DETROIT - The Detroit Tigers avoided arbitration with six players Friday, increasing their payroll by over $13 million while agreeing to terms with a talented group that includes right-hander Doug Fister and center fielder Austin Jackson.
Right-hander Max Scherzer is the only Detroit player remaining whose case could go to a hearing next month.
Fister, 18-11 since the Tigers acquired him in a midseason trade in 2011, will make $4 million this season. Jackson, the speedy outfielder who hit .300 last year, will make $3.5 million.
Detroit also reached a $5.1 million deal with right-hander Rick Porcello, a $2.95 million contract with catcher Alex Avila, a $2.3 million agreement with outfielder Brennan Boesch and a $1.85 million deal with left-handed reliever Phil Coke.
After winning the AL pennant, Detroit signed free agent outfielder Torii Hunter this offseason and re-signed right-hander Anibal Sanchez. The Tigers haven't made any other major additions, but Friday's deals with arbitration-eligible players involved a bit of a financial hit.
The six players will make a combined $19.7 million this year. Last season, they earned $6,245,000 — and Porcello's $3.1 million contract accounted for about half of that.
Scherzer is coming off an impressive season in which he went 16-7 with 231 strikeouts in 187 2-3 innings. He is asking for $7.4 million through arbitration, and the team is offering $6.05 million. The two sides could still come to an agreement before a three-arbitrator panel hears the case in Phoenix.
Porcello received a $2 million raise, but it's not clear how much longer he'll remain with the Tigers. They have six capable starting pitchers after keeping Sanchez, making Porcello a potential trade candidate if Detroit decides to go with left-hander Drew Smyly as its fifth starter.
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