Detroit Tigers: 2021 Non-Tender Candidates

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 07: Niko Goodrum #28 of the Detroit Tigers hits a two run double during the eleventh inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on August 7, 2020 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 07: Niko Goodrum #28 of the Detroit Tigers hits a two run double during the eleventh inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on August 7, 2020 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Tigers may have only finished third in the American League Central this season, but they showed massive improvements across the board.

The Detroit Tigers are ready to attack the free-agent market in a way Tigers fans haven’t seen in quite some time. That being said, fringe players who may have had a spot on the roster during a rebuild may not be back on the roster next year.

Below is a list of six arbitration-eligible players the Tigers may consider cutting ties with in order to give those precious spots on the 40-man roster to incoming talent.

Niko Goodrum

Our own Jacob Boes wrote about the utility player’s 2021 season in great detail just a few weeks back.

Goodrum is the perfect example of a player who survives roster cuts on a rebuilding team, with plenty of room for error in developing their game at the Major League level.

With rumors swirling of the Tigers landing a big-name free agent shortstop such as Carlos Correa or Trevor Story, the feel good story of Niko Goodrum in a Tigers uniform may have written its last chapter.

To tender Goodrum a contract this offseason would cost the Tigers roughly $3 million buckaroos. A hefty price for a player who has battled injuries over the last few campaigns, and batted .214 this past season with 107 strikeouts in 290 at bats.

The case to keep him lies on the fact he plays multiple positions is a switch hitter and is a fan favorite. I could also see him getting non-tendered and resigned to a minor league deal, but releasing him in the first place opens up the possibility he will catch on with another team looking to find that spark within Niko that the Tigers found a few years back.

Joe Jimenez

The one time closer of the future for the club, Jimenez has regressed over the past several seasons. Jimenez had an all-star campaign in 2018, but his ERA in the last two seasons has been 7.15 and 5.96.

In 2021 Jimenez walked 35 hitters in 45 and third innings. Although Jimenez felt he had his best year ever in 2021 ($) he may not be on the team next year to build upon that feel-good season.

He will earn an estimated $1.75 million through arbitration. My gut says the Tigers pay him and give him one more shot to turn the tide before they are really contending in another year or so. If he plays well and the Tigers aren’t quite on the cusp of playoff contention near the trade deadline, he could be a nice piece for a contending team to give up some prospects for.

Grayson Greiner/Dustin Garneau

One of these two men will most likely go into the season as Eric Haase’s backup behind the dish, but there is also the chance that the Tigers go out and sign an experienced backup catcher to platoon with Haase until Jake Rogers comes back from Tommy John surgery, which may not be until 2023.

Greiner has been with the team longer and is going to be cheaper in arbitration reeling in an estimated $800 thousand, while Garneau, who came in guns-a-blazin’ late in the season will earn an estimated $1.5 million.

While Garneau blasted six homers in twenty games upon debuting with the team, it doesn’t overcompensate for his .210 batting average. The journeyman has been on six teams in seven years and is just getting to his first arbitration-eligible offseason.

Greiner himself didn’t have a season to write home about, but his relatively cheap price tag and experience within the organization may be his lifeline for at least the next season.

Ian Krol

The southpaw was a member of the club for a few seasons a couple of years ago before making his return to Motown in 2021.

To tender him a contract will cost the Tigers approximately $1 million dollars.

With lefty specialists being less of a niche nowadays with the three batters minimum rule, relievers have to be able to get both sides of the plate out with regularity. Over 18 2/3 innings this past season, Krol managed 18 strikeouts, 8 walks, and 9 earned runs.

While no in-house options for the similar role Krol plays stand out as superior, the team could spend a little more and get a more proven arm such as Brad Hand or Andrew Miller, if they are serious about contending this season.

Drew Hutchison

Hutchison had a nice earned run average in his brief time with the club in ’21. His other numbers weren’t as great in his first season at the MLB level since 2018, striking out only 10 in 21 1/3 innings.

While it may seem cheap to give him another look in 2022, I don’t think the team wants to pay around $1 million to give him that chance. Another candidate to possibly be non-tendered, and then sign a minor league deal to return.