DETROIT -- The Tigers' streak of settling arbitration cases before a hearing rolls on. The team has reached an agreement with outfielder J.D. Martinez on a two-year contract worth $18.5 million.The agreement, initially reported on Monday and was pending a physical, was announced by the club on Wednesday.The deal covers
DETROIT -- The Tigers' streak of settling arbitration cases before a hearing rolls on. The team has reached an agreement with outfielder J.D. Martinez on a two-year contract worth $18.5 million.
The agreement, initially reported on Monday and was pending a physical, was announced by the club on Wednesday.
The deal covers Martinez's final two arbitration seasons while keeping him on track for free agency after the 2017 season, along with several other Tigers, including Mark Lowe, Mike Pelfrey and potentially Justin Upton, Anibal Sanchez, Ian Kinsler, Francisco Rodriguez and Cameron Maybin.
Martinez and the Tigers had mutual interest in a long-term contract earlier this offseason. After talks didn't yield a deal and the Tigers signed Upton to a six-year, $132.75 million contract -- a deal that includes a player opt-out two seasons in -- Martinez and the Tigers focused on avoiding arbitration.
The Tigers haven't faced an arbitration ruling on a player since 2001, a streak that general manager Al Avila's predecessor, Dave Dombrowski, carried through his 14-year tenure. The streak appeared to be in serious jeopardy after the Tigers and Martinez stood $2 million apart in arbitration filings last month. Detroit filed at $6 million, Martinez at $8 million.
The two sides were on track to go to an arbitration case at the end of the week. Instead, they not only avoided a hearing this week, but next winter as well. Martinez will reportedly make $6.75 million this year, followed by $11.75 million in 2017.
It's a hefty raise for a player who has raised his play in kind over two seasons since joining the Tigers near the end of Spring Training in 2014, having been released by the Astros a few days earlier. What began as a Minor League contract became a bargain for Detroit, where Martinez batted .315 with 23 homers and 76 RBIs in 2014.
Martinez and the Tigers avoided arbitration last winter with a $3 million contract. He followed by hitting .282 with 38 home runs, 33 doubles and 102 RBIs in 2015, earning his first All-Star selection at midseason and the Tiger of the Year award at season's end.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast.