Javier Báez’s $25 million could be only big deal

Detroit Tigers president of baseball operations, Scott Harris, is optimistic about the team’s finances for the upcoming offseason. Harris, who works for Tigers owner Christopher Ilitch, is focused on building a sustainable and winning team for the future. He believes that the important question is not about the payroll number or spending, but rather about the path to contention.

The Tigers had a payroll of $122 million for the 2023 season, ranking 19th among all teams. However, it is expected to be under $100 million for the 2024 season, marking a decrease since 2021 and 2007, excluding the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. Despite this decrease in payroll, Harris feels confident in the team’s resources and flexibility.

Harris acknowledges that some organizations have made the mistake of overestimating their proximity to contention or trying to take shortcuts through heavy spending in free agency, which ultimately set them back. As the Tigers enter Harris’ second offseason, he is focused on making sound decisions to lead the team to contention.

The Tigers currently have no fully guaranteed contract commitments for the 2024 season. However, shortstop Javier Báez will pick up his player option after the World Series, securing a four-year, $98 million contract. Báez’s contract, along with player options for Eduardo Rodriguez and Carson Kelly, adds up to $43 million.

The Tigers can decide to bring back Kelly for the 2024 season with a $3.5 million team option. As for veteran player Miguel Cabrera, who retired at the end of the 2023 season, he has $30 million vesting options for the 2024 and 2025 seasons, but these options will only be triggered if he finishes in the top 10 for the MVP voting.

The Tigers have eight players eligible for salary arbitration, with estimated salaries totaling around $17.3 million. Harris expects to retain most of these players, with only Austin Meadows and Trey Wingenter potentially being non-tendered and become free agents.

The Tigers will also have pre-arbitration deals for players like Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene, who are not yet eligible for salary arbitration. The estimated total for these contracts is $15 million.

Overall, while the Tigers’ payroll may not include many big deals for the 2024 season, Harris remains focused on building a competitive team for the future.


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