Miguel Cabrera’s Terrible and Understandable Contract

Yesterday, the Tigers agreed to make Miguel Cabrera the highest paid player in baseball history. If you look at the entirety of their future financial commitments to him as one single entity rather than two separate agreements, then this is the biggest contract in U.S. sports history. Over the next decade, the Tigers have agreed to pay Cabrera $292 million, a staggering figure for any player, and even more stunning given the context in which it was handed out. Cabrera turns 31 in less than a month. He wasn’t eligible to hit the free agent market for another two years. The contract begins with his age-33 season, and yet, without the benefit of free agency as leverage, he got more for eight years than Robinson Cano got for 10.

As you might imagine, I have a lot of thoughts about this contract. They don’t all agree with each other. So, let’s just go through the things I believe about this deal.

Point: The Tigers simply didn’t have to do this.

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.

Counter Point: Deciding not to extend is a decision not to re-sign.

It’s easy to say that the Tigers could have just let Cabrera play out these final two years and then let the market tell him he wasn’t worth 8/$248M, but in practice, elite players who aren’t signed to long term extensions simply do not re-sign with their original clubs when they hit the free agent market. It just doesn’t happen.

Over the last five off-seasons, there have been 30 free agent contracts signed with a total value of $50 million or more. Of those 30 free agent contracts, exactly one — Derek Jeter — re-signed with the team that passed on giving him an extension before he got to free agency. Every other premium free agent changed teams, and realistically, we could argue that Jeter wasn’t really a premium free agent after the 2010 season, landing a $56 million guarantee only because of his history with the Yankees.

There’s just no recent example of a team telling a superstar that they weren’t interested in a pre-free agent extension and still managing to keep that player around. Not extending Cabrera would have simply been a decision to let Cabrera leave after the 2015 season and finish his career with another team. It is incompatible with the facts to suggest that the Tigers could have let him play out his contract and then re-signed him once they had more time to evaluate how well he had started to age. It doesn’t happen. Players who are not offered extensions don’t stick around. If the Tigers told Cabrera that they’d negotiate with him in two years, history strongly suggests he would not have stayed in Detroit. If they wanted to keep him beyond 2015, they had to give him an extension at some point before he reached free agency.

Point: This second half of this contract is going to be a disaster for the Tigers.

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%.

Even with the move back to first base and the ability to DH if need be, Cabrera is unlikely to remain a full time, everyday player for the length of his contract. Even if the hitting skills don’t diminish, the durability will, and the latter portion of Frank Thomas‘ career — 400 to 500 good but not elite plate appearances per year — should be a realistic expectation for Cabrera during his new deal. He might not even lose his natural ability to hit a baseball, but it’s hard to earn $30 million per year from the disabled list.

Counter Point: Mike Ilitch probably doesn’t care much about the long term ramifications.

The Tigers owner is 84 years old. We can talk all we want about the folly of signing Cabrera through his age-40 season, but perhaps more relevantly, the Tigers just signed Cabrera through Ilitch’s age-93 season. Without being too morbid, I think you can make a pretty solid case that an 84 year old should put a very low value on what will happen 10 years into the future. If anyone should place a significant value on the present at the expense of the future, it is the age bracket to which Mr. Ilitch belongs. As they say, you can’t take it with you, and no one is going to throw a huge parade honoring his late career fiscal responsibility.

If he wants to see the team win a World Series while he’s alive, letting Miguel Cabrera walk is a poor decision. This move is almost certainly destructive to the organization’s long term future, but it probably isn’t very destructive to Mike Ilitch’s long term future, and he’s the guy holding the checkbook.

Counter Counter Point: Team owners should act as organizational stewards, not self interested overlords.

The Tigers franchise will not pass with Mr. Ilitch, so there’s a very decent chance that he has simply spent someone else’s future money to help improve his own odds of seeing the team win a World Series. He’s within his rights to do so, and no one is going to shy away from buying a hugely profitable Major League franchise simply because of one large liability on the books, but there’s an ethical argument to be made that owners have a duty to protect the franchise’s best interests even if they aren’t aligned with their own personal best interests.

While buying a team gives you the ability to use it as your own personal toy, professional sports franchises aren’t really private entities; they exist for the shared enjoyment of many. And the city of Detroit and Tigers fans everywhere are going to pay a toll due to this decision. This contract may make all the sense in the world for an elderly owner, but that doesn’t make it the right move for the franchise, and if one believes than an owner should act as a steward for the organization, than this contract is still irresponsible even if it’s rational for Mr. Ilitch to sign it.

Point: The Tigers are rich, so they don’t need to worry about spending money as efficiently as possible.

The Tigers have an estimated 2014 payroll of around $160 million, so they certainly do not have to operate on the same kind of budget as teams like the A’s. They have a new TV contract coming, and the sport as a whole is flooded with cash, so even with this contract, it’s not like the Tigers financial solvency is being threatened. Part of the value of having a big budget is that it allows you to overpay for great players without it crippling the franchise. The Giants won two World Series titles with Barry Zito on the books, after all. As long as they keep running up payrolls of $150+ million, having one bad $30 million contract on the books won’t kill them.

Counter Point: Funds are never unlimited; wasting resources is never helpful.

Even with their $160 million payroll, the Tigers are going into Opening Day with Rajai Davis in left field and some combination of Alex Gonzalez or Andrew Romine at shortstop. The Tigers have two glaring needs to upgrade, and yet are still passing on available quality veterans due to concerns about their cost. There is no such thing as a team that simply has so much money that salary is not a prohibitive restriction to adding talent. The Dodgers have the most expensive roster in baseball history and are starting a replacement level scrub at second base. The Yankees are the Yankees and boast an infield that might not be better than the Astros.

