Injury clouds Ordonez's future in Detroit

The broken ankle sustained by Magglio Ordonez  on Saturday will almost certainly result in him filing for free agency after this season, putting in doubt his future with an organization he sent to the World Series in 2006.

The Tigers announced that Ordonez, who broke his right ankle trying to score from first on Miguel Cabrera's third-inning double against the Blue Jays, will miss six to eight weeks as a result of the injury. Even if he returns on the optimistic end of that projection, only about 25 games will remain in the regular season.

That won’t be enough time for him to achieve the vesting thresholds on his $15 million club option for 2011.

Let’s go over the math.

The option will be guaranteed if he meets one of the following two conditions:

• 135 starts or 540 plate appearances in 2010

• 270 starts or 1,080 plate appearances in 2009 and 2010

At this point, here are his numbers:

• 84 starts and 365 plate appearances in 2010

• 207 starts and 883 plate appearances in 2009 and 2010

Ordonez, 36, was having a solid season as the Tigers’ No. 3 hitter. His overall production was better than it had been last year; his OPS was .847, up from .804 last season. He was batting .301 with 12 home runs and 59 RBIs

Had he remained healthy, Ordonez might have guaranteed himself a spot on next year’s team. Instead, he probably lost a sure $15 million with one slide into home plate.

Ordonez will likely become a free agent this winter. In a market that hasn’t been kind to sluggers in their mid-30s, he will probably earn considerably less than the $15 million he was due to receive.

The Tigers will be left with more payroll flexibility. But they won’t celebrate that fact – not with one of their most popular players in pain, and not with their 2010 postseason hopes in jeopardy.

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