Last week, I talked about my confusion regarding the direction, or lack of, that the Tigers are taking. Well, I’m still thinking about it and I think one of the big missing pieces is how the Tigers are going to look after the 2010 season and not before. If I take a look at the the Tigers coming off of the payroll after 2010 (thanks to Cot’s Baseball Contracts), it’s safe to say that the 2011 Tigers are going to be a much different team then what we’ve seen the past couple of years. Here are the contracts that end:
1) Magglio Ordonez $15 million? – I put a question mark here because the Tigers have an option that vests, much like last season, if he gets 540 plate appearances (or 135 starts) in 2010 or a combined 1080 plate appearances or 270 starts combined in 2009 and 2010. The Tigers let this option kick in for 2010 and I don’t see it happening again. I think the team’s announcement that Ryan Raburn will be playing most everyday in the outfield is going to be the Tigers insurance policy because my bet is he’ll be spelling Ordonez more then the other two outfield positions. Of course Ordonez could call the Tigers hand if he comes anywhere close to his 2008 (or even better, 2007).
2) Jeremy Bonderman $12.5 million – Nothing like a little pressure, but Bonderman’s fate could be decided in 2010. He’s been penciled in as the fourth starter and if he performs, I can see the Tigers signing him again but unless he’s lights out, he’s not going to be making the $12.5 he made in 2009 and that he’ll make in 2010.
3) Dontrelle Willis $12 million – I’m not going to touch this one. Willis has already begun talking about how his anxiety disorder was misdiaganosed. He’ll get a look in spring training but I think the Tigers cut him loose before the 2010 season just so the Tigers aren’t tempted to ride the D-Train one last time. It’s too bad because everything I’ve heard is that Willis is a top notch guy, he just lost his game.
4) Nate Robertson $10 million – My bet is Robertson comes out of spring training as the fifth starter just so the Tigers can use him as trade bait. Robertson’s been one of the guys I’ve liked (being a southpaw myself) but he just hasn’t gotten it done the past couple of years. If he’s back with the Tigers in 2011, it’ll be at a much lower price then what he’s made the past couple of years.
5) Brandon Inge $6.6 million – If he plays like he played in the first half last year, he might make more money but I don’t see it happening especially with Inge coming off an injury. Maybe the Tigers will try getting Larish a full season at Triple A at third base so he can play everday their in 2011. Third base would also be a spot the Tigers could fill in the off-season next year.
6) Gerald Laird $3.95 million – A lot depends on how Al Avila develops. With the trade rumors surrounding Laird around the winter meetings, I don’t see him in a Tiger uniform next year.
7) Bobby Seay $2.475 million – The Tigers have some arms coming up in the system so Seay could be gone as well.
8) Adam Everett $1.55 million – Gustavo Nunez’s development this year will determine what happens with Everett. A resurgance by Cale Iorg could also push Everett out of town.
There’s a few more guys (like Zach Miner and Joel Zumaya) but they make less then a million. So if the Tigers clean the slate, they’ll have close to $65 million coming off of the payroll after 2010. Some of that money is going to go towards Verlander’s long term deal (yes, I’m optimistic) and that will also free up some money for Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello, who should also anchor the Tigers rotation for years to come. It just probably means we’ll be throwing away (as in, we’ll do just enough to contend in a weak AL Central but little else) 2010 and potentially 2011 to get to where we need to be. Of course the Tigers may not be done and that could fill in some blanks so as always, we’ll see.