Money is always a constraint, and the money that the Tigers have just spent on an aging Cabrera will be money that can’t go to other players to fill other needs. There’s always an opportunity cost to signing a player, and if that player doesn’t produce enough value to justify his salary, it is detrimental to the franchise. Even rich franchises. Having Miguel Cabrera is great until having Miguel Cabrera is why you also have Alex Gonzalez.

Point: This contract is a ridiculous overpay.

The point of a pre-free agent extension is that a team gets a discount in exchange for taking away the player’s risk of injury before he gets a chance to land a big contract in free agency. By giving Cabrera the equivalent of 10/$292M when he was two years away from free agency, the Tigers are implicitly arguing that his open market value this winter would have been something more along the lines of $325 to $350 million.

There’s no reasonable justification for that valuation, not when Robinson Cano topped at $240 million and only had a single bidder over $175M. One can rationally prefer Cabrera to Cano, but there’s no way that Cabrera is 30% to 40% more valuable. Or, to put things into the Tigers own valuation formula, there’s no reasonable argument that Cabrera is twice as valuable as Max Scherzer, even though their final offer to him was less than half of what they have now committed to Cabrera. If the Tigers are lucky, they’ll end up paying something like $9 million per win over the life of Cabrera’s deal, and that’s including the two years that they already had under control. If they really wanted to throw this kind of money around, they simply could have done better than signing up for Cabrera’s entire decline phase.

Counter Point: There isn’t one. This deal is a ridiculous overpay.

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.




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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.


324 Responses to “Miguel Cabrera’s Terrible and Understandable Contract”

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  1. Emcee Peepants says:

    They must have seen how well this worked out for the Phillies and Ryan Howard and just couldn’t help themselves.

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    • Well-Beered Englishman says:

      On the one hand, Miguel Cabrera is and always has been a much better player than Ryan Howard.

      On the other hand, …yeah, you’re still pretty much right.

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      • Jeremy says:

        I think you could argue that the first half of this contract will pay Cabrera appropriately, and the second half will be as bad as Howard’s contract.

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        • leeroy says:

          they can always send him to the Rangers if it doesn’t work out.

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        • Wil says:

          It won’t only be “as bad” as Howard’s contract, it will be much much worse.

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        • You Fools says:

          Once he’s not worth it, Detroit will just start spiking his coffee with PEDs and get the rest of the deal voided.

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        • jmarsh says:

          I don’t think much can get worse than the Howard contract. At least our doubt over Miggy is over his conditioning and aging. If he stays healthy there’s a chance he’s worth most of it.

          I wouldn’t take that bet, but it’s still drastically better odds than the Howard contract everyone knew would turn out disasterous.

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    • Brad Johnson says:

      That was my immediate reaction – this is the Ryan Howard signing except with an actually good player.

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      • Tony Starks says:

        Ok at this point the Howard lines are getting a little tired. Yes, it was an awful contract and an awful baseball decision, but Howard was a very good player when it was signed.

        In the four years before the contract was signed, he averaged .278 /.379 /.589 with 50 Hrs per year and 4 WAR/year.

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        • arc says:

          Cabrera’s last four years have averaged .337/.425/.612 and 7 WAR per year. The difference between Howard’s peak and Cabrera is literally *another* good player.

          So his point may have been something like, assuming some decline, Cabrera will *still* be a good player. Howard would (and did) turn to average and then below average.

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        • Brad Johnson says:

          Per the things that we care about here at FanGraphs, Howard really was not a good player when he signed his extension. He was a playable player if that player was cheap (like Chris Carter), but that’s it. From a pure valuable standpoint, he wasn’t extendable.

          Per things generic fans care about, he might have been a good player. Fans like the razzle dazzle of big HR and RBI more than the weighted run value of a player’s entire season. They don’t care if he’s playing an easy defensive position. They might care if he can’t hit left handed pitching.

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    • Albert Pujols says:

      Sounds good to me.

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  2. Norm says:

    “Deciding not to extend is a decision not to re-sign.”
    Curious on the ages of those 30 players….how many of those were age 33 or older?

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    • joe says:

      Yeah, that was a false statement. They don’t stick around because the team didn’t want them, not because they couldn’t keep them.

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      • Marco says:

        I don’t quite follow this sentiment, as obviously *someone* wanted them. Are you implying that only teams that have formerly employed a player are turned off by age?

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        • bjsworld says:

          It would be far more interesting to see how many of those situations were cases where a team was willing to pay market value and the player bolted anyways. That’s really the comparable scenario to the Cabrera signing.

          I’d venture to guess that in the vast majority of cases teams let the players walk either because they could not afford them or had better in-house options available.

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        • If a free-agent bidding war is basically an auction you wouldn’t expect any particular team, including a free-agent’s last team, to win the auction. That team is no more or less likely than any other to have the right-shaped hole in its roster and the right-sized bucket of cash available…

          … except for the fact that we know the free-agent’s last team has had the unique opportunity to extend the him the last couple years and hasn’t done it. That’s evidence that there’s some limit to the team’s willingness to pay for his further services, and it’s less than the player thinks he can get elsewhere. That doesn’t necessarily mean he’s going somewhere else. The player could have been wrong, leaving the team competitive in negotiations without bidding more; the team could legitimately increase their valuation of him relative to other teams in the year between extension negotiations and free agent negotiations, leaving the team competitive in negotiations; the team may have been making extension offers well below their valuation because they thought they could get a bargain in the uncompetitive extension bidding process, and expose their true, competitive valuation only at free-agent time; the player may have been holding out for a big overpay in extension negotiations, ready to adjust his expectations down once his next-year’s contract wasn’t guaranteed.

