Robertson, Tigers avoid arbitration, agree to contract

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

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

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

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