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Detroit Tigers: It’s Arbitration Time

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Jul 3, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers right fielder J.D. Martinez (right) second baseman Ian Kinsler (3) center fielder Anthony Gose (12) and third baseman Andrew Romine (27) celebrate after the game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Comerica Park. Detroit won 8-6. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 3, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers right fielder J.D. Martinez (right) second baseman Ian Kinsler (3) center fielder Anthony Gose (12) and third baseman Andrew Romine (27) celebrate after the game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Comerica Park. Detroit won 8-6. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /
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Now that the Hot Stove season is set on simmer and the Detroit Tigers appear to be slowing down on new signings, it is time for the front office to take care of its own by taking care of arbitration business.

Jul 1, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias (1) makes a throw against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first inning at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 1, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias (1) makes a throw against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first inning at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

Four Tigers, Jose Iglesias, Andrew Romine, Alex Wilson, and J.D. Martinez, are eligible for arbitration. Of the four, Wilson, Romine, and Iglesias should have quick and easy negotiations. Iglesias made $1.4 million next year. His 2016 contract should be relatively close, especially with his continued injuries and missed playing time. Wilson should make around $1.5 million in 2016. Romine made $520,000 and should see a slight increase in 2016.

Martinez’s contract, on the other hand, could be a more complicated procedure. It is clear that Martinez is a player who has succeeded with the Tigers. It is also clear that the Tigers want to keep him in right field, since they did not sign anyone else to fill that spot. Al Avila has commented publicly that the team wants to retain him; Martinez has commented that he wants to stay with Detroit. In 2015, he made $3 million. The Tigers are expected to offer him a contract worth at least double that amount.

Jul 9, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers right fielder J.D. Martinez (28) celebrates after scoring in the fourth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 9, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers right fielder J.D. Martinez (28) celebrates after scoring in the fourth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports /

The challenge with Martinez comes with the fact that no players have signed contract extensions with the Detroit Tigers since 2002 with Dave Dombrowski. The most notable recent player the Tigers lost was Max Scherzer in his 2014 season. He wanted to test the free agency market and he clearly passed the test.

As an outfielder, the market for J.D. Martinez is not as lucrative as it is for a pitcher like Scherzer. However, the contract that the Chicago Cubs gave to Jason Heyward (who does not have the offensive statistics that Martinez has) shows that an outfielder like J.D. could be a hot commodity when he reaches free agency. If Martinez does not sign an extension, the Tigers do have minor league player

If Martinez does not sign an extension, the Tigers do have minor league player Steven Moya waiting in the wings. But, if Tigers are able to lock in Martinez for several years, he could easily become one of the “faces” of the team along with Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander. It is easy to imagine Martinez staying with Detroit for the rest of his career.

Apr 13, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Detroit Tigers left fielder J.D. Martinez (28) greets teammates during pre-game introductions before playing the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. The Pirates won 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 13, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Detroit Tigers left fielder J.D. Martinez (28) greets teammates during pre-game introductions before playing the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. The Pirates won 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

His route to Detroit is one of legends. In the spring of 2014, the Houston Astros let him go. Two days later the Tigers signed him. He played in 17 games Triple-A Toledo with 10 home runs and 22 RBIs. The Tigers saw what they had in him and pulled him up to Detroit on April 21, 2014. He is with the Tigers until 2018.

In 2015, Martinez was named the Detroit Tigers Player of the Year. He also won a Silver Slugger along with Miguel Cabrera. He also earned his first invitation to play in the All-Star Game. He finished in 11th place in the MLB home run leader list.

Next: Former Detroit Tigers on the 2017 Hall of Fame Ballot

It is clear that Martinez has a bright future ahead of him and there are teams that could be ready to pay him big money. Hopefully, the Tigers know what Martinez can do for the team and pay him enough to want to stay.

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