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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.

  • Diehardthefirst

    Wonder what he eats for breakfast? Hope it’s not Braun flakes

    • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

      oh my what a horribly bad pun

  • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

    Well there goes Max Scherzer money?

    And wow thats a huge albatross to carry out for ten years, I guess it worth it if the Tigers win the World Series but if they don’t in the next few years this will hurt.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      If they win it in 2014 or 2015, it won’t justify the deal since they already had him. They need to be a great team in 2016 through 2018, at least, in order to justify this.

  • Diehardthefirst

    If Giants really interested in dealing could lose Emilio before season which drops Cubs to likely 68-70 wins

  • bbmoney

    The per year value is fine. He’s worth it now and has a good chance to be for several years. But damn. The Tiger’s just unloaded Prince Fielder on what looked like a really bad l-t deal and then lock a guy who has less than a perfect body up until he’s 40?

    I don’t know. There’s too much downside risk and not enough surplus value for me to like this deal from the teams perspective. Their window was still open for a couple years anyway as he was still a tiger for 2 more years.

  • Patrick G

    Guess that means Scherzer is gone

  • blublud

    Another reason WAR is dumb. Miguel Cabrera is the best baseball player in the world, trying to equate his salary to to WAR won’t work. This is nothing but smart for the Tigers. As a free agent, maybe not a good deal. But resigning your own guy, it’s definitely worth it.

    • jp3

      War is dumb

    • Karl Groucho
    • half_full_beer_mug

      Cubs new motto make LOB not WAR

      • Karl Groucho

        Awesome.

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

      The dumbest part of this extension is that the Tigers had control over Cabrera for the next two years, capturing all of Cabrera’s years before decline.

      Now they get to pay extra for those years AND pay him for another 8 years.

      • blublud

        They’ve had Cabrera at a discount the last several years, nothing wrong with rewarding his performance.

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

          I wonder if, when he is 38 and struggling to play 130 games a year, he will be so generous as to defer a portion of his salary.

          • blublud

            He already did that by playing for what he’s been playing for the last few years. He is worth much more than 21 mil a year.

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

              Yes, he is so generous. I mean, normal people wouldn’t honor their end of a contract in that situation.

              The Tigers signed him because they want him in 2016 and 2017. In order to get those years, Cabrera wanted years 2017 through 2023.

              The only loyalty in baseball is the loyalty that is convenient to both sides.

              • SenorGato

                So why is the player the bad guy here? Why should he defer his money?

                There is a man who is fine and capable of paying Cabrera that money without losing any sleep. The guy’s arguably the best player in baseball, is the best hitter in baseball, and has been an elite one for a decade now. That’s worth a lot of money, and there’s no worries about our friends, the owners, losing out on the deal.

                • okiecubhawk

                  The player isn’t the bad guy. Good for Cabrera. The bad guy (or stupid guy if you prefer) is the GM or Owner that ok’d this deal. I am a huge Dallas Cowboy fan and I have to say this is the kind of deal that Jerry Jones would have made. The Cowboys are ALWAYS in cap hell and as a result they have to band aid a .500 roster together year after year. You would think that eventually these owners and GM’s would wise up.

                • ssckelley

                  I did not get the impression Hans was trying to say Cabrera was the bad guy. Mainly neither side was doing this deal as a friendly gesture. The Tigers are not going to go back and pay him more money for years he out performed his contract while Cabrera will probably not defer his money when he is not producing at his contract level.

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

                    This.

    • Funn Dave

      Stats aside, I don’t see this as a good deal at all. I can just see him, ten–hell, eight–hell, six years from now, steadily declining, with a contract too damn large to trade away, disillusioned, as his team can’t afford to put a great team around what was once a key component.

      Or maybe they gave him such a long, pricey contract because they know that Detroit will basically be a post-apocalyptic wasteland by the end of his contract anyway.

  • bbmoney

    And reportedly two vesting options at 30M apiece.

    Don’t know what needs to happen for them to vest…but damn.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    From a National League point of view it seems like an Albatross, but with the DH in play he can give them a lot of offensive production for most of the years of that contract. Guys with triple crown credentials don’t come around often. And it would seem that this makes it an almost certainty that Scherzer hits FA.

