In stark contrast to most reactions to the 6-year, $144.5 million extension just signed by Angels OF Mike Trout, 23, Baseball Musings’ David Pinto says of 1B Miguel Cabrera’s 10-year, $300 million pact with Detroit, “given that Miguel is at the age where decline usually sets in, they probably won’t get their money’s worth.” Even more skeptical is Fangraph’s Dave Cameron who opines, “if the Tigers really wanted to throw this kind of money around, they simply could have done better than signing up for Cabrera’s entire decline phase.”
The Tigers already controlled Cabrera’s rights for the next two seasons, and were completely within their rights to tell him that they were going to hold off on talking about a new deal until next winter. This isn’t a young player with breakout potential whose cost could dramatically increase as he gets closer to free agency. In reality, Cabrera’s value can only really go down, given that even he likely can’t put up another 192 wRC+ season. The Tigers already paid for the rights to his 2014 and 2015 seasons, and while Cabrera might have wanted a long term commitment, they didn’t have to give him one now.
As good as Miguel Cabrera is now, the history of big heavy guys in their mid-to-late 30s is almost universally awful. Guys the size of Miguel Cabrera just don’t age well, as their bodies begin to betray them and they spend significant periods of time on the disabled list. We may already be seeing the beginnings of Cabrera’s physical decline, and his September performance was a reminder of how human a superstar can be at less than 100%.
I understand why the Tigers wanted to keep Miguel Cabrera around for the rest of his career. He’s going to go into the Hall of Fame as a Tiger, and he’ll be remembered as one of the greatest players to ever wear the Detroit uniform. It’s hard to let those guys leave. The Cardinals are pretty happy they let Albert Pujols go, though, and in a few years, the Tigers will wish they had let Cabrera go too.