          But if the player and his agent have a realistic idea of his market and the team and player are negotiating in straightforward ways (a big if), the lack of an extension might be good evidence against a re-sign. Not so much because players that make it to free agency never re-sign, but because the team has revealed a valuation limit in the extension process that other teams may not.

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    • JKB says:

      Also, Carl Crawford was one of those 30 players…

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    • RC says:

      Why does it matter?

      Extending is almost always cheaper than re-signing a guy as an FA. If you’re not willing to pay the guy a year from FA, you’re not going to be willing to when hes asking for 20% more.

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  3. triple_r says:

    Part of the value of having a big budget is that it allows you to overpay for great players without it crippling the franchise. The Giants won two World Series titles with Barry Zito on the books, after all.

    So Zito is a great player?

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  4. asdfasdf says:

    In regards to your Counter Point: Funds are never unlimited; wasting resources is never helpful.

    Who is to say that money is the reason that the Tigers can’t or won’t find a SS and LF? The Tigers have not come out and said they won’t sign Drew because he is too expensive. There could be other reasons such as the first round pick attached to signing him. Cabrera’s contract isn’t the reason for trading for Gonzalez, the stress fractures in Iglesias’s knees are.

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    • asdf says:

      $292,000,000 buys a lot of first round draft picks.

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    • Dylan says:

      The Tigers could probably use this money right now to basically buy a good LF and SS from a team. Jose Reyes has a guaranteed 4 years, 86 million left, the Blue Jays would probably give him away just to get out of the contract, maybe demanding a bit more, let’s say 4 years, 100 million. Wouldn’t cost a first round pick.

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      • BMac says:

        There is actually little chance of this. The Blue Jays are actually a deep pocket organization, with all of Canada as its territory. Anthopolous has gone on the record that they are trying to win this year. Trading Reyes would be bailing out, esp. with no internal options to replace him.

        I am still mystified why they are going with GOINS at 2B, though.

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        • ummm says:

          Typically teams that are actually trying to win sport something better than what is easily a bottom five rotation.

          It’s his job to say “We’re trying to win”, even if they’re not….which they are not, clearly.

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        • Oh, Beepy says:

          Not that you’re wrong, but that offense is pretty solid and Reyes is still one of their most valuable players, even if he is expensive. Additionally, I doubt you could find many examples of any team, contending or not, that willingly gave up a still-good player for salary relief.

          The Jays didn’t sign anyone this year because they got cute with the pitchers they wanted and other teams stepped up and signed the offended players. As for the Ryan Goins Experiment, who the fuck knows? Maybe they’re going to juice him full of IVs of Adderall until he has a hundred percent contact rate. They have a public history of not dealing with Boras, which could be the reason for no Drew.

          Basically, their own policies and organizational failings have stopped them from improving the team, not available finances. Rogers Communications has basically unlimited resources relative to an MLB payroll, even just considering the division that runs the Jays books.

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        • ummm says:

          I agree all around, beepy.

          It just bugs me when people talk about a club having a “deep pocket” and use it as justification for a move/non-move or pretend like AA is the second coming of Christ.

          The Jays have been (what I consider to be) big spenders for all of one season under Rogers ownership but have said “We’re trying to win” every year.

          Actions speak louder than words.

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        • MLip says:

          Ummmm, your comment is just made up facts.

          AA has not said he is trying to win every year. Prior to last season, he has acknowledged on several occasions that winning a world series would be unlikely.

          When he was first hired, he stated many times that his first order of business was rebuilding the farm system and figuring out the players that will make up the core of the team. He then locked up said core players to extensions (Bautista, Romero, Morrow,Encarnacion, etc.).He would then use the assets in the farm system to acquire MLB players (Happ, Buerhle, Reyes, Dickey, Rasmus, etc).

          It was only last season after the major trades, that AA and Beeston publicly stated they were all in and that they believed they had a shot at the WS. AA and Beeston have always said when they felt the right pieces were in place, Rogers would step up and increase payroll. Lo and behold, when the Marlins trade became available, Rogers stepped up and permitted the huge increase in payroll. They signed Melky as a free agent last season as well. Even after that, they acquired Dickey and signed him to an extension.

          Their payroll is still approximately $140 million, which is clearly a big spender. They were not big spenders (but still around league average) until they felt the time was right (i.e. they had a strong core in place, and enough tradeable assets to acquire the final pieces). When the actions line up with words, they should be pretty reliable.

          Furthermore, while the Jays failed to sign a significant free agent this offseason, there was not really anyone available. After the last two seasons plagued by injury, an injury prone starter made no sense (such as Garza). Jiminez and Santana made more sense, but were flawed. Santana pitched in front of the best defense in the league, in a pitcher’s ballpark, in the AL central, and is one season removed from an entirely awful season (although there’s evidence his success last season was due to incorporating a sinker). Jiminez has never put together an entire season of great production, yet he is being paid like a #2 starter. While he has all the talent to meet the expectations of his salary, coming off two horribly inconsistent seasons by their SP, I think AA was wise not to invest so heavily in a wildcard like Jiminez. Last, there are also arguments that Hutchison, Stroman, and Sanchez are all capable of similar contributions as Santana and Jiminez this year for the minimum salary.

          I agree that Drew would have made sense at 2B for the Jays, but there is also a reason no other team has signed him (Yankees, Dodgers and Tigers all have giant holes at 2B, and all are ‘big spenders’). Either Boras’s evaluation is way off, or there is something scaring teams away. Plus, AA publicly said last year that he would like a strong defensive 2B because the turf at Rogers Centre plays so fast.

          Actions speak louder than words. His actions suggest that he stands by his words. He had an offer to Santana for $14 million, which further suggests that Rogers is willing to spend even more money on the MLB team if the right opportunity presents itself.

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    • Atreyu Jones says:

      Choosing a draft pick over a player is equivalent to not getting a player for money reasons. The draft pick is valuable because it’s expected to save the team…money.

