Robertson, Tigers avoid arbitration, agree to contract

Updated: January 16, 2008, 6:03 PM ET
Associated Press

DETROIT -- Nate Robertson pitched for the Detroit Tigers when they lost an AL-record 119 games in 2003.

Nate Robertson

Robertson

Starting Pitcher
Detroit Tigers

Profile

2007 Season Stats
GM W L BB K ERA
30 9 13 63 119 4.76

After Robertson helped the Tigers become serious contenders, they decided to keep him around for what appears to be a bright future.

The left-handed starter and Detroit avoided salary arbitration when they agreed Wednesday to a $21.25 million, three-year contract. He would have been eligible for free agency after the 2009 season.

"It's exciting to see what kind of team we have in place here, understanding where we've come from," Robertson said. "I think we have three guys left from '03, so there aren't too many faces still around, but I'm glad I'm one of them."

Robertson was 9-13 with a 4.76 ERA in 30 starts with Detroit last season, his fourth straight with at least 30 starts.

"Nate has been a quality starter during his time with the Tigers," team president Dave Dombrowski said. "We are excited to sign Nate to a long-term contract, and we look forward to him being part of our rotation for years to come."

Robertson gets $4.25 million this year, $7 million in 2009 and $10 million in 2010. His salary in the final season would increase to $11 million if he pitches 200 innings in 2009 or 400 innings combined in 2008 and 2009.

"It still hasn't hit me," Robertson said. "You're talking about a Kansas boy who went out and cut fire wood. Now, I'm playing baseball with a contract that sets my family up."

Robertson and his wife, who live in the Detroit area during the offseason, are expecting their first child soon.

"The timing has been perfect," he said.

Robertson made his major league debut with the Florida Marlins in 2002, then was dealt to Detroit in a five-player deal in January 2003. He lost one game in his only decision for the Marlins and is 42-54 with a 4.53 ERA with the Tigers.

His best season was 2006, when he was 13-13 with a 3.84 ERA and helped Detroit reach the playoffs for the first time since 1987. He won a game in the AL championship series, playing a key role as the Tigers made it to the World Series for the first time since 1984.

Robertson will pitch in a strong rotation that also includes Justin Verlander, Dontrelle Willis, Kenny Rogers and Jeremy Bonderman.

The Tigers have had a busy offseason, trading for All-Stars Miguel Cabrera, Willis and Edgar Renteria, and acquiring Jacque Jones in another trade. They also re-signed Rogers and closer Todd Jones, and exercised their option on catcher Ivan Rodriguez's contract.

"We're excited to be here and be part of the best team that I probably will ever be part of," Robertson said.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press