Detroit — The Tigers on Tuesday night tendered contracts to eight players who are eligible for salary arbitration.
Those players are pitchers Michael Fulmer, Joe Jimenez, Jose Cisnero and Spencer Turnbull, infielders Jeimer Candelario and Harold Castro, outfielder Victor Reyes and catcher Dustin Garneau.
The one player who was not tendered, as reported on Sunday night, was veteran left-hander Matthew Boyd, who after seven seasons in Detroit will be a free agent entering his age-31 season.
Boyd, the Tigers’ Opening Day starter last year, made 145 starts and leaves with the second-best strikeouts-per nine innings rate (8.7) and fourth best strikeout-per-walk rate (3.045) in club history.
According to industry estimates (MLB Trade Rumors), Boyd could’ve been awarded up to $7.3 million in his last year of arbitration. He will be a free agent after the 2022 season. In a normal year, the Tigers wouldn’t have hesitated to tender him an offer.
But he’s coming off flexor tendon surgery and it is uncertain when he will be ready to pitch next season. He plans to begin his throwing program in January with a goal of returning to big-league action in June.
The Tigers, presumably, weren’t convinced he could be ready that quickly. Also, there is a worry that tendon surgery could be a harbinger of a more serious problem in the arm, namely the ligament in the elbow.
Before the surgery, Boyd sought the opinions of several specialists, including Dr. Keith Meister and Dr. Neal Elattrache and both determined that his ulnar collateral ligament was clean.
The Tigers, still leery, did make Boyd a contract offer for 2022, but it was significantly less than Boyd was ready to accept.
The Tigers moved on. They acquired another veteran left-handed starter to anchor their rotation — Eduardo Rodriguez, who they signed for five years and $77 million.
Boyd talked to reporters in September just before he had the surgery with Dr. Meister in Dallas.
“I kind of look at this like the intermission for Act Two of my career,” he said. “To me, it’s exciting. I’m excited to put this behind me and be uninhibited going forward. Everything else will take care of itself.
“When I pick up a baseball next year, they’re going to get the best version of Matthew Boyd, and that’s exciting.”
Here are the salary projections on the eight players the Tigers’ tendered: Candelario ($5.9 million), Fulmer ($5.1 million), Jimenez ($1.8 million), Cisnero ($1.9 million), Turnbull ($1.8 million), Reyes ($1.3 million), Castro ($1.5 million), Garneau ($1.6 million).
The Tigers in recent years have worked out deals with players prior to arbitration. Fulmer, in 2018, is the only player who has taken the Tigers to arbitration in 20 years.