to write him off? (Maybe because I’m tired of shallow pop flares to LF?)

The Avila photo above is public domain, by the way. Or so I’m told. I was wondering, as others have before me: Maybe some Friend or Friends of DTW who actually attend the occasional game or seven would care to contribute some player photos and other ballpark scenes this season that we could use here without guilt? I don’t foresee any notices from lawyers or anything about snatching the occasional photo off the interwebs, but still. That would be both cool and absolutely legal (and ethical). Speak up! (And thank you in advance.)

25 days. Or 29 days. Or 37 days. However you see it… LET’S GO!

*Even so, a new DTW bylaw just passed requires that all posts shall henceforth be required to include at least one Kate Upton link containing at least 14 photos of Kate Upton. Even if we are just friends.

32 thoughts on “Arbitrary Arbiters”

    1. Was that a heads up?

      Did the Royals reach this decision by flipping a coin?

      Are they hedging their bets against the starting rotation going into a tailspin?

  1. Everybody who thinks Avila deserves a $2.4M raise (80%) after last season’s performance raise their hand. Waiting, waiting, waiting…

    Plan B (x your fingers) is McCann in ’15. That is if there is any plan after this year. 2015 sees big changes as the team gets blown up – DD to Commish, Tigers get put up for sale, Scherzer, Cabrera not extended, salary dumps etc. as Tigers go into rebuild mold.

    1. Raises aren’t necessarily based on merit, or more accurately the merits of recent past performance, in baseball or anywhere. The going rate, another year under their belt, expectations, etc..

      I am not clear on how arbitration disagreement plays into plans or contingency plans for trading a player. It seems that Avila and the Tigers are literally bound to agree to some terms, voluntarily or not, right? Avila can’t just walk in any case, at least not without forfeiting the salary, and he’s not free to play for another team without the Tigers’ consent, if I understand correctly. So the team’s control amounts to more or less favorable conditions under which to move Avila if they so chose, yes? If such a thing is on their minds, the gamble on a hearing is a gamble that the contract will undervalue him relative to his trade value. That’s my guess.

      1. McCann in ’15 might be the plan, but that wouldn’t dictate moving Avila now. In the unlikely event there’s some thought of trading Avila, Plan B would almost have to be the acquisition of a veteran platoon partner (someone, anyone) for Holaday and a more or less straight platoon at catcher depending on how Holaday performs.

        1. Without doubt Avila will be that 1st string catcher in 2014. There is no plan to move him since who could they get to replace him. Plan B will only take effect in ’15, depending on various circumstances as they play out over the coming season.

          Right now it is about money. There is a huge gap between what the Tigers offered and what Avila countered with. Based on last year’s production it looks like management doesn’t want to go much higher, certainly not to the extent of splitting the difference between the two. So it looks like they will let it go to arb, when it will come down to one or the other. I think Avila has over-priced himself here with his continuing weak numbers and injury history also a big factor. They still may come up with some kind of a compromise, but I can’t believe it will be much over the Team’s initial offer. Avila may just be taking a chance with the “who else they got” ploy, to ask for a lot more than he is worth. Nothing to lose as he is guaranteed a raise anyway. And baseball is a business, right?

          1. Agree, except that $1.6M (more than a career’s earnings when some of us were young baseball fans) isn’t a huge gap. The middle, $4.55M, seems about right for “2013 Avila with potential to be 2011 Avila.” No? I suppose asking for $5.35M is one of way of making sure you get to that reasonable middle.

  2. ya I don’t think Avila should pay the Tigers that extra 2.4 mil……just to play…I am sure daddy can work something out!!!!

  3. By the way, I’ve confused “royalty free” with “public domain.” Maybe I was supposed to pay. I’ll feign ignorance. English is not my native language, and also, I’m legally blind. Photo credit: Richard Lowthian. Nice photo, Richard. Thanks for letting me use it without asking. Yell at me and I’ll take it down.

    Maybe I’ll start drawing players. Hey Coleman, can you draw?

    Regarding the photo, one has to wonder whether Alex actually hit the ball or is getting fooled badly by a changeup.

  4. Did you guys see the expected salaries for our arb guys?

    Based on mlbtraderumors figures, we overpaid by a combined $2.4M for Jackson, Scherzer,

    Dirks (the only one whose rumored salary was more than we paid), Porcello and Al Al. This may be a result of small sample size bias, but I found it interesting nonetheless.

    Also, who passes the rumors to

    1. A lot of their rumors come from beat writers, but I would be shocked if some didn’t come from agents.

      I think “overpaying” is a strategy, not a mistake. The Tigers could probably save a little money by going to arbitration, but arbitration breeds ill will, and Dombrowski has had a consistent strategy of avoiding arbitration, and obviously feels that the money paid over arbitration amounts is a good investment in the long run.

      1. I agree.

        There was an interesting series on MLBTR, an inside look at the arbitration process from players who have been through it. Doesn’t seem fun. Sounds like divorce counseling for couples who would rather stay married.

    1. With 99% of major transactions completed by now, sports writers are reduced to reporting on outlandish rumors (read: made up stuff) and sappy “human interest” stories (including how player X, Y and Z will be coming to camp in the best shape of their career). You can completely ignore what passes for baseball reporting from now until spring training starts and you won’t miss a thing.

      1. Clearly, you are unaware that Tiger players have been serving Coney dogs, and that Justin Verlander was spotted in the Bahamas with a certain model. It’s like the season is in full swing!

    1. Core muscles. Bahamas. Alone with Kate Upton’s, I mean Kate Upton.

      Upon further review, I find it unlikely that Justin Verlander will pitch at all in 2014.

      1. Yeah. 91-71 for best record is a pretty ridiculous hedging of bets. If you’re going to predict, go big or go home. Just ask Nostradamus and his spokespeople, the National Enquirer, et alia.

  5. Just for fun, last year’s Top 10:


    Ortega 16. Kobernus (!) 20. Holaday 24. Putkonen 25. Perez 28.

  6. For Brazilians, not winning the World Cup would be bad enough.

    Even worse would be bitter rival Argentina winning in Brazil where 200 million locals are expecting to celebrate.

    “This would be every Brazilians worst nightmare,” said Newton Cesar Santos, the Brazilian author of a 600-page history of the Brazil-Argentina rivalry Brazil X Argentina- Stories of the Biggest Classic in World Football.

    “Let anybody win, but not Argentina.”

    There are many intense football matchups- The Netherlands vs. Germany and England vs. Scotland. But none rivals Brazil vs. Argentina.

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