Detroit Tigers reliever Phil Coke may not be tendered a contract in the offseason as the team could prefer to let him leave in free agency rather than pay him in arbitration, writes Chris Iott of MLive.com.
Coke earned $1.85 in arbitration for the 2013 season. Because it is extremely rare for a players salary to decrease in arbitration, he will likely earn over $2 million next year if the team actually offers Coke a contract and they enter a hearing.
That type of salary may not be worth it for the Tigers. Coke has not been particularly impressive since coming over in a three-team trade prior to the 2010 season. Often working as a left-handed specialist, Coke has posted a 4.34 ERA and 1.52 WHIP overall in his time with the Tigers. His 2013 season was particularly poor. Over 49 appearances, he had a 5.40 ERA and 1.67 WHIP while demonstrating poor control.
Coke is one of nine arbitration-eligible Tigers. There has been speculation that the team is nearing the top of their payroll limitations, but there are also rumors they could go after outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury in free agency. Removing Coke from the roster could be one way the team could get more payroll flexibility.