Detroit Tigers salary arbitration projections for 2024

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MLB Trade Rumors has published their 2024 projected salaries for baseball’s arbitration eligible players. Matt Swartz has developed a model that is widely respected and generally very accurate in his projections.

The Tigers will have up to eight players eligible for arbitration for the 2024 season. We say “up to” eight, because players can be non tendered if a team doesn’t want to chance it in arbitration, and the exact “super two” cutoff hasn’t been made official just yet.

The Tigers have a relatively inexpensive class of arbitration eligible players, with eight players projected to receive combined total salary increases of about $5.3 million over what they were paid for the 2023 season. That total will likely be even less by the time the deadline to tender contracts arrives, as Austin Meadows, the most expensive projection in the group, is not expected to be tendered a contract that would trigger the arbitration process. There are also one or two other players the Tigers may decide to non-tender.

Players with at least three years of service time, but less than the six years required for free agency, are eligible for arbitration. For reference, one year of service time equals 172 days on the 26-man active roster or the MLB injured list. You have to be in one of those two categories nearly the entire season to earn a full year of service time.

In addition, the top 22 percent of players, in terms of service time, with more than two but less than three full years are also arbitration eligible as “super two” players. Those players can have up to four seasons of arbitration eligibility. The specific cutoff date varies on a year-to-year basis.

Akil Baddoo is on the bubble with two years and 119 days of service in the major leagues. 2.119 is how this is expressed in service time nomenclature. The cutoff a year ago was 2.128. The cutoff has been as high as 2.139 and as low as 2.115, so Baddoo is not guaranteed to be super two eligible by any means.

Following are the projections for the eight Tigers who could be arbitration eligible this winter:

Detroit Tigers’ 2024 Arbitration Projections

Player Service Time Arb Status 2023 Salary 2024 Projected Increase
Player Service Time Arb Status 2023 Salary 2024 Projected Increase
Austin Meadows 5.074 3 of 3 $4.3M $4.3M 0
Spencer Turnbull 4.167 3 of 4 $2.150M $2.4M 250K
Tyler Alexander 4.058 2 of 3 $1.875M $2.0M 125K
Trey Wingenter 4.017 1 of 3 731,136* $1.1M 369K
Tarik Skubal 3.114 2 of 3 743,700 $2.6M 1,856M
Casey Mize 3.111 1 of 3 734,200 $1.2M 466K
Jake Rogers 3.041 1 of 3 726,000 $2.0M 1.274M
Akil Baddoo 2.119 1 of 3 682,520* $1.7M 1.02M
Subtotal 8 players 11,942,556 $17.3M 5.357M
*Baddoo and Wingenter salaries adjusted for time in minor leagues

*Salaries for Baddoo and Wingenter are actual amounts paid including time in the minor leagues. Wingenter had a major league salary of $1 million.

Teams must offer, or “tender” a contract offer to arbitration eligible players by December 2nd in order for them to continue on the path to arbitration. A player who is “non tendered” becomes an unrestricted free agent, and is eligible to sign with any team.

Players and clubs must exchange salary proposals for the 2024 season in January. If the two sides don’t reach agreement, a three member arbitration panel will choose one or the other and the player will be on a one year, non guaranteed contract for the season.

Austin Meadows is likely to be non tendered as he has missed almost all of the past two seasons due to anxiety. In his postseason presser, President Scott Harris admitted that he hadn’t spoken to Meadows in months and that getting in touch was an early offseason priority for him. Another way to look to phrase that is that Meadows shows no signs of a return to action. The club could come to terms with him on a minor league contract that pays him considerably more should he make it back to the major leagues, but it also seems more and more likely that Meadows won’t be returning to the game.

Right-handed reliever Trey Wingenter is probably the other most likely to be non-tendered. He racked up plenty of strikeouts, and was effective most of the time when he was on the mound, but the endless series of injuries that have plagued him since his one good season for the San Diego Padres in 2019 continued this year. We’ll see if the Tigers still believe they can get him right.

Spencer Turnbull had a turbulent season that saw him optioned to Toledo only for him to reveal a neck injury that landed him on the injured list instead. There, he continued to accrue service time and major league pay. Upon his return, he was optioned again, just a week shy of hitting the five year mark in service time, which would mean that he could not be optioned without his consent. At no point in his work at Triple-A Toledo did he look in shape to return to major league action, but that could change this offseason.

Getting optioned means that his major league service clock stopped, and the Tigers could get another season out of him before he is eligible for free agency. Relations between player and team seem pretty poor at this point, but perhaps clearer heads will prevail in the offseason and the two sides can get on the same page and come to an agreement on a number.

Turnbull was arguably the best pitcher in the Tigers rotation for a brief stretch in 2020-2021 prior to his UCL reconstruction in June 2022. If he can recapture that form he’d be a bargain at just $2.4 million. However, he is already 31 years old, with only that brief window of major league success behind him, so his future is pretty difficult to forecast.

Tyler Alexander is also a possible non tender candidate, although money should not be the reason if he is let go. The 29-year-old left-hander posted a 4.50 ERA with a respectable 1.11 WHIP, giving up 44 hits while striking out 44 and walking only five batters in 44 innings of work. He finished the season on the injured list with a torn lat muscle, but will not need surgery and is expected to be ready for spring training. I’m betting he stays. Effective lefties still aren’t that easy to come by, so tendering him a contract is wise even if they decide to trade or release him in the spring as the roster takes shape for the 2024 season.

Tarik Skubal is the prize of the pack, finishing the season being named Pitcher of the Month for September in the American League. In just 15 starts, he posted a 2.80 ERA while striking out 102 batters in 80 innings of work, and per FanGraphs was the game’s most valuable pitcher from the time he returned to action through the end of the season. In his first season of arbitration eligibility, his ceiling is top of the rotation, Cy Young contender. He’s a good candidate for contract extension talks this offseason.

Jake Rogers established himself as the every day starting catcher in 2023, starting over 100 games behind the plate. In his first season of eligibility, he is projected to receive a modest $2 million salary.

Casey Mize missed the 2023 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery but he added a full year of service time on the injured list. The former No 1 overall pick is projected to get a modest raise of less than half a million dollars. He should be ready for spring training.

Nine of the ten largest salaries as of opening day, 2023, will probably be off the books in 2024, including Eduardo Rodriguez’s deal, from which he’s almost certain to opt-out into free agency again. That’s about $75 million from a $118 million payroll. They’ll have plenty of money to spend this off season, and the arbitration salary increases projected aren’t going be a factor at all.

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