Tigers decline Peralta’s option, upbeat on new deal

The Tigers are still working on a contract extension for Jhonny Peralta, but his $7.25 million option is now officially out of the question. The team confirmed Tuesday it has declined the option, making the infielder a free agent.

The move means little right now as far as Detroit’s chances for retaining Peralta, which seem to be improving.

“We remain optimistic that a deal can be worked out between Jhonny and the club,” team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said in a statement.

That feeling appears to be mutual.

“We are encouraged and are also optimistic,” Seth Levinson, one of Peralta’s agents, told MLB.com in an email Tuesday morning.

The Tigers retain exclusive negotiating rights with Peralta through Saturday, and they’ll keep talking. Peralta and his agents, Seth and Sam Levinson, can talk with other teams during that stretch, but they can’t talk contracts. Once that timeframe ends, free agents are free to sign wherever.

The two sides have been talking since season’s end, but haven’t been able to bridge the gap on financial terms. The Tigers were not going to sign Peralta for anything close to the salary in his option. Though expectations last week centered on a two-year contract for a lower average salary, that was far from a done deal.

Peralta’s option was the last remaining piece of the five-year, $13 million contract he signed with the Indians after the 2005 season. Cleveland did not plan on retaining him, so it traded Peralta to Detroit July 28 in exchange for minor-league pitcher Geovany Soto.

– Jason Beck

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