Ranking the Tigers’ Extension Candidates


The Tigers have several players eligible for arbitration this winter.  While this is a good thing in that it means these players are under team control, arbitration will eventually run out, making them free agents.  For this reason, a general manager must determine which players to offer long term contracts to, and when to do it.  For players having much success, arbitration can make for a big raise each year, making it more sensible to sign them up to a long-term deal.  However, as Dave Dombrowski now faces, sometimes it is not so easy to decide whom to sign.

The players of note that Dombrowski must be considering offering extensions to are Austin Jackson, Alex Avila, Brennan Boesch, Doug Fister, Max Scherzer, and Rick Porcello.  There is no way he will offer all a big contract, and, to be clear, he doesn’t have to offer any a contract.  But I propose this question:  Which player do you expect to continue to increase in value and therefore should be locked up now?  My conclusions…

1. Austin Jackson

Jackson has had a very important season this year.  He has put to bed all of the questions that came up last year.  Could he be a leadoff hitter?  Will he reduce his strikeouts? Is he a .290 hitter or a .250 hitter?  When will that power turn on?  He has answered all these questions on the positive side, and his defense has never been questioned.  I think he is the best option to offer a four to six year deal.  The longer they wait, the more expensive he will become.

2. Doug Fister

Fister is eligible for free agency after the 2015 season, so no big worries here.  But in terms of value, I see Fister increasing significantly.  He is on his way to another great second half, and I am excited to see his numbers when he finally gets a full season.  Getting him to sign a four or five year deal this off-season (when he doesn’t command big-time money) may seem genius in a couple years.

3. Alex Avila

Trading Rob Brantley didn’t get much attention, but it was definitely a statement from Dombrowski: Avila is our guy.  After his 2011 season, few would disagree.  However, 2012 has brought up questions about his durability and long-term health.  He has suffered through many injuries and has lost much extra base power.  Perhaps it is just a blip on the radar, a consequence of his first grueling campaign in the majors as a catcher.  Even so, I would like to see one more good year before extending Avila long term.

4. Tie: Rick Porcello/Max Scherzer

The question I have asked more than any other over the last couple years has been: “Who do I trust more?  Rick Porcello or Max Scherzer?  Something tells me Leyland and Dombrowski have been asking the same question.  I have not seen enough consistency out of either of them to justify a long-term deal.  Maybe a two year deal just to avoid their arbitration years (they will then be saved for later) would make sense.

5. Brennan Boesch

Boesch is far from extension worthy.  His 2012 season has been a step backward.  His .250 average is only acceptable as a 25 – 30 home run guy.  He seems to have the potential for that, and yet sits at just 11 homers with 50 games left.  Boesch’s defense leaves something to be desired as well.  Not only is he a ways from a contract, he may be a trade candidate.  With Nick Castellanos knocking on the door, another outfielder will become expendable.