Tigers, Casey Mize Avoid Arbitration

MLB Trade Rumors

The Tigers and right-hander have avoided arbitration with right-hander Casey Mize, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The righty will make $840K this year and there’s a $3.1MM club option for 2025. Even if that option were to be turned down, he would still be under club control via arbitration. It will be a salary of $830K and a $10K buyout on the option, per Mark Feinsand of MLB.com. The Tigers have now announced these details.

Mize, 27 in May, spent all of 2023 on the injured list after undergoing both Tommy John surgery and back surgery in the summer of 2022. Players on the major league injured list continue to accrue service time, so Mize was able to qualify for arbitration this offseason. Since he had missed so much time, MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projected Mize for a modest raise to $1.2MM, not too far from the $740K minimum salary in the upcoming campaign.

The arbitration filing deadline was last week and it passed without an agreement between Mize and the Tigers, with an absurdly small gap between the two sides. The righty filed at $840K and the club at $815K. Clubs and players are allowed to continue negotiating and reach a settlement after filing, but many clubs deploy a “file and trial” strategy. This means that, for negotiating purposes, they won’t talk to players after the filing deadline except for a multi-year pact.

The Tigers are one such “file and trial” club but found themselves in a bit of an awkward situation after last week’s deadline. Going to a hearing over $25K is a bad look for public relations purposes and likely a significant waste of resources, when considering the time needed for staff to prepare for a hearing. But they also probably had little interest in locking up Mize on a long-term deal due to his struggles, both in terms of results and health. In the end, they have wriggled out of the jam by agreeing to this option structure, which gets Mize’s guarantee up to his filing figure without the Tigers committing any real future dollars.

The 2024 season could be significant for Mize. A former first-overall pick, he has posted middling results thus far in his big league career. He has thrown 188 2/3 innings with a 4.29 earned run average, 18.7% strikeout rate, 7.1% walk rate and 45.8% ground ball rate. After pitching just 10 innings in 2022 and none at all last year, he may face workload limitations.

The club signed Kenta Maeda and Jack Flaherty this winter to join a rotation mix that should be fronted by Tarik Skubal and also includes Matt Manning, Reese Olson, Sawyer Gipson-Long, Wilmer Flores and others. Mize has a full slate of options if he’s not able to secure a rotation job and/or the club wants to monitor his workload. He can be controlled via arbitration two more times before he’s set to become a free agent after 2026, though optional assignments could impact that trajectory.

22 players were set to go to hearings but this deal reduces that number to 21.

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