NOAH TRISTER, AP Baseball Writer
DETROIT (AP) — The Tigers are on their way to paying baseball’s luxury tax for a second consecutive season.
Detroit general manager Al Avila says spending will be curtailed in future years.
“Everybody knows what our payroll is. It’s over 200 million dollars. This will be the second year that we go over the luxury tax,” Avila said. “We certainly are not going to go over the luxury tax a third year, because the penalties are just too severe — not to mention paying the actual luxury tax in actual cash dollars. It will just keep on going up. We’re going to obviously avoid that.”
Avila spoke Thursday at a Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association event. Although the Tigers have largely kept their team together this offseason, his comments underscored the Detroit team that takes the field in 2018 could look a lot different.
The luxury tax threshold is $195 million for 2017 and $197 million for 2018. A team that is over the boundary for a third consecutive season would owe a 50 percent tax on the amount exceeding the threshold — not including any possible surtaxes that could kick in.
By contrast, Detroit’s tax rate last season was 17.5 percent. The Tigers, one of a record six teams paying the luxury tax, owed $4 million.
Detroit’s payroll was around $212 million for tax purposes — only the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees had higher figures.
The Tigers should have plenty of ways they can cut payroll after the 2017 season. Detroit has team options for 2018 on second baseman Ian Kinsler and right-hander Anibal Sanchez, while outfielder J.D. Martinez, right-hander Mike Pelfrey and closer Francisco Rodriguez can become free agents.
The Tigers did make one move this offseason that pared down their payroll a bit, trading Cameron Maybin to the Los Angeles Angels, who then exercised his $9 million option for 2017. Maybin hit .315 last season, but his injury history was a concern.
“He had a great year, probably the best year that he’s had in his entire career. But if you look at his entire career, those numbers, that’s a one-year number,” Avila said. “Based on the injury history and the risk of the contract, we felt that we would pass.”
The Tigers acquired outfielder Mikie Mahtook in a trade last week with Tampa Bay. Detroit is hoping Mahtook can help upgrade the team’s defense.
NOTES: Avila said RHP Jordan Zimmermann is “100 percent healthy” after neck problems derailed his 2016 season. … Avila said DH Victor Martinez was dealing with a hernia last season. “It wasn’t like one of those, what you call a sports hernia, that would keep him out,” Avila said. “It’s more of like a hernia that we might get, and he was able to play through it. So he had that taken care of in the offseason.”
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