While Galarraga was long expected to become eligible for arbitration despite having less than three full seasons in the big leagues, it surprisingly wasn't even close. This year, players with at least two years and 122 days of Major League service time became eligible for arbitration. Galarraga has two years and 148 days.
By rule, the MLB Players Association determines each year the cutoff level for players to qualify as Super Two, equating to the top 17 percent of players with between two and three seasons of service time and at least 86 days of service in the most current season. But compared to last season, when the cutoff level was two years and 139 days, this year's level was much lower.
The difference between those two marks means little for the Tigers, who were already expecting Galarraga to be eligible. But that doesn't make their decision on him any easier.
When Tigers manager Jim Leyland and team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski were talking about next year's rotation a month ago, Galarraga's name was notably absent from the list of projected starters. The top three of Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello were there, as was soon-to-be converted reliever Phil Coke. Galarraga, meanwhile, was among those in the mix for the lone opening.
Whether or not he wins a spot, Galarraga is now in line for a pay raise through arbitration. And while he picked up just four wins in a 2010 season that remained frustrating long after the perfect-game bid was over, Galarraga had a selection of strong secondary numbers. His struggles in the win column came about in part from run support, including six quality starts after the All-Star break that did not go as victories.
The Tigers have left open the possibility of adding another starter, either from the free-agent market or through a trade. If that happens, it could raise a very pertinent question whether the Tigers offer him arbitration or try to trade him. But with baseball's non-tender date now moved up to Dec. 2, just before baseball's Winter Meetings, they might not have enough time to know for sure what their rotation will look like before deciding, especially if they're looking for mid- to lower-rotation starters.
It's an odd situation for someone who was the toast of the town in June and a part of the rotation for much of the final five months of the season, and it's far from perfect.