With seven players eligible for arbitration, including newly acquired stars Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis, the Tigers entered Wednesday's non-tender deadline with some tough financial decisions to ponder.
They took care of one of those arbitration-eligibles with the signing of left-handed reliever Tim Byrdak to a one-year deal worth $712,500, plus another $12,500 if he appears in 55 or more games in '08.
But while Byrdak is being kept in the fold, Chad Durbin has been set free.
In addition to the Byrdak signing, the Tigers announced Wednesday that they will not tender a contract to the right-handed Durbin, meaning he is now a free agent eligible to sign with any Major League team.
Though Durbin provided some needed depth to an injury-depleted rotation in '07, going 8-7 with a 4.72 ERA in 36 outings (including 19 starts), his arbitration eligibility dictated that he was due for a hefty raise from the $385,000 he made this past year. The Tigers also have Zach Miner and Jason Grilli in the fold to handle the right-handed middle relief duties.
"I anticipated some difficulties in bringing me to arbitration," Durbin wrote in an e-mail to MLB.com. "I couldn't foresee being paid like a back-end starter while staying out in the bullpen. Being non-tendered allows us to explore the market. My interest will be in finding a place to start and get consistent work."
Durbin said the Tigers were professional throughout the process.
The course that lies ahead for the Tigers will likely include an attempt to lock Cabrera and Willis up with multiyear contracts. Both are eligible for free agency after the 2009 season.
The Tigers' other arbitration-eligible players are left-handers Nate Robertson and Bobby Seay and outfielder Marcus Thames.
The Detroit Free Press reported that the Tigers have signed outfielder Timo Perez to a one-year deal worth a maximum of $525,000 if he sticks with the big league club or $150,000 if he plays in the Minors, but the deal has not been officially announced.
Perez had been designated for assignment on Nov. 30, and outrighted to the Minors last week. He had two call ups to Detroit last season, batting .389 with 13 RBIs in 29 games. He would likely enter Spring Training with a shot at landing a reserve role.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.