BALTIMORE -- Magglio Ordonez's season-ending ankle injury might not mean the end of his Tigers tenure after all. Though team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski confirmed the club will not pick up Ordonez's $15-million option, he left the door open for the Tigers to re-sign him as a free agent.
"That will not close the door by any means," Dombrowski said of the decision. "For us, he is definitely a possibility."
The interest is mutual. Dombrowski confirmed what Miguel Cabrera said last week, that Ordonez has a "strong desire to remain a Tiger."
That sets the stage for what could be an interesting offseason saga. While the interest is there on both sides, negotiations likely won't be easy. Ordonez was on track for a potential 100-RBI season, batting .303 with 12 home runs and 59 RBIs, before fracturing his ankle on a slide at home plate on July 24. He had already surpassed most of his numbers from 2009, but was on the verge of much more.
Ordonez is expected to be ready for next season, but nobody can say with confidence how strong his ankle will be -- even with a full offseason to recover. He'll turn 37 years old just before Spring Training next year. And the early-season struggles of rookie Scott Sizemore this year showed that even young bodies can take time to heel from fractures such as his.
Ordonez is represented by agent Scott Boras, who has been known for taking negotiations on free-agent clients deep into the offseason. The Tigers had a late signing with Boras last year when they inked Johnny Damon, whose on-and-off flirtation with the Yankees lasted most of the winter before he agreed to a deal with Detroit in mid-February.
"I don't think Magglio is going to be a quick [signing]," Dombrowski said. "I don't really put that as high for us. You look at our positional players, and if we've got Brandon [Inge] and Jhonny Peralta done, well, your infield's pretty well set. You know what you're getting catcher-wise. You've got a couple of your outfield spots filled. You know what you're looking for in your outfield. But we'll explore what other opportunities are out there, and Magglio coming off of his [injury] situation.
"He's also represented by somebody not normally akin to making fast deals. It comes with the territory."