Tigers avoid arbitration with Skubal, Rogers, Baddoo

January 12th, 2024

The Tigers agreed to terms with three of their four arbitration-eligible players on one-year contracts, reaching deals with left-hander Tarik Skubal, catcher Jake Rogers and outfielder .

Skubal’s deal is worth $2,650,000, Rogers at $1,700,000 and Baddoo at $1,550,000.

Right-hander is the lone remaining arbitration-eligible Tiger. The two sides exchanged figures on Thursday night: Mize filed at $840,000, while the Tigers filed at $815,000, according to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand. The Tigers in recent years have not negotiated after exchanging figures except for multi-year contracts, such as Spencer Turnbull's deal two years ago, so the two sides are expected to go to a hearing over the $25,000 difference. Hearings begin later this month.

All four players were eligible for arbitration for the first time this winter. Skubal, Mize and Rogers qualified with more than three years of Major League service time, while Baddoo qualified under the “Super Two” provision that allows top percentage players with close to three years of service time to qualify.

The 27-year-old Skubal posted a 7-3 record and 2.80 ERA in 15 starts after returning from flexor tendon surgery in July. He closed the season by winning American League Pitcher of the Month honors with a 4-0 record and 0.90 ERA over his final five starts, allowing just three runs on 14 hits over 30 innings with four walks and 43 strikeouts.

With former Tigers ace Eduardo Rodriguez now in Arizona, Skubal has an opportunity to front a rotation that added Kenta Maeda and Jack Flaherty in free agency.

Rogers, who turns 29 in April, enters the season as the Tigers’ lead catcher after working back from Tommy John surgery last year. Not only did Rogers establish himself behind the plate in Detroit, he finished second on the team with 21 home runs -- seventh-most among Major League catchers -- in just 331 at-bats to go with a .221 batting average and .730 OPS.

Baddoo was a sudden sensation in 2021 as a Rule 5 Draft pick out of the Twins organization. He homered on the first Major League pitch he saw, then hit a grand slam the next day in his first big-league start.

While the 25-year-old has struggled to find an everyday spot in the lineup in the two-plus seasons since then, he has forged a regular role on the roster with a combination of athleticism, speed, timely hitting and improved defense, skills which should help him again as he competes in a crowded Tigers outfield in Spring Training.

Baddoo batted .218 last year with 11 home runs, 34 RBIs and a .682 OPS. His 14 stolen bases finished second on the club to Zach McKinstry, while his plus-3 Baserunning Run Value ranked in the 93rd percentile among MLB players according to Statcast.

While his 11.8 percent walk rate last year was a career high, and his 24.9 percent strikeout rate a career low, he batted .257 with runners in scoring position to go with three homers, 25 RBIs and an .862 OPS, including 5-for-12 with two homers and 11 RBIs with a runner on third and two outs.

Mize is a first-time arbitration eligible coming off a season of rehab from Tommy John surgery. The No. 1 overall pick from the 2018 Draft hasn’t pitched in a game since April 14, 2022. He’s on a normal offseason program and is expected to be ready to compete when Spring Training opens next month. He has a 7-13 record with a 4.29 ERA and 148 strikeouts over 188 2/3 career Major League innings, covering 39 starts.

The Tigers have faced one arbitration ruling in the last 22 years, winning their case against Michael Fulmer in 2019.