While the midnight deadline that a lot of team’s face to offer arbitration to their free agents doesn’t affect the Tigers, they do have five guys who the Tigers have yet to sign and are automatically eligible for arbitration. As Jason Beck explains, Dave Dombrowski hasn’t let a single player go to the arbitration table and my guess is that the same happens this year.
The biggest name on that list is Nate Robertson, who will be the Tigers fourth strarter next year. He looked like he was set to breakout with an impressive April this past season but then he fell apart and while he had his share of nice starts, he also had his share of poor ones. He eventually found his way onto the disabled list and while he started putting it together in the second half, he still finished with a less then stellar 9-13 record.
Marcus Thames is next on the priority list and we’ll see him platoon with Jacque Jones in left field. Thames is the guy who, if used correctly, can be extremely productive. Thames has a career .512 slugging percentage against left handed pitchers and that’s how he’ll mostly be used.
Tim Byrdak, Chad Durbin and Bobby Seay are the other three guys and while all three are fringe players, they should all be in the bullpen this year. Durbin might even get a shot at the fifth spot in the rotation.
My guess is, Robertson gets a three year deal while the other four all sign for one year. Robertson is in his last year of arbitration so if they don’t lock him up now, he could himself on the open market after the 2008 season.