Detroit Tigers avoid arbitration with all nine eligible players

Detroit Free Press

Evan Petzold
 
| Detroit Free Press

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The Detroit Tigers have agreed to terms with all nine arbitration-eligible players.

The one-year contracts signed: left-handed starter Matthew Boyd ($6.5 million), third baseman Jeimer Candelario ($2.85 million), righty reliever Jose Cisnero ($970,000), righty reliever Buck Farmer ($1.8 million), right-handed starter Michael Fulmer ($3.1 million), shortstop Niko Goodrum ($2.1 million), righty reliever Joe Jimenez ($1.5 million), outfielder JaCoby Jones ($2.65 million) and lefty pitcher Daniel Norris ($3.475 million), according to multiple people with knowledge of the situation.

Everyone received pay raises from last season: In 2020 (before proration for the 60-game season), Farmer made $1.15 million; Fulmer, $2.8 million; Goodrum, $698,200; Jimenez, $584,900; Norris, $2.96 million; Boyd, $5.3 million; Candelario, $583,300; Jones, $1.575 million; and Cisnero, $571,200.

Teams and arbitration-eligible players were required to exchange salary figures by 1 p.m. Friday.

Had the nine players not agreed with the Tigers by early February, the two sides would have entered an arbitration hearing. There, a panel of arbitrators selects a one-year deal — either the player’s submitted salary or the team’s offer, with no option in between.

The Tigers, however, won’t have to worry about that. Two years ago, Fulmer was the first and last player to take the franchise to an arbitration hearing since Chris Holt in 2001.

On Tuesday, Fulmer became the first of the nine players to ink a deal for 2021. The 27-year-old returned from Tommy John surgery in 2020, pitching in a big-league game for the first time in 22 months. He ended with an 8.78 ERA, 2.060 WHIP, 20 strikeouts and 12 walks in 27⅔ innings. Last year, Fulmer and the Tigers went to arbitration (with Fulmer losing his case)  the Tigers’ first arbitration hearing since 2001.

“This is the first year we actually got it done before the deadline day,” Fulmer said Thursday. “I’m really happy that it’s off our plate. I was never really worried about it anyway. I’m a guy who wants to go out and prove myself with the numbers and let my pitching speak for itself. This year was a little different, obviously, but we’re going to keep working on it.”

Boyd, 29, went 3-7 with a 6.71 ERA and 1.475 WHIP in 12 starts last season. He accumulated 60 strikeouts and 22 walks in 60⅓ innings, allowing an MLB-worst 15 home runs and 45 earned runs. 

Norris, who was acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays with Boyd in 2015 for lefty David Price, posted a 3.25 ERA in 14 appearances (one start). The 27-year-old struck out 28 and only issued seven walks in 27⅔ innings. He had a 2.77 ERA out of the bullpen.

Farmer, 29, had a 3.80 ERA and 14 strikeouts in 21⅓ innings as the primary set-up man. Cisnero, 31, registered a 3.03 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 29⅔ innings.

Jimenez, 25, entered 2020 as the closer but lost that job in August. He had a 7.15 ERA, accompanied by 22 strikeouts, six walks and seven home runs allowed in 22⅔ innings. He was an All-Star in 2018.

On the offensive side, Candelario was named Tiger of the Year for 2020 with a .297 batting average, seven homers and 29 RBIs. The 27-year-old played in 52 games, chipping in 11 doubles and three triples after producing only 27 extra-base hits in 94 games in 2019. 

Jones, 28, was limited to 30 games because of a broken left hand in early September. Still, he hit .268 with five home runs, 14 RBIs, seven walks and 34 strikeouts.

Goodrum projects for a super-utility role in 2021. He was a Gold Glove finalist at shortstop last season but struggled at the plate. The 28-year-old hit .184 with five homers and 20 RBIs in 43 games, with 69 strikeouts and 18 walks in 179 plate appearances.

Evan Petzold is a sports reporter at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold.

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