DETROIT -- The Tigers will go another winter without an arbitration hearing. The team avoided arbitration with one-year contracts for third baseman Nick Castellanos, utility man Andrew Romine, shortstop Jose Iglesias and relievers Alex Wilson, Justin Wilson and Bruce Rondon.
The one-year deals continue the streak for the Tigers, who haven't had an arbitration ruling since 2001. Assistant general manager John Westhoff has been the Tigers' legal counsel and chief negotiator during that streak.
"Every year is different," said Westhoff, who credited the work of baseball operations director Sam Menzin and senior director of baseball analytics Jay Sartori.
Romine agreed to a deal for $1.3 million, a raise from his $900,000 deal to avoid arbitration this past winter. The veteran infielder, who turned 31 on Christmas Eve, added some center-field work to his resume and became a superutility player, seeing time at every defensive position except catcher. He even pitched two-thirds of an inning, his second career appearance on the mound.
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At the plate, the switch-hitter batted .236 (41-for-174) with 13 walks, two home runs, 16 RBIs and a .626 OPS. He drew three bases-loaded walks, including a go-ahead run against Boston on Aug. 18. He drove in another run on a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch.
Alex Wilson, a first-time arbitration-eligible player, agreed to a $1.175 million contract. He set career highs with 62 appearances and 73 innings in his role as a do-everything reliever. The 30-year-old right-hander posted a 4-0 record and 2.96 ERA, striking out 49 and walking 21.
MLBTradeRumors.com, which uses past cases and player comparisons to make annual projections, predicted both Romine and Wilson to make $1.2 million.
Iglesias, a second-time arbitration-eligible player, made $4.1 million, up from $2.1 this past year. The 27-year-old was a Gold Glove finalist at shortstop in 2016 while batting .255 with four home runs, 32 RBIs and a .643 OPS.
Likewise, Justin Wilson will get a significant raise in his second year of arbitration, going from $1.525 million to $2.7 million. That's right where MLBTradeRumors.com had projected him. The 29-year-old lefty posted a 4-5 record and 4.14 ERA last year, his first season in Detroit, striking out 65 batters over 58 2/3 innings.
Though Rondon has yet to spend a full season in the Majors, he had enough service time over the past four years to become eligible for arbitration for the first time. He'll make $850,000 after his best season in Detroit, having struck out 45 batters over 36 1/3 innings while allowing just 23 hits and a 2.97 ERA.
Castellanos will make $3 million in his first year of arbitration following a breakout offensive season shortened by a fractured left hand that cost him most of the final two months. He set career highs with a .285 average, 18 home runs, .331 on-base percentage and a .496 slugging percentage. His .827 OPS beat his previous high from 2015 by 106 points.
The raises bump up a payroll that was already over the luxury tax threshold last year. Contrary to popular belief, the Tigers could not have tempered that with longer-term contracts and backloaded salaries, since such contracts are calculated for luxury tax purposes by the average annual value of the entire deal.