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 Tigers look to re-sign Inge, Peralta for 2011

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PostSubject: Tigers look to re-sign Inge, Peralta for 2011   Sun Oct 03, 2010 6:03 pm

Tigers look to re-sign Inge, Peralta
By Jason Beck / MLB.com | 10/03/10 3:30 PM ET

BALTIMORE -- Monday starts what could be the biggest offseason of changes since 2003, but the Tigers might be close to retaining the left side of their infield. Team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said on Sunday that the team has made a contract offer to third baseman Brandon Inge and would like to bring back infielder Jhonny Peralta, either through a new contract or by picking up his option.

"We'd like to have him back," Dombrowski said of Inge.

Dombrowski made the comments during a wide-ranging interview with beat writers on Sunday morning that he usually does near the end of each season. With more than $60 million coming off the payroll this offseason in expiring contracts and potentially a half-dozen free agents, this year's remarks were highly anticipated.

Not all of the Tigers up for free agency will be back, and Dombrowski and manager Jim Leyland bid farewell to at least two of them on Sunday. Inge and Peralta appear to have a good shot to be back.

"We have made him an offer," Dombrowski said of Inge, "and we'll see if we can get something done."

Inge and Peralta are both represented by agents Seth and Sam Levinson, whose firm includes former Major League player Keith Miller. Dombrowski said team vice president/legal counsel John Westhoff has talked with them within the last couple of days about both players. Inge is a free agent, while Peralta has a $7.25-million option for next season.

The Tigers have exclusive negotiating rights with their free agents until five days after the end of the World Series. The fact that talks are picking up now doesn't mean they'll get something done by then, but it's an encouraging sign.

Inge is the longest-tenured current Tiger, drafted in 1998 and called up to Detroit in 2001, and the 33-year-old All-Star probably generates the most emotion -- on both sides -- of any player on the team. Between his longevity, his visibility in the community and his highlight defense at third, he's arguably the most popular player on the club. He's also a major presence in the clubhouse, having unintentionally emerged as a team leader.

His range at third ranks him among the best defensive players at his position, and a major favorite among Tigers pitchers. Balancing that out, though, are his offensive struggles, including a .247 average entering Sunday's season finale that would still rank as his highest since 2006. His 13th home run and 60th RBI of the season opened Detroit's scoring on Sunday.

"I think with Brandon, you have to know what you have in a player," Dombrowski said. "First of all, he's an outstanding defensive third baseman. We all know he's a gamer. He gives you everything he can. He represents what you want on the field. He never leaves an ounce of anything behind out there.

"He gives you some offense. I don't think you write down Brandon Inge as coming out and hitting 25 home runs and knocking in 100 runs all of a sudden. I think you have to look at the numbers he's put up and figure that's probably the type of hitter you have. If he gives you more, that's great."

Inge has made no secret that he wants to remain a Tiger. He and his family moved to Michigan full-time this year, and he has said they'll continue to call it home -- even if he plays somewhere else. He's believed to be seeking a three-year contract, but he and the Tigers could find some common ground with a two-year offer.

The Tigers traded for Peralta at the end of July as a short-term replacement for the then-injured Inge at third, believing he could play at short part-time once Inge came back. His play at short over the last two months has convinced team officials he can play there full-time, and they've talked with Peralta about an offseason workout program designed for that.

"We're looking to sign him as our shortstop," Dombrowski said. "He wants to play shortstop. We've already had internal discussions. We're very happy with him. We know what he has. He's got great hands. He's got a real solid arm. His range is below average, and he catches what he gets to. He drives in runs for a shortstop.

"We've gone the defensive route, just defense. We're looking for a little bit more offense. Maybe our lineup stretches out a little bit more. We're also in a position where he wants to try to get in a little bit better shape for the middle of the diamond."

Peralta entered Sunday batting .254 with eight home runs and 38 RBIs in 56 games as a Tiger. He added a single and a run on Sunday. The negotiations would seemingly indicate the Tigers would like to work out a new contract rather than pick up the option, but Dombrowski wouldn't rule out the latter.
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