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A sometimes-irreverent look at Detroit's Boys of Summer, the Tigers, as they try to return to the top of the American League Central.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tigers avoid arbitration with Galarraga, agree to 1-year deal

It appears everyone will get a little bit of what they want in this case.

Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman tweeted late Monday night that the Detroit Tigers had reached an agreement with pitcher Armando Galarraga on a 1-year, $2.3 million deal, avoiding the prospect of an arbitration battle.

For Galarraga, who has an astronomical run of bad luck — dating back to his stolen perfect game on June 2, through his inability to win a game for the remainder of the season (he finished 4-9 with a 4.49 ERA), to the likelihood that last week's signing of Brad Penny for the No. 5 starter role making the just-turned-28-year-old expendable — this was finally a bit of good fortune. After making just $438,000 last year, Galarraga got nearly a $2M raise.

For Tigers president and GM Dave Dombrowski, it's a still clean record of never going to arbitration in his tenure with the franchise. That record was in jeopardy, with the deadline for clubs and arbitration-eligible players to exchange offers looming Tuesday.

Now the two sides will have to figure out what Galarraga's role will be on the 2011 squad. With Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello set in stone atop the starting rotation, and the Tiger brass confident that lefty long reliever Phil Coke — a starter for most of his minor-league career — can make the transition back to starter, it appears that there's only one spot open on the starting staff. The Tigers agreed to terms on a one-year, $3 million contract with Penny last week, and even if the club has the two battle it out for the No. 5 spot, the veteran likely has a better chance, if he's back to his form of two seasons ago.

Galarraga is out of options, so the Tigers can't send him back to the minors, meaning — should he lose the battle for the No. 5 spot with Penny — they'll either have to put him in a long relief role in the bullpen, or see if he's got any value on the trade market.

UPDATE: The Tigers didn't let this one linger long, deciding just hours after officially announcing the deal with Galarraga to designate him for assignment. The organization will now try to trade him to a team looking for a back-of-the-rotation starter.
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