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detroit tigers logoReflecting the new normal of baseball contracts, 10 years and $292 million for Miguel Cabrera doesn’t really shake the ground anymore, does it?

According to multiple reports, the Detroit Tigers are set to extend superstar first baseman Miguel Cabrera on a 10-year deal worth around $292 million. He’s already under control for two more years, so this is eight years tacked on, even though this new deal will supersede those two remaining years and become a new 10-year contract. The new money is about $248 million, or about $31 million annually. That sounds about right, generally speaking.

… but is it wise? Miguel Cabrera is inarguably one of the two best players in baseball right now, but the Tigers already had him under control for the next two years at just $22 million per year. He’s entering his age 31 season, meaning they’d have him for 31 and 32. Is 33 through 40 really worth $31 million annually, especially when considering that you’re guaranteeing all of that money two years in advance?

In other words, this deal will probably look great for the first few, but the Tigers already had two of those years. It’s not at all hard to see this one becoming a disaster by Cabrera’s mid-30s (as pretty much every deal like this seems to – not that there are a ton of precedents). I’m not necessarily railing on the contract here; I just don’t see the upside.

I know what the response is: if the Tigers wanted to lock down four or five years beyond the next two, Cabrera wasn’t going to do a mere five-year extension. It was probably this or nothing. But I can’t help but think they’d be better off in the long-run letting Cabrera walk after 2015. I guess we’ll see what happens.

At $7 million per win (I’m assuming some inflation over the life of the deal), Cabrera needs to total about 35.5 WAR from ages 33 through 40 for this deal to be worth it. If we peg Cabrera for 6 wins in 2016 (he’s been at 6.2, 6.7, 6.8 and 7.6 over the last four years, so that sounds about right three years from now), and then generously discount just 0.5 wins each year thereafter, he totals 34 wins over the eight years tacked on in this deal.

  • Jon

    If the Tigers win the World Series the next couple of years it won’t count because it wasn’t efficient enough

    • bbmoney

      I disagree with that. WS victories always count. I’m surprised to hear you say this….it’s not an opinion I’ve ever heard anyone else ever share…..

      • brains

        i think he’s being sarcastic. even if detroit wins the world series in 6 years with his bat, the boards here would complain in year 9 of his contract because he only hits 280 with 24 homers and is 1 WAR under salary equivalency, because the most important thing is value and ownership profit, not long term team stability, which is what his contract provides, expensive or not.

        • bbmoney

          He was being sarcastic? Are you shitting me?

          • brains

            yes he was. i am always entirely serious with my posts.

          • bbmoney

            I mean I had no idea. Given Jon’s usually lines on here I was sure he was 100% serious and he wasn’t doing his usually over the top crap of taking general, solid principals and ideas and taking them to ridiculous extremes in an effort to either be “funny” or just plain ridiculous.

            I’m shocked…. shocked I tell you. Just like I’m shocked by the ridiculous extremes you’ve used in your response. Shocked Brains. Totally floored.

            • Fishin Phil

              Right about here is where Darth should insert photo of E-Trade Baby’s “Shocked Face”.

        • Head and Heart

          Literally no one on this board thinks that way “brains”. All we care about is the Cubs winning a World Series. We just believe, rightly or wrongly, that the best way to get from where we were two years ago to where we want to go is by building in an efficient cost effective manner. A WS is extremely difficult to win. It’s basically a lightning in a bottle type thing. Every team fails in their goal every year except one. So the best way to maximize the chances of winning a WS is to be a consistently good team. In the playoffs year in and year out. To do that you need financial flexibility. You need prospects. You need to make smart moves with trades and free agency. I am very much looking forward to a point when I feel like the Cubs spending money could put them over the top and if they don’t spend money at that point I will be upset.

          • brains

            if the recent cubs woes have led to no one thinking that way *anymore* then i might accept this comment. sometimes these kinds of logics work by default, in which no player ever meets the bill because of minor projection concerns, a statistical anomaly that someone finds on the internet, that “the plan” and its advertisements have told you to stay put for now because their genius is so deep that years of inactivity are actually some kind of strategy that will bring salvation to our hopeless lives…. but inevitably the tide always comes once contracts come into question, and swallows the tortoise.

            • Head and Heart

              I knew I should not have taken the bait. I loathe myself right now.

              • brains

                :)

            • gocatsgo2003

              Do you ever get tired of posting the same thing over and over?

              • brains

                i just have my role in our big game of hide the beanbag

                • gocatsgo2003

                  You do? Who was it that granted that responsibility to you?

        • ssckelley

          “i think he’s being sarcastic. even if detroit wins the world series in 6 years with his bat, the boards there would complain in year 9 of his contract because he only hits 280 with 24 homers and is 1 WAR under salary equivalency, because the most important thing is value and ownership profit, not long term team stability, which is what his contract provides, expensive or not.”

          FIFY

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      No – if the Tigers win the World Series in the next two years, it will say nothing at all about this extension, since he was already under control for those two years.

      You were trying to be a smartass, but you ended up being half right.

      • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

        Ha, just for his comment I hope they win one in the next 2 years then fall off the face of the earth.

        • brains

          honestly i kind of like the tigers – their top players are super elite. and they’re good at bringing in role players to keep things going. unlike the yanks, redsox, angels, etc, i wouldn’t mind seeing their version of a big market team winning. they’re just stocked with talent and have good team chemistry. what i’d really like to see is tampa win, though they’re on the verge of a decline after this year.

      • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

        The Tigers shouldn’t have signed him. Now that he has all that money, he isn’t going to be motivated to play baseball.

        I predict a -5 WAR season out of him this year.

  • BABIP

    He’s being sarcastic.

    • BABIP

      that was to brains

  • Diehardthefirst

    Memo to Bud- your bright idea to open in Australia could cost Dodgers and MLB Kershaw given back stiffened on long flight- way to go

    • ssckelley

      which profile name is Bud on here?

  • fromthemitten

    This deal is a matter of pride. Unless he starts undergoing the Mr. Burns treatment, I doubt Mike Illitch lives to see the end of this contract, so he probably doesn’t care. He may fleece an already bankrupt town in stadium deals, but damn I have to say he puts all that money back into his teams. He turned the dead wings into hands down the best NHL franchise over the past 20 years (they haven’t missed the playoffs since the first Bush Administration–injuries may cost them this year). The Tigers are ranked 22nd in franchise value yet have the fifth highest payroll. He already has held the cup 4 times, now he wants a World Series title to complete his legacy.

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