    • bbmoney

      That’s what they said about A-Rods second deal and Pujols contract too. It helps….but still.

      • half_full_beer_mug

        I can see him playing well into age 37 easily, but I do agree that the last three might be hard to watch as a Tiger fan.

        • bbmoney

          Sure. I can easily see that. I could even see a situation where he’s quite good until he’s 40. But I can just as easily see him hitting a wall at 34 and his body betraying him (he didn’t exactly stay healthy last year).

          There’s just a lot of downside to sign a guy who’s turning 31 in April and can only handle 1b or DH and was still 2 years away from FA. It could work, it just didn’t seem necessary…yet.

  • http://www.survivingthalia.com Mike Taylor

    David Ortiz is proof that hitters have value in the AL. I’m sure the Tigers’ll target free agent Chris Davis to play 1B in 2016 and have Cabrera DH full time. They’d know what they have in Castellanos by then, V-Mart and Scherzer will be gone…

  • Norm

    Hilarious deal. Worst in baseball immediately. And no reason for them to do it yet.

    • Coldneck

      Yes, just awful. Why not wait 12 more months?? This deal is hideous and one the Tigers are going to regret very soon. What happens if Mike Ilitch dies (he’s 84) and the new owner isn’t willing to lost millions every year trying to win a World Series. The just got out from under Fielder’s albatross deal and now they get right back into another one.

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

        Odds are if Cabrera wasn’t signed this year, he would have waited for free agency.

        • Coldneck

          And letting him go to some other sucker while receiving an extra draft pick would have been the right play.

          • Jon

            Yes, let him go hit 30+ HRs for the next six or seven years and getting a draft pick back that won’t amount to 1/10th of the player Cabrera is certainly would have been the right play

            • brains

              yeah cause that draft pick might turn into….miguel cabrera…. but more importantly he’ll be cheap.

              keith law hates it, though he didn’t bother to show up at the roundtable. he probably hadn’t showered in a few weeks.

              http://insider.espn.go.com/blog/keith-law/post?id=2124

              • Norm

                Everyone who has an ounce of logic in their thinking hates it.

            • Norm

              Are you talking about Cabrera?
              Or Pujols, Teixeira, Fielder, F. Thomas, Albert Belle, Mo Vaughn or any other similar player that had the same thing said about them?

              • Brocktoon

                I’m not sure Frank Thomas, who was a productive hitter through his age 39 season is exactly the best example.

        • nick5253

          “Odds are if Cabrera wasn’t signed this year, he would have waited for free agency.”

          If that was the case, let him hit free agency and then out bid everyone else. Is there any way he’d make more than an 8yr 248 mil deal at that point? What is the risk?

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

            I don’t disagree. He is going to be a very special player for the next 3-4 years.

          • Brocktoon

            I think he exceeds that in FA, but not so much that it’s worth the risk to lock him up now.

    • brains

      i disagree. he’s the face of the franchise, extremely durable, actually the age he claims he is, continues to improve not decline, and will help younger players come up when he’s older. this guy will hit into his late 30s no problem.

      we, on the other hand, have absolutely nothing at all except an unhealthy amount of expectations for a bunch of minor leaguers, of which by odds only a couple will pan out. these guys are investing, we’re fencing our players like watches and claiming it to be meaningful. luckily most of you guys are pawn stars fans.

      • brains

        the team has business logic. but you guys have defeatist logic. the logic of losers who are too comfortable losing. you have to invest in a business to make it work. that means expenditures, like the trail end of an otherwise great contract. why don’t you guys ever think like good business?

        • Jason P

          nah

        • mjhurdle

          I called the last job I worked at where I outperformed the contracted work I was hired to do and explained that they were being defeatist by not continuing to pay me now, even though I am not providing them any value.
          For some reason they did not agree with your assertion.

        • Funn Dave

          Hahhaha. For better or for worse, this site has far more business articles than your average baaseball website. So I’m not sure where your insult comes from. What’s more, spending a shit-ton of money on a risky investment that will appease some fans in the short term (while perplexing just as many others) only to pointlessly drain money in the long term is not a good business decision.

      • Norm

        Disagree all you want. Whenever you read about bad contracts in the future, this one will come up #1 almost every time.

