As most of you know by now, whether or not Magglio Ordonez returns to the Tigers at an $18 million dollar salary next years depends on whether he reaches playing time incentives. If he starts 135 games or accumulates 540 at bats this year, then his contract option for 2010 automatically vests. Similarly, if he starts 270 games or reaches 1,080 plate appearances in 2008 and 2009 combined, then he'll be back next year.
Right now, Magglio is at 982 plate appearances for 2008 and 2009 combined which leaves him just 98 short of the 1,080 mark. He is playing regularly again too so, unless he gets hurt, his option will almost certainly vest. He is batting just .267 with a .696 OPS for the season which makes him one of the worst right fielders in Major League Baseball. He is hitting somewhat better as of late batting .295/.338/.459 in the last 17 games but that's still not very good for a corner outfielder, especially one who lacks defensive skills.
Marcus Thames seems to be a better option with his .257/.328/.508 line for the season. He also has hit right-handers better - a .796 OPS for Thames versus .623 OPS for Ordonez. For whatever reason, Dave Dombrowski has not released Ordonez and Jim Leyland prefers playing Ordonez to Thames. Maybe, Illitch won't eat the contract or maybe Magglio is playing due to team chemisty or maybe they are still holding out hope that he will revert to form the last two months. Regardless, I think we should get used to the fact that Ordonez is going to play regularly this year and be a Tiger again next year. Hopefully, he can accumulate just enough bloop singles to help them into the playoffs this year.