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.



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