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      • bjsworld says:

        Unfortunately, most draft picks just end up costing the team money. If a player doesn’t develop all he does is suck of resources and offers nothing to off-set those costs.

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        • Atreyu Jones says:

          But the players that do develop more than make up for the ones that miss, which is why we can say that any individual draft pick has a positive expected value.

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    • Scott J Marcus says:

      I agree: Dave makes a lot of good points in the article, but I don’t think that either the Dodgers or Tigers have black holes at the positions hes mentions due to lack of funds. It’s more about lack of available options at those positions. If there was a good second baseman available to overpay for, then the Dodgers would do so. And, in my (and probably the Dodgers as well) opinion, Drew is not a good 2nd baseman — he is an average shortstop.

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      • bjsworld says:

        Then explain the Fister trade. It was motivated either by:

        1. The need to free up money to spend elsewhere.
        2. The feeling that Robbie Ray is better than Doug Fister.

        I would much rather admit that my club has financial constraints than to think that they really believe that Ray for Fister was a smart baseball move.

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      • chuckb says:

        bjsworld is right. It’s not as though the Tigers actually believe that Gonzalez is better than Drew. Either they haven’t signed Drew because they think he’s not worth the money he’s asking for; they’re wanting to allocate that $30-40 M into the pool to re-sign Scherzer; or both. Money is absolutely a component of the Tigers’ calculus on not signing Drew.

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      • Aj says:

        I’m getting pretty tired of people saying this. If a team has unlimited financial resources, there are PLENTY of available options. Teams can essentially trade players for money by offering to pay off the remaining salary of a player involved in a trade. For example, the tigers could have offered fielder straight up for almost any player in the league if they simply agreed to pay the majority of Fielder’s remaining salary. The commissioners office needs to approve such trades but I can’t recall them ever rejecting one for that reason.

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  5. Ray says:

    David Ortiz seems to still be a very good hitter at the age of 38. Who’s to say Miggy isn’t better at that age?

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    • Brian says:

      That’s just an awful lot of hope you’re pinning on 1 example of a guy who’s a really good hitter still at 38. I can find you about 100 examples of guys who aren’t. And you’re betting 30M a year on it….when you didn’t even have to because he’s still under contract for 2 more years. And as good as ortiz is the BoSox don’t commit to him for more than a year or two at a time for about half this AAV.

      It’s crazy. Two guys in baseball i’d even consider signing to a 10 year deal right now. Their names are Trout and Harper. And it would scare the hell out of me to do it.

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      • Graham Strouse says:

        Generally speaking fat first baseman tend to go into decline VERY quickly after age 30. Ortiz is unusual but he’s also been a DH for most of his career.

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    • K says:

      ortiz is an exception to the rule

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    • asdf says:

      he’s also making half as much money, in a system stacked with surplus value at other positions that enables a slight overpay for the face of the franchise. Emphasis on *slight*.

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      • Bil Bo Baggins says:

        also miguel is signed until age 41 i believe?? for one Ortiz is an exception where there are tons of cases opposite to Ortiz, and secondly, i dont think its as likely ortiz is very good for another 3 years, let alone this year (as miguel signed til age 41ish)

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    • Simon says:

      And the Red Sox keep going year to year with him for half Miggy’s annual salary. And Ortiz level production is basically the best possible world for the second half of the deal.

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    • arc says:

      If they had signed him for Ortiz’s salary, this wouldn’t be nearly as bad.

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    • KS says:

      Ortiz WAS a very good hitter at age 37. It remains to be seen what kind of hitter he is at 38.

      Recall his miserable first two months in 2009. Even though he “broke out” of that slump, he ended up no more than a league average hitter for the season. He could very well have a similar or longer period of futility this year, and/or get hurt again.

      Ortiz is due for a pretty significant and pretty rapid decline in the not very distant future. The Red Sox are obviously aware of this, hence their caution with his contract.

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    • bjsworld says:

      Ortiz’s WAR starting in his age 32 season:

      32 – 1.8
      33 – 0.0
      34 – 2.5
      35 – 3.9
      36 – 2.9
      37 – 3.8
      38 – ??? projections avg right around 3

      If Ortiz represents the best case scenario you are looking at 6 years and 15 WAR. AND we still haven’t gotten to the really ugly years of the Cabrera contract.

      From a WAR perspective this deal will be a complete and utter disaster. Cabrera will be a DH and no matter how good he swings the stick the probability of him being a 4-5 WAR player past 35 is incredibly low.

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    • Johnny says:

      Can you name one hitter the last 20 years who was a stud at 38-39? I can’t think of one example. For whatever reason lefty power guys can still be productive at 39 ( i.e. Thome, Ortiz) but it never happens with right handed hitters.

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    • chuckb says:

      Want to bet $124 million on Ortiz’s next 4 seasons?

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  6. fromthemachine says:

    I don’t understand this at all. Trading/resigning him at age 33 makes a lot more sense. The one saving grace is that they have a GM who just unloaded Fielder and his massive contract once the blush was off his bat.

    Maybe they’re thinking they pay him market value for a few years to keep him happy, then ship him out when his stats indicate a decline.

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    • Anon says:

      Cabrera has 5/10 rights. He isn’t getting traded unless he wants traded.

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    • Cap'n Scrappy says:

      It’s not like they just got out from fielder’s contract with no consequences. They had to take kinsler’s contract and pay a bunch of money to cover the difference in the contracts. And I’m pretty sure Cabrera will have 10-5 veto rights on any deal, too.

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    • quincy0191 says:

      They still had to include a bunch of cash and take on another contract. Don’t get me wrong, it was still a really good deal for Detroit, but if they were to unload Miggy it would have to involve them covering a substantial portion of the money left and take a big contract in return. This money probably can’t be un-spent.

