Tigers, Galarraga avoid arbitration

The Tigers will go another winter without an arbitration hearing,
continuing their streak by agreeing to terms on a one-year contract with
right-hander Armando Galarraga.

The deal, announced Tuesday, is reportedly worth $2.3 million for the
first-time arbitration eligible Galarraga. It bridges what was expected
to be a potentially difficult gap between what Galarraga wanted after
the better part of three seasons in Detroit’s rotation, and what the
Tigers wanted for someone whose rotation chances for 2011 now look shaky
after last week’s signing of Brad Penny.

Galarraga had a statistical conundrum of a season, and his would-be
perfect game ruined by umpire Jim Joyce’s blown call was just the start
of it. Galarraga could never turn that June 2 outing into momentum for
the summer, and finished the year with a 4-9 record and 4.49 ERA. He made $438,000 last year.

Not since Eric Hillman in 1993 had a Major League pitcher won four games
or less in a season when they posted a 4.50 ERA or less over at least
140 innings. Just three others besides Hillman had pulled off that feat
since 1985: Larry McWilliams and Zane Smith in 1989, and John Dopson in
1988. Galarraga was the first American League pitcher to do it since
Frank Tanana in 1981.

Galarraga’s puzzling 2010 season came two years after he came out of an
obscure minor-league trade with Texas to lead the Tigers in victories in
2008, going 13-7 with a 3.73 ERA. He has gone 10-19 in the two seasons
since, seen his walk-to-strikeout ratio deterioriate and struggle to
pound the strike zone with the same effective he enjoyed as a rookie.

The Tigers have not gone to an arbitration hearing with a player since
Dave Dombrowski took over as general manager in 2002. Galarraga’s
agreement, on the heels of a two-year contract for Ryan Raburn and a
one-year deal for Joel Zumaya earlier in the month, means that streak
will continue for another year.

– Jason Beck

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