DETROIT – The Detroit Tigers tendered contracts to all nine of their arbitration-eligible players Wednesday, meaning they will all return for the 2021 season.
Jeimer Candelario, Matthew Boyd, Daniel Norris, JaCoby Jones, Jose Cisnero, Niko Goodrum, Michael Fulmer, Joe Jimenez and Buck Farmer are all eligible for arbitration this off-season, meaning the Tigers had to decide if they wanted to work toward a deal or let them move on to free agency.
By tendering contracts to these players, the Tigers will now negotiate salaries for the 2021 season. The sides have until Jan. 15 to reach deals, or else they will be forced to go to arbitration hearings.
Last season, the Tigers won an arbitration hearing with Fulmer, who filed for $3.4 million but ultimately earned $2.8 million for the season.
None of these players will end up earning more than a few million dollars for the upcoming season, so this was a fairly easy call for the Tigers.
Boyd struggled mightily in the shortened 2020 season, but he’ll be cemented toward the top of the starting rotation when spring training begins in February.
Norris starred out of the bullpen after missing the start of the season due to COVID-19. He still has aspirations to return to the starting rotation, but he’s been most effective in shorter outings -- as an opener in 2019 and a reliever in 2020.
Cisnero, Jimenez and Farmer will all have spots in the 2021 bullpen, though their roles will likely be determined during the spring. Cisnero was one of the team’s best pitchers in 2020, while Jimenez and Farmer -- the closer and set-up men, respectively, in 2019 -- couldn’t find their footing.
Fulmer pitched in the opener’s role for 2020 following a full season lost to Tommy John surgery. Many of the issues that plagued Fulmer before the injury -- primarily an inability to miss bats -- were still present. As the team’s talented pitching prospects make their way toward the big leagues, Fulmer’s spot in the rotation gets more and more tenuous.
Candelario was Detroit’s best player in 2020, breaking out and showing the top 100 prospect potential the team traded for in 2017. Candelario moved from third base to first base after C.J. Cron’s season-ending injury. Whichever corner he mans going forward, he’ll be at the heart of the batting order.
Jones was also having a nice season before he went down with another injury. Once again, Jones hurt by an unfortunate hit-by-pitch. It’s the third season in which Jones has missed significant time due to injury from being hit by a pitch.
Goodrum played excellent defense at shortstop in his first season playing the position full-time. But he never got the bat going, striking out far too often and regressing in terms of power and getting on base.
The Tigers hired former Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch, and owner Chris Ilitch said it’s time for the team to start becoming more competitive. As teams around the league cut ties with solid players to save money -- such as Eddie Rosario in Minnesota, Kyle Schwarber for the Chicago Cubs and Renato Núñez in Baltimore -- the Tigers appear willing to pay these players what they’ve earned to see if they can help in the future.