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    • Paul says:

      What they said, and I’ll add, the other 29 GM’s aren’t generally dumb.

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  7. Pinstripe Wizard says:

    Somewhere Mike Trout is having himself a wonderful time thing about his market value.

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    • Gabes says:

      Yeah, if a later-30s Cabrera is worth $30M/year, a late-20s Trout is worth what, $50M at least?

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      • Pinstripe Wizard says:

        I’m walking in the door at 10/$450M and would do my best to keep a straight face throughout the process.

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    • Paul says:

      Seriously though, how mad are the Angels that the reported extension that was buzzing around a few weeks ago is, so far, just 1/$1m? Even if Trout and his agents reached a verbal agreement with the team to sign the extension after Opening Day, I’ll bet they’ve already conveniently forgotten about it.

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    • JS7 says:

      Mike Trout: 25 years and $850 Million.

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    • Lucky Strikes says:

      Trout was going to set the market for Cabrera. Is it possible DET overpaid for fear that Trout’s inevitable riches would drive the cost to keep Miggy in uniform.
      Yeah, it’s still a ridiculous contract…

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  8. jim fetterolf says:

    As a Royal’s fan I think it’s great that the Tigers are paying that much for Cabrera for that long.

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  9. RMD says:

    “the Tigers just signed Cabrera through Ilitch’s age-93 season.”

    I nominate that sentence for the best one ever written on this site.

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    • Ari Collins says:

      The bar is pretty high with Carson around, though. From yesterday:

      “It is sometimes the case that two consenting heterosexual adults, upon finding that the lady one of them is accidentally “with child,” will decide at that point also to enter into holy matrimony, with the belief (it would seem) that two poor life choices, if made within close proximity, have the capability of negating each other. This is more or less the guiding philosophy behind many of the Phillies’ roster decisions in recent years.”

      Granted, it’s two sentences. Just imagine it has a semi-colon instead of a period, okay?

      +94 Vote -1 Vote +1

  10. WBB says:

    As a Tigers fan this contract does have me worried. I know players of Miggy’s size do not age well, however, I do hold out hope that he will age gracefully based on the fact that his greatest asset is not really strength or bat speed but his brain. Everyone who has ever been around him says he can remember every pitch that he has ever been thrown, so a la David Ortiz his ability to control the at-bat and command the plate to wait for his pitch should age well. Should be able to keep hitting dingers if he knows what is coming. And if he can stay healthy….

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Cap'n Scrappy says:

      Killer memories – the new market inefficiency!

      +16 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • WBB says:

        I would say that approach to the game, while immeasurable, is certainly important information when evaluating a player. No team would know more about Miggy than the Tigers and I’m sure part of their decision making is based on this. Not saying it is not flawed, but reasonable to understand.

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    • arc says:

      David Ortiz isn’t worth $30M/y, though.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Tyler says:

        Can we at least note that we should be comparing Ortiz’s 2014 dollars to Cabrera’s 2021 dollars? Isn’t it at least possible that $15 million/year now will be reasonably close to the equivalent of $30 million/year in 2021?

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  11. Jay Stevens says:

    Good for Cabrera. The more money the players can wrest from the owners, the better. I don’t go down to the park to watch Mike Ilitch own.

    +43 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Well-Beered Englishman says:

      Could be worse. Marlins fans don’t go down to the park to watch Jeffrey Loria own.

      +17 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Pinstripe Wizard says:

        At this point, if you’re still a Marlins fan, don’t you go TO watch Loria own? The draw of the Fish is the comedy of errors with which it is being run. They’re like a really bad 80s movie that you know is terrible but can’t turn away from.

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        • Grammar Police says:

          It would seem at this point, if you’re a Marlins fan you just don’t go.

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        • rogue_actuary says:

          It’s strange that you’re characterizing the running of the Marlins as being in error. It’s entirely intentional. And, given the desired result, successful.

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        • RunTeddyRun says:

          Hey, at least the Fish got a ring out of Miggy

          Vote -1 Vote +1

    • chuckb says:

      Good for Cabrera, indeed. And bad for Tigers’ fans beyond about 2016 or 2017.

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  12. brett says:

    I’ll nominate Anibal Sanchez as a player who signed a greater than $50M extension with his former team. I hate to nitpicks after an article like this but you were militant with your wording for a couple paragraphs there.

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    • bdhudson says:

      He was with the Tigers for about two months before that deal was signed. I’m not sure I’d call that relevant.

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      • brett says:

        Fair enough, but I think it becomes relevant when the wording is as aggressive as Dave’s in paragraph 8. Sometimes it does happen.

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        • arc says:

          Certainly not. The entire point was about a team *foregoing* prior extension talks and re-signing the player anyway. That opportunity didn’t exist with Sanchez.

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    • eayres33 says:

      If I recall Sanchez was traded mid season to the tigers. I’m pretty sure Dave was just looking at players who had at least had one offseason with the team to be extended in.

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      • brett says:

        This is one way of looking at it. Another is the Tigers acquired Sanchez and chose to evaluate him for as long as possible before decide whether or not to extend him. They could have requested extension window in July.

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    • Reading! says:

      “Over the last five off-seasons, there have been 30 free agent contracts signed with a total value of $50 million or more.”

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    • indyralph says:

      That’s incredibly nitpicky given that it was his “former team” for about 4 months. And I really don’t think the language was militant. I guess in the future the counter points should really try to agree more with the points?

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      • brett says:

        Alright, here’s my problem: it’s a logical fallacy to suggest that something cannot happen because it hasn’t happened in a five year span. Dave knows this.

