Detroit Tigers: Why the Hot Stove Season is Cold Right Now

By this time last year, the Detroit Tigers were busy signing players like Jordan Zimmermann and Cameron Maybin.

This year, Detroit Tigers fans are waiting impatiently for something to happen. But, it isn’t the fault of the team or Al Avila.

The cold Hot Stove season is due to the current issues with the MLB’s collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

According to Chris McCosky with The Detroit News, it’s not just the Tigers who are waiting on the labor agreement to happen. There are plenty of big names just sitting…and waiting…and waiting.

Those big names include players like Yoenis Cespedes, Aroldis Chapman, and Jose Bautista who are waiting as free agents for someone to sign them. The labor agreement is also stalling the Tigers from making any interesting trades that could free up some salary space.

Beware the Luxury Tax Threshold

Sep 30, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Francisco Rodriguez (57) and left fielder Justin Upton (8) celebrate a victory against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. The Tigers defeated the Braves 6-2. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

One of the big issues with the upcoming CBA is the luxury tax threshold. In the previous agreement, the threshold was $189 million. Some are predicting that the newest threshold will be over $200 million. This threshold is what is keeping many teams from making any moves in the Hot Stove season.

The luxury tax is a penalty that teams pay for going over a set amount of money. In the current CBA, which expires on December 1, this is the penalty for exceeding the luxury tax: “The tax rate will decrease to 17.5% for Clubs that exceed the threshold for the first time, and the rate will increase to 50% for Clubs that exceed the threshold for the fourth time or more. Rates will remain the same for Clubs that exceed the threshold for the second time (30%) and third time (40%).”

As soon as the luxury threshold is announced and agreed upon, it is safe to expect teams to begin spending. The teams that are waiting to make big moves are those with big budgets, like the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Boston Red Sox, and the Chicago Cubs. While the Tigers are looking to cut payroll, Avila will still pay close attention to team’s proximity to the luxury tax threshold. The Tigers did exceed $189 million in 2016 as the team began the season with a payroll over $198 million.

What Does This Mean for the Tigers?

What the Tigers are waiting for is a big team to take on one or more of the big contracts. No one will take on Miguel Cabrera, Justin Verlander, Ian Kinsler, or J.D. Martinez if that contract will move the team over the threshold at the lower rate.

McCosky also reported that the new CBA will most likely no longer have the free agent qualifying offer. This could also affect teams that want to add players like Ian Kinsler or J.D. Martinez. Both men only have one more year on their contracts, so they will not be guaranteed additions in 2018 for any team that might want to sign them for 2017.

As it stands for the Tigers, the team is still quite complete, even with the questions at centerfield. This leaves Al Avila in a good position entering into the Winter Meetings. Even if he does get offers on his players, he can wait until the perfect offer comes around.

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