The Tigers avoided salary arbitration Friday with their eight remaining arbitration-eligible players, reaching agreements on one-year contracts with infielders Niko Goodrum and Jeimer Candelario, center fielder JaCoby Jones and pitchers Matthew Boyd, José Cisnero, Buck Farmer, Joe Jiménez and Daniel Norris.
The deals, as Friday’s deadline for exchanging arbitration figures came and went, mean the Tigers will avoid an arbitration hearing for the second straight year. Michael Fulmer’s hearing in 2019 remains the only one the team has faced over the past 20 years.
Boyd reached a deal later Friday, agreeing to terms for a $6.5 million salary, according to a source. The left-hander, who turns 30 on Feb. 2, is in search of a rebound after posting an American League-high 6.71 ERA and going 3-7 in 12 starts with the Tigers last year. He has led AL pitchers in home runs allowed in each of the past two seasons. He had a $5.2 million deal last year that was later prorated for the pandemic-shortened season.
The 28-year-old Jones had the makings of a career-best season when it ended at the start of September with a fractured left hand sustained on a hit by pitch. He finished with an .849 OPS, 109 points above his previous top mark, while batting .268 (26-for-97) with nine doubles, five home runs and 14 RBIs. He settled with the Tigers at a $2.65 million salary, according to a source, after making $1,575,000 last season in his first year of arbitration.
Candelario was eligible for arbitration for the first time this offseason, coming off a career breakout season for the corner infielder. The 27-year-old switch-hitter batted .297 (55-for-185) with seven homers, 29 RBIs and an .872 OPS. He was among the AL’s top 10 in Wins Above Replacement for a stretch in September before finishing with a 1.9 bWAR. He settled with the Tigers at a $2.85 million salary, according to a source.
The hard-throwing Cisnero settled into a middle-relief role last year, recording seven holds in nine chances ranging from the sixth inning to the eighth. He allowed 23 hits over 29 2/3 innings, walking 10 and striking out 34, while posting a 3-3 record and 3.03 ERA. He settled with the Tigers at a $970,000 salary, according to a source.
Earlier in the day, Norris and the Tigers agreed at a $3,475,000 salary, according to a source. Norris, who will turn 28 in April, enters his final season before free agency without an established role. The left-hander was set to open last season in the rotation before the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown and then missed Summer Camp and the start of the season after testing positive. Norris will get a chance to compete as a starter in Spring Training but seems more likely to end up in the bullpen as a multi-inning reliever. He was slated to make $2.96 million last year before the season was shortened.
Farmer settled with the Tigers at a $1,850,000 salary, according to a source. The right-hander, who will turn 30 next month, has been a workhorse in Detroit’s bullpen the past three seasons, including 23 games and 21 1/3 innings last year as the Tigers’ primary setup man. He and the Tigers agreed at $1.15 million last year.
Jiménez and Goodrum had interesting situations, both hitting arbitration eligibility coming off the worst seasons of their brief careers and heading into uncertain roles going forward.
In his first year of arbitration eligibility, Jiménez agreed to a $1.5 million salary, according to a source. The right-hander, who will turn 26 on Sunday, opened the 2020 season as Detroit’s closer, but his struggles forced him into situational work to try to find better form. Jiménez finished with five saves and a 7.15 ERA in 25 appearances and allowed seven home runs over 22 2/3 innings.
Goodrum and the Tigers agreed to a $2.1 million salary, according to a source. Goodrum, who will turn 29 next month, began the 2020 season as Detroit’s starting shortstop but ended it at second base after Willi Castro took over. Goodrum was statistically the Tigers’ strongest defensive shortstop since José Iglesias left, but the switch-hitter’s .184 batting average was by far his career low. Goodrum finished with more than twice as many strikeouts (69) as hits (29), while adding five home runs, 20 RBIs and a .598 OPS.