        Then, I remembered that Sanchez just did this thing, so I pointed it out hoping that Dave will be less aggressive next time. I understand that the Sanchez contract and the Cabrera one have very few parallels.

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        • arc says:

          Even if there were parallels, he didn’t suggest it *couldn’t* happen; he suggested it *wouldn’t* happen because it rarely does. Nothing fallacious there at all.

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  13. heywally says:

    A nice piece. Yep, I prefer to spread that kind of money around on several good younger players, with a more medium/longer term view of the team winning games. Too many eggs in one basket in signing any kind of 31 year old player to this — of course they have to be old enough to have the track record to justify the big deal? —

    Too many eggs in one basket, depending on the contract structure of course.

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  14. Mike Trout says:

    Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth.

    +46 Vote -1 Vote +1

  15. Pedg8 says:

    Miggy is the MJ or Messi of the MLB, that’s it! He’s worth every cents of that contract, even more! Is a Hall of Fame active player!
    This is the price if any MLB organizations wants to have the best baseball player ever!

    -31 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • bobabaloo says:

      ya, he’ll probably worth it in 2014. in 2019, no.

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    • Professor Ross Eforp says:

      Not even close to the best baseball player ever seen. Not even all that close to the best active baseball player, though that’s not completely fair because he is still likely the second or so best player active.

      +17 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • LK says:

        By 2nd best player active, do you mean right at the moment or over his career?

        If it’s the latter, I think Miggy is at best the 3rd best player active, as he’s got a long, long way to go to pass A-Rod and Pujols. That assumes, of course, that no younger active players end up surpassing him, which probably at least one of them will end up doing, Trout being the obvious candidate.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • martin vandenherik says:

      i’m glad you’re happy (but didn’t think Tiger fans visited sabre sites). Just don’t complain in five years about the Dodgers and Yankees…

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • JimNYC says:

      He’s a great player. He is not even remotely close to being the best ever.

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    • arc says:

      He isn’t even the best hitter of his generation, let alone the best player.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Kevin says:

        This is very true. Of players who have played from 2000-2013 who have been worth more WAR over their careers and are roughly the same age as Cabrera:

        Pujols – 33 years old, 87.1 WAR
        Beltre – 35, 61.4 WAR
        Cabrera – 31, 55.1 WAR

        Cabrera will likely pass Beltre by the time he’s 35, but not likely Pujols over the next two years. And Anaheim is already regretting that deal.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • chuckb says:

      “The best baseball player ever?”

      Welcome to our site. Please take some time to read the glossary and familiarize yourself with some of the concepts you’ll be reading about.

      We love getting new readers migrating here from the bleacher report.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • James says:

        Where are the slideshows?

        +18 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Hoosier says:

        He’s been the second best over the last 10 years, and a good chance of overtaking Pujols before its all over. So yes, any time you say someone is the “best ever” you’re asking for a smack down, but the dislike for Cabrera on this site is irrationsl. Do any of you watch him and play? Are you not amazed by what this man can do with a bat in his hands?

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Oh, Beepy says:

          This website literally loves Miguel Cabrera. They have regular .gifoffs of his home runs and they write articles about his uncanny ability to hit said home runs.

          It is entirely possible to give a very bad contract to a very good player. If someone signed Mike Trout to a 20 year contract right now, we would all be talking about how monumentally stupid it is.

          No one here hates Miguel Cabrera; quite the opposite, I’d imagine.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

  16. LONNIE says:

    This contract has Albert Pujols part2 written all over it. I don’t understand signing him to this deal now when they could have waited a year and got him at the same price.

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  17. bobabaloo says:

    well, as a tiger fan, I’m not sure how to feel about this. Honestly, I have very little faith this is going to be a competitive team in 5 or so years; their farm is horrible and it’s difficult to build a good team with free agents alone, and they will need a lot of those.
    So worst case, in 5, 6 ,6 years we won’t have a good team to root for, but at least we’ll have an aging player we can chear on as he breaks records! right guys?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • arc says:

      Win a title and it will probably be worth it from a fan’s perspective. That experience and the memories from it can get you through a lot of years of suckitude.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Doug Lampert says:

      5-6 years from now the Tigers likely have new ownership.

      Assuming Illitch’s heirs sell the team then the new owners will have discounted the team for this contract, it shouldn’t actually effect their current spending 9 years from now all that much as they should be writing the cost of the Cabrera contract off against the money they saved on the purchase discount, not out of current income.

      (Note: The hypothetical new owners may well CLAIM that they can’t afford to sign free agents because of the Cabrerra contract, but if true this claim would reveal that the new owners are idiots. Why else would they have not taken the organization’s liabilities into account in their business plan prior to making the purchase?)

      Illitch is spending his great-grandchildren’s money here. That may well turn out to be irrelivant from a fan’s perspective.

      Flags fly forever. If I were a Detroit fan I would not be particularly distressed by this deal.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • rea says:

        Note that Illitch bought the Tigers in ’92 for 82 million. The estimated current value of the franchise is $680 million, according to Forbes. That doesn’t include the value of the parking and concession operations, which are under another holding company. With the value of the franchise appreciating at that rate, a long-term contract like this does not seem outlandish from a business point fo view.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Tim says:

        You can’t treat selling a baseball team like selling the kind of company that’s available a thousand times a year. These are extremely high-prestige properties with a historical valuation trend that isn’t even on the same chart with anyone else, and they don’t come up for sale very often. The operating expenses of an MLB team are essentially irrelevant in valuing it for sale.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Doug Lampert says:

          If the operating expenses are irrelevant then they’re irrelevant.

          You can’t in one line claim that the purchase doesn’t discount for known future expenses because the sale isn’t profit driven, and then in the next line claim that the owners will be constrained by shortage of money due to those expenses because operations are profit driven.

