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Tigers' Verlander files for arbitration

Tigers' Verlander files for arbitration

DETROIT -- The Tigers and ace Justin Verlander moved one step closer to an arbitration meeting Friday, when Verlander and three other eligible Tigers filed for arbitration.

The moves at Friday's filing deadline are essentially procedural for arbitration-eligible players such as Verlander and teammates Gerald Laird, Zach Miner and Bobby Seay. The next step would be for players and teams to exchange salary figures next Tuesday.

Players and teams can settle at any point before a hearing, which would be scheduled for sometime in February. Once a hearing takes place and each side presents its case, the arbiter must decide on one figure or the other.

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Clearly, the Tigers would rather avoid a hearing, and they've done a very good job at doing so over the years since general manager Dave Dombrowski arrived in Detroit. The Tigers haven't gone to a hearing for a player since 2002.

In Verlander's case, the Tigers would very much prefer to avoid a contentious arbitration. His 19 wins tied for the Major League lead to go with league-leading totals of 240 innings and 269 strikeouts. Not since Mickey Lolich in 1971 had a Tiger fanned that many batters.

Verlander is eligible for arbitration for the second time, having settled late in the process last year. He could be eligible for free agency after the 2011 season, and his contract status is one of the more closely-watched situations among young players in baseball.

Ideally, the Tigers would like to sign Verlander for the long term, though Dombrowski won't comment on any negotiations or even confirm talks. They could end up agreeing to a one-year deal, then visiting a long-term contract later in the offseason or further in the year. The Tigers did that with Miguel Cabrera two years ago before agreeing to an eight-year contract late in Spring Training.

Laird is eligible for arbitration for a third time, and the second time as a Tiger after arriving via trade from Texas last winter. Though he batted just .225 with four home runs and 33 RBIs last year, he made his bigger impact behind the plate, where he led the Majors by throwing out 42-of-101 would-be basestealers.

Seay, a second-time eligible player, went 6-3 with a 4.25 ERA over a career-high 67 appearances for Detroit. The lefty actually allowed a lower batting average to right-handed hitters (.239) than left-handed ones (.261), but opponents put up a lower OPS (.688) from the left side than the right (.715).

Miner becomes eligible for the first time after spending the last two-plus seasons as a swingman on Detroit's pitching staff. He started last year in the rotation as an injury replacement before eventually settling into a middle-inning relief role. The combined efforts yielded a 7-5 record with one save and a 4.29 ERA over 92 1/3 innings.

Two other arbitration-eligible Tigers have settled this year. Infielder Ramon Santiago signed a two-year contract last month, and Joel Zumaya agreed to a one-year deal earlier this week.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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