Friday was the official arbitration deadline, so players and teams had to either sign or exchange salary numbers to continue negotiations. The two remaining arbitration-eligible Detroit Tigers, J.D. Martinez and Jose Iglesias, made moves yesterday.
On a positive note, Iglesias will receive $2.1 million for one year. This keeps the team and Iglesias’s camp from entering into the complicated arbitration procedures. Iggy’s performance at the plate improved in 2015 with a .300 batting average. He earned his first invitation to the All-Star Game and he continues to show up on highlight reels with his acrobatic plays as shortstop.
Friday also saw an exchange of salary requests from J.D. Martinez and the Detroit Tigers. As a top-ten home run hitter, Silver Slugger winner, and the Tiger of the Year, Martinez’s salary request was for $8 million in 2016. The Tigers offered $6 million. Their salary figures came by the arbitration deadline, so the two camps can continue to negotiate. Since their numbers are not too far apart, it is safe to say that they will come to an agreement and avoid having to meet with an arbitrator.
Martinez has proven himself to be an asset to the Detroit Tigers in his two years with the team. He went from being released by the Houston Astros to being one of the most reliable players in Detroit. He has two seasons left under Detroit control, so it could be in both parties’ best interest to sign a long term contract. No matter what happens between now and the start of the season, Martinez will earn a nice raise over his $3 million contract in 2015.
Martinez is a hard-working player who has spent significant time working on his craft. As an Astro, he decided to abandon the swing he had used for years. He decided to model his new swing after Miguel Cabrera‘s. Martinez spent hours watching video of Cabrera’s swing, then worked with a hitting coach in Venezuela. This was when the Tigers started to watch him in prior to the 2014 season. As soon as the Astros released him during the spring of 2014, the Tigers quickly pounced. The rest is history, making Martinez one of the best deals that the Tigers have ever made.
The Detroit Tigers have had a positive track record with players who are eligible for arbitration meetings. No players have had to meet with an arbitrator since the Tigers employed Dave Dombrowski in his run from 2002 to 2015. This is a point of pride with the team due to the fact that players like to avoid these uncomfortable meetings, too.