          Pick one. Either Cabrera’s contract is big enough to effect team value, or it also isn’t big enough to effect team operations, purchase and operations come out of the same guy’s pocket.

          Vote -1 Vote +1

  18. bobabaloo says:

    also, hip hip horray for the DH!

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  19. Ed says:

    My first thought when I read about this extension was “Boy, Dave Cameron is going to HATE this deal!”

    +25 Vote -1 Vote +1

  20. Oliver says:

    Trite comment, but every bubble needs it’s pets.com

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  21. Tim says:

    “The Yankees are the Yankees and boast an infield that might not be better than the Astros.”

    I suspect you wanted an apostrophe at the end of that sentence, though it’s quite entertaining the way it is.

    +44 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Jason B says:

      You won the internets today good sir.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Cool Lester Smooth says:

      Does he, though? I’m willing to bet that the Yankees’ infield will be worth more than the 3.9 WAR the Astros compiled last year.

      (Tex 3, Jeter 2, Johnson 2, Roberts/Anna 1.5)

      Hell, McCann alone may well be worth more than the Astros were last year.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  22. kevinthecomic says:

    Just doing some simple math: at $292,000,000 for 10 years and assuming Cabrera is healthy the ENTIRE time and gets, on average, 600 ABs per year, that works out to almost $49,000/AB. Just makes you say ‘damn’.

    +10 Vote -1 Vote +1

  23. Eric says:

    Yup, Trout is easily going to get 400M. Heck, maybe even 500M

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  24. bright side says:

    Well, it could be worse. Instead of spending this $ on Cabrera, they could have been forward looking and spread it out–on the top Free Agent hitter each of the last three years:

    Carl Crawford, Albert Pujols, and Josh Hamilton.

    +18 Vote -1 Vote +1

  25. vivalajeter says:

    I’d understand signing the back-to-back AL MVP to this contract, if the voters had gotten it right. But when we’re talking about Cabrera, I just don’t get it. We have no insight into the negotiations, but if they offered him the same exact contract with 2 fewer years, he would have said no?

    And Dave, good point about free agents never re-signing with their old team. I hadn’t thought about that, but it’s interesting information.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  26. TanGeng says:

    How much of an overpay is it if we consider the contract as deferred payment for front-loaded performance(WAR)?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Jon L. says:

      That *is* what I’m considering it. The Tigers are too smart to think that Cabrera is going to be a great player at age 40. Tie him up now, reap the rewards in the not-too-distant future (hopefully), and then also get some deferred rewards as he draws fan, becomes a Detroit icon, and passes milestones while being overpaid for current performance.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Ian R. says:

      The problem is that the Tigers already had Cabrera’s next two seasons, which may very well be his last two elite seasons.

      For this extension to make sense, Cabrera has to produce enough surplus value in his age-33 through age-36 seasons (or thereabouts) to offset the negative value of his age-37 through age-40 seasons.

      Is that possible? Sure. Is it likely? No. It’s hard for any player, especially a bat-only player, to produce surplus value when he’s already being paid market value for 4-5 wins.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  27. Anon21 says:

    “There’s just no recent example of a team telling a superstar that they weren’t interested in a pre-free agent extension and still managing to keep that player around. Not extending Cabrera would have simply been a decision to let Cabrera leave after the 2015 season and finish his career with another team. It is incompatible with the facts to suggest that the Tigers could have let him play out his contract and then re-signed him once they had more time to evaluate how well he had started to age. It doesn’t happen. Players who are not offered extensions don’t stick around. If the Tigers told Cabrera that they’d negotiate with him in two years, history strongly suggests he would not have stayed in Detroit. If they wanted to keep him beyond 2015, they had to give him an extension at some point before he reached free agency.”

    What are you trying to say here, Dave? That if the Tigers hadn’t offered Cabrera an extension, he would have departed in free agency? I feel like the point could use a little emphasis.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  28. The Ancient Mariner says:

    The responsible thing for Mike Ilitch re: the Tigers, if he wants to spend now to maximize his present chances, would be to put up his own money for it — put $200 million or so in the bank to collect interest and cover the contract.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • brett says:

      I like this thought, although he must already be collecting interest on a huge sum of money, right? Also, as discussed above, he could have distributed this money differently to have a better chance of winning. I think this is less about a championship and more about keeping a future hall-of-famer in a Tigers uniform. I have a hard time imagining that even Ilich and Dombrowski think this is a good baseball move. How can anyone think this is a good baseball move?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • arc says:

      And spend more money on the team. Sign Drew, for example. If you’re going to go all-in, really go all-in.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • RSF says:

      Good idea. I am sure Mike Ilitch, with his net worth of $1.7 billion, has yet to put any of his money in any interest-earning accounts or investments. Up to this point, he has probably converted it all to gold coins and stored it all in a Scrooge McDuck-ian silo.

      +26 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Jay Stevens says:

        I think he’s worth nearly $4 billion, isn’t he?

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Jay Stevens says:

        Also, Ilitch bought the team for about $82 million in 1992. According to the recent Forbes report, the Tigers are now worth $680 million. Ilitch is still up $300 million — assuming Cabrera’s contract doesn’t have any value at all. But since the Tigers have been playing ball in 2009, annual revenue has jumped nearly $100 million/year and the value if the team, $300 million.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • David says:

      Well, no. First, Ilitch could live to be 93 having already made it to 84. Bust if he dies, any impact to the franchise will be felt by his estate — i.e. his family. After Ilitch dies, ownership will pass according to his will. If it stays in the family, his family will be paying for the contract. If it is put up for sale, either the Cabrera contract is a drain on the value of the franchise impacting the price, or not. If it does impact the price, once again the pain is felt by the estate — ie the Ilitch family. If the value of the franchise is not impacted by the contract than it is hard to say Ilitch has somehow breached a fiduciary duty.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • indyralph says:

      Any buyer of sound mind in a multi-billion dollar transaction does enough due diligence to account for all of the liabilities of the business in the sale price. Ilitch or, more likely, his heirs will pay for it then. The only reason to put up the money for it now would be if they for some reason expect to not be able to cover the future costs with future operating cash flows. Either way, you’re just asking him to take money out of his right pocket and put it in his left.

