Casey Mize’s arbitration comments feel like Tigers set the wrong tone

Toronto Blue Jays v Detroit Tigers
Toronto Blue Jays v Detroit Tigers / Mark Cunningham/GettyImages

When Casey Mize and the Detroit Tigers didn't reach an agreement on a 2024 salary to avoid arbitration at the deadline on Jan. 11, some expected a strife-filled saga to follow. Both sides still had some time to exchange figures before having to go to an arbitration panel later that month, but some commentators believed the Tigers, a "file-and-trial" team, would nix conversations and go straight to legal proceedings.

Lucky for both sides, they did come back together to avoid any extended nastiness, with Mize agreeing to $830,000 in 2024 after requesting $840,000 (the Tigers initially offered $815,000). Arbitration panels are best avoided, as they have a reputation for damaging relationships between players and their teams. The Tigers will be welcoming Mize back to the mound after over a year away with injury, so now doesn't seem like the time to create unrest.

Chris McCosky of The Detroit News reported that there was "no bad blood" between Mize and the team, but also that Mize doesn't expect the team to exercise the $3.1 million club option they threw into his arbitration agreement (subscription required).

No hard feelings for Casey Mize after Detroit Tigers arbitration case, but the future looks murky

If Detroit doesn't exercise Mize's option next season, he'll go back to arbitration and Mize will get a $10,000 buyout. This seems likely the most likely scenario. It was a show of optimism and faith for the Tigers, who have always had a lot of hopes riding on him, the first overall pick in the 2018 draft. However, given the huge gap between $830,000 and $3.1 million, it seems unlikely that Mize will be able to bridge it with just one season filled with (presumably) innings-limited appearances this year.

It would be great for everyone if Mize could absolutely shatter expectations and earn his way up to $3.1 million to avoid any arbitration nastiness next season, but he seems prepared to go through the entire process again. This isn't to say that they can't come together and be more agreeable next year, but they were willing to haggle over $25,000 this year, and that's not particularly reassuring for the future.