      • ssckelley

        Leave it to you to take an opinion not Cub related and turn it into a bash on the front office and us fans.

        There is a lot of optimism for some of the prospects coming up but I don’t know anybody on here who has been promoting the idea that the Cubs should solely use the minor leagues to build the major league team. Can you point these fans out to me that have “an unhealthy amount of expectations for a bunch of minor leaguers” so I can flame them?

  • ssckelley

    That is an insane amount of money to pay for someone on the wrong side of 40. In 5 years people are going to look back on this and say wtf were they thinking?

    • ssckelley

      Wrong side of 30

  • Caleb

    One, *I* am turning 31 in April, so I don’t like this “body betray/it’s-all-downhill” talk.

    Two, I know Dollars/WAR is rough at best, but don’t forget to add in other factors–how important is Ortiz to the Red Sox?

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

      I hit 30 and my body started to complain.

      I hit 31 and my body is in full on, Crimean Peninsula revolution. Let’s hope that it decides to align itself with Kaley Cuoco.

      • Caleb

        No way. I’m aiming for the Enlightenment. Or, if you prefer, the Benjamin Buttons of physical strength…sort of.

    • Darth Ivy

      I turn 30 this year. Time to start looking for places at Del Boca Vista.

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

        I scored some sweet black socks on Amazon. Should compliment my sandal collection well.

        • jh03

          Man you guys are old. I turn 30 in about 9 years and 3 months.

          • Fishin Phil

            I have socks older than you.

            • jh03

              Puppets wear socks?

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

              I’ve been wearing the same pair of underwear longer than he’s be alive.

              The more you know.

    • http://bleachernation.com woody

      Relax man, I’m on the wrong side of sixty. I trade places in a heartbeat.

  • Kyle

    Agree with Brett. There’s just no need to lock yourself in to so many downside years *when you already control the next two years*.

    Extension-mania is getting out of control, and teams are overplaying their hand.

  • BlameHendry

    Holy crap. Not at all a logical, rational deal on the Tiger’s part. If I were them I would have just gone all-out over the next two years that they already had him and then just let him walk at age 33. The Tigers are not a poor team but they dont have Yankees/Dodgers money either, and this contract will surely handcuff them in the future. I know he’s arguably the best hitter in baseball right now but I still don’t think he’ll be worth $30 mil a year when he’s 33-40.

    But hey, this pretty much seals the deal on Scherzer hitting the open market. I highly doubt they could afford Verlander, Cabrera, and Scherzer all at once.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

    If you factor in some inflation in the dollar per WAR figure, I can see Detroit getting value out of this. Not excess value, or not much anyway, but value. Like the Soriano contract, when it is over and they look back at the numbers, Detroit fans may well find out it wasn’t as bad as they thought at the time.

    But like Brett said, I don’t get the motivation for Detroit. Why take on a bunch of years of risk for just a few years of reward. This is the third somewhat funny looking move made by the Tigers this winter. If I’m a Tiger fan, I’d be concerned about that as well, I think.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    So after the Fister deal and this can we say Dumb-browsky?

  • Justin

    I completely agree with Brett that there is no upside, and letting him walk after his age 32 season would have been the smart thing to do. I love Miggy and he’s so good, but without helpers players aren’t getting it done in the mid to late 30′s anymore. It just isn’t happening anymore. Pretty stupid..

  • https://www.facebook.com/AnotherSpaceSong Bret Epic

    Cano and Cabrera are six months apart in age and both received 10 year contracts (technically an 8 year extension for Miggy). I don’t think either of them will exactly live up to their contracts, but I think I would rather have Cabrera and his contract than Cano, even though Cabrera’s annual salary is about 5 million more a year.

    • Justin

      I hear ya, but Cabrera was extended and Cano was bought on the open market to a place he more than likely didn’t want to go. So Seattle had to overpay. This deal on the open market for Cabrera is fair for sure. But when you have him for 2 more years why go nuts like this at that age and extend him at such an enormous price? I don’t get it.

  • VittersStartingLF

    As much as I don’t like the Cardinals, they were smart letting Pujois go. They will have a lot of flexibility the next few years. Tigers could of kept Cabrera two more years and let someone else give him obscene contract and been as smart as the Cardinals.