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  29. paul says:

    This is very simple. Mike Ilitch has Colon Cancer. He won’t be around for long. Pay your superstar now keep em happy and try to win a WS soon. His son Chris Ilitch will likely be selling the team when Mike passes so again it doesn’t matter. Regarding the performance decline in late 30’s don’t forget that he’s not an exclusive power hitter. He can can hit ANY pitch and ‘takes what they give him’ and sprays the ball all over the field. He will still be hitting 300 in 5+ years he will just have less HR’s.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • arc says:

      Even if that were guaranteed, it isn’t worth $30M. And then there’s the fact that it’s anything but guaranteed.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Steven says:

      It’s not that funny to joke that someone has colon cancer. Joking about a person’s age is more okay because we all have to deal with it, and people are less viable to take offense to it. Colon cancer, on the other hand, is something most people luckily don’t have to deal with and people who have it most likely don’t see it in such a humorous light.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • chuckb says:

        I don’t think he was making a joke. I think he was trying to explain the contract. I don’t have any idea whether or not Illitch has colon cancer, but his comment appears to indicate that he’s serious.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • That Guy says:

        Yeah, it takes a real asshole to makes jokes about colon cancer, huh?

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • chuckb says:

      I don’t know how serious Illitch’s health is, but Cabrera was signed for 2 more years. He didn’t need to add 8.

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  30. JJ says:

    I’d take issue with the argument that not extending Cabrera is tantamount to losing him. Correlation sure, but causation? Maybe players are reluctant to re-sign with a team that refused to sign an extension, but my sense is that the teams are simply outbid.

    The sample is probably skewed. Teams that failed to sign a major free agent to a big extension are more likely to be smaller revenue teams who then couldn’t afford to outbid other teams. But the Tigers won’t have that problem.

    Robinson Cano didn’t leave the Yankees because they failed to sign him to an extension. He left because the Mariners offered a better deal. It is reasonable for the Tigers to worry that two years from now, some team flush with new revenue, desperate to make a big splash, would offer Cabrera a monster contract. But it’s very unlikely any team would be swooping in to offer anything like an 8 year, 240 million deal for a first basemen entering his age 33 season, even one as good as Cabrera.

    There’s no defending this contract.

    +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Big in Japan says:

      I agree. The free agent’s incentives still skew toward his current team – familiarity, friendships, family, etc. If the Cardinals offered Pujols the same deal the Angels offered him (or better), he’d still be a Cardinal.

      This deal only makes sense if you assume star players will tank their stats or poison the clubhouse if not extended. Because it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which 8 years/$248M isn’t the winning bid for free agent Cabrera in 2016. The Tigers seem to have learned nothing from the Cano deal.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Cap'n Scrappy says:

      I think the point is that teams and players’ agents are pretty good at figuring out a player’s free agent value before they hit the market. Therefore, if a team doesn’t pay the going rate while they have exclusive negotiating rights, it probably means they’re unwilling to pay the going rate later. The only way the player would end up back with the team in that scenario is if one or both sides overestimated the going rate ahead of time.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • JJ says:

        Right, but presumably the Tigers ARE willing to pay the going rate and then some. And if Cabrera suffers a bit of age-related decline, even if he’s still good a couple years from now, my guess is that an 8 years/$240 million is going to be WELL more than the going rate. Even if he doesn’t show much decline, 8/240 could still be well more than the going rate.

        The extension is beside the point. The only thing that matters is which team makes the best offer. The ONLY way this move makes any sense, even if we’re only looking at shorter 5 year horizon, is if the Tigers thought there was a real risk that 2 years from now some other team would swoop in with an even better offer than 8 years/240.

        The chances of that happening are very small, and it was completely unreasonable for the team to take this risk, just to prevent the very slight chance that another team would’ve offer more than the 8/240.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Cybo says:

      This contract will be the reason the Tigers season attendance will still top 3 million in 2020, 2021, 2022… It may seem like an overpay statically, but from a business viewpoint it makes sense. There is no quantifying the profitability of this deal for the Tigers as a for profit business. The merchandise, the allure of watching a hall of famer climb his way up list of various records, and the constantly inflating cost of elite FAs make this deal a lot better than it looks from a strictly statistical position.

      Bottom line is this contract will ultimately pay for itself. The timing of it is the most curious part with the Sherzer extension that wasn’t still fresh in everyone’s minds. As I said in another post, this deal also looks like its meant to be a big “FU” to Boras.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  31. JNC says:

    I’m wondering if there examples of players that have chosen retirement over the financial incentives of prolonging an in-decline career in order to preserve their stat legacies.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  32. Doug Fister says:

    The Tigers can easily afford this. They just traded away having to pay me for the next 40 years.

    +24 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • jdbolick says:

      Yeah, what’s the excuse for the Fister deal now?

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Joshua_C says:

        Agreed. The Fister trade now looks even worse. I know Dombrowski is theoretically competent and all, and I liked the Fielder trade, but . . . wow.

        The Tigers are a WS contender, but they’ve had a very poor offseason for their long-term contention chances.

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  33. Brendan says:

    “Deciding not to extend is a decision not to re-sign.”

    If they offered him 8 yrs/250 million at the end of this contract he’d be re-signing. The offer would still be good enough in 2 years, the team just won’t make it.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Hank says:

      It also makes it sound like this is the only