    • Bill

      You mean the Cardinals were lucky Pujols got away. The Cards offered him an insane contract but the Angels went just a little more nuttier. Trust me, Stl Louis fans are very aware of how lucky they were that LAA trumped the Cards offer. At the time, I was pissed LAA made the offer, because I was hoping Stl would sign him and the deal would hamstring Stl from making other moves.

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

    I can’t wait for the day when the Cubs mysteriously extend a 31 year old Baez for 10 years, $500M and we gripe that the Cubs are spending too much money.

    • nick5253

      That would be a wonderful “problem” to have. Hopefully at that point the Cubs are making so much money, the individual contracts signed don’t ‘harm’ future flexibility. I think that is the issue most rational fans have with these contracts. Here in the Twin Cities, some fans hate Joe Mauer (future hall of famer) because he makes ‘too much’ money. Even though he’s living up to the contract, fans feel like the contract is hamstringing other moves (it’s not).

  • Darth Ivy

    You know you’re a Cubs fan when you’re immediate reaction is, “Pay him? Don’t they realize what his trade value is?!”

    • Darth Ivy

      your your your your

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        1 for 2.

  • ssckelley

    A very good night for Trout and his agent.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      I honestly hope Trout goes into free agency without signing any extensions. That bidding war will be the stuff of legends.

      Where would it start? At that age, with his numbers? 14 years, $550 million?

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

        26 year old greatest player of all time?

        We should start a crowd sourcing campaign to make sure he doesn’t sign an arbitration extension.

        • ssckelley

          Just think, Trout is now worth more than than the entire payroll of the Marlins and the Astros.

      • ssckelley

        Pretty soon they will include a partial ownership.

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

          14 years, $400M and 10% of the Cubs upon retirement.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

            Not sure if the CBA allows that.

            • ssckelley

              Your no fun!

              • Funn Dave

                you’re you’re you’re you’re

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

              “Lifetime Services Contract”

  • KHRSS

    Why not just give him a bit more and make it a 6 year contract and pay him till he is 36-37. If he still can produce at DH at that age then give him a new contract then. The most recent examples of A-roid and Pujols show that even superstars numbers decline a couple of years into their 30′s.

    I am sure they will regret this in 2-3 years.

  • 70′s Cub

    1.Tigers are screwed in 4 years.
    2. Yankees can’t get him.
    3. Dodgers can’t get him.
    4. Cubs need to help them win now by trading them Barney and our lefty right fielder for some young pitching.

  • Soda Popinski

    Pretty interesting read on Epstein and Hendry and the Cub’s situation over on ESPN. Check it: http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/10622213/theo-epstein-plans-rebuild-chicago-cubs-blueprint-boston-espn-magazine

    • Soda Popinski

      The highlights include the depths Theo and Co go to secure a scouting advantage, Hedry’s admin was in the stone-age, and some bits on Sveum and Renteria.

    • brains

      delightfully vague, noncommittal, and well branded as confident and patient. give the man credit, he’s building his rep in spite of breaking the team. he’ll do wonders with the yanks salary in a few years when they hire him and fire cashman.

      • Soda Popinski

        I’ll be forever suspect to a man who calls himself brains. Lol. Breaking the team? I’m sure you have so much more insight and knowledge than the execs and writers around the league praising Theo’s work. Now comes the losses over the last few years rebuttal…

        • brains

          how about the losses over the *next few years rebuttal?

    • college_of_coaches

      Great story! Thanks for the link.

  • 5412

    Hi,

    Dumbrowski has a history of questionable deals working out. He signed Pudge Rodriguez to a crazy deal. What the public did not know was he had a bulging disc in his back that could have gone at any time.

    He signed Magglio Ordonez after major medical problems without even seeing a workout.

    Both those deals turned out well despite huge risk.

    He then signs Prince and finds a bigger fool to take him off his hands.

    Not sure if this is not the deal that will bite him back. He could end up like Texas did, eating a ton of money to make him go away in about five years.

    One more point on the aging issue. I believe the top conditioned players could play well into their 40′s. What goes is their eyesight. A few years back I read where the average MLB player has 20-15 vision. When my son played in college his vision was 20-10. He said there were times he could see the seams on the ball. That all changes as you get to 40. Bifocals are where he is today.

    Regards,
    5412

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Actually, it often is not their eyesight that goes, but their bat speed. That in turns causes aging hitters to have to swing sooner: and thus they don’t get to look at the ball for as long as they are used to doing (taking away a fraction of a second from fractions of a second is a big deal!). We say that they are losing their batting eye, but what they really are losing is the time that they get to trigger “swing/don’t swing.” Their actual visual acuity doesn’t need to change at all for this to happen.

      • Bill

        Are you sure it’s bat speed and not eyesight? Maybe it’s both. I remember Jack Nicklaus saying that his eyes were one of the first things to go and he knew it would be struggle to win tournaments. He wore contacts but he said he just couldn’t see the subtle breaks in the greens any longer and so he would miss putts because his misread the breaks.

        I’m not saying you are wrong about bat speed, but I’m not sure declining eyesight doesn’t factor in too. If I’m not seeing the ball well, it means I’d have to let the ball travel further into the hitting zone to pick the pitch up, giving me less time to swing. So, is the real problem declining bat speed or poor eyes giving the hitter less time to react than he had before?

        • FFP

          In other endeavours it has been uncovered that eyesight peaks around age 18. We don’t notice the decline because it is miniscule, at first. But some might. Maybe batters notice, but wrists, hips and quick twitch muscle fibers keep up, until they don’t, 10 or 20 years later. See Stanley, Mike.

  • DocPeterWimsey

    “Cabrera needs to total about 35.5 WAR”

    Although he still might do that, the Tigers have just hurt that possibility by moving Miggy from 3rd to 1st. Last year, the median 1Bman created nearly 20 more runs per year than did the median 3Bman. Thus, if Miggy creates the same number of runs (an astounding 142) in 2014 that he did in 2013, he’ll be adding only approximately 60 runs relative to what you’d expect the other guy’s 1Bman to create. (The Tiger’s pitchers will reduce that when they face the Tigers: but that is their WAR, not Miggy’s.) At 3rd, he created 75 more than the opposing 3Bmen were expected to create: and that’s good for 1-2 more wins. (Note that this is “WAA,” not WAR.)

    I had thought that perhaps moving to 1st would reduce how many runs Miggy gives the other team fielding. However, he was just as awful at 1st in 2011 and 2010 as he was at 3rd in 2012 & 2013: he basically costs the Tigers 1-2 games a year. He doesn’t do it with errors, by the way: he actually gloves what he reaches. He just doesn’t reach much: the trees from Fangorn got to Helm’s Deep faster than Miggy gets to a grounder.

    • Soda Popinski

      A LOTR reference is always a good point-maker. Love it.

    • okiecubhawk

      Question:
      Instead of comparing Cabrera’s WAR at third to his WAR at first can you add up the WAR of Cabrera at third and Fielder at first and compare that to sum of the WAR of Cabrera at first and Castellanos (or whoever) at third. If the latter provides more total WAR then isn’t this all a net “win” for the Tigers?

  • carmelo

    Any body know what’s up with Soler? Last minor league game was 3/17.

  • Bill

    The Tigers don’t exactly have a young team. They are a team built to win now. I don’t understand this extension. The Tiger farm system is terrible, I think it ranks near dead last. So, you can’t expect a lot of talent rolling into Detroit from the farm system, as Cabrera gets older, and his production declines (meaning he will needs others to pick up the offensive production to make up for his decline).

  • Blackhawks1963

    The contracts being doled out in recent years reaffirm my extreme faith in what Theo Epstein is building here.

    • ssckelley

      It does me to, a little, but I have to admit this did make me look at the Cubs payroll in comparison to other teams and it kinda made me sick when I calculated Cabrera’s salary with the Cubs payroll and see even adding a ridicules 30 million for 1 player it would only bring the Cubs current payroll up to the middle of the pack. The batting lineup sure looks a heck of a lot better as well with a Cabrera in the middle of it.

      I look forward to the day the Cubs are signing someone to a huge contract, I doubt it will ever be a 10 year deal to someone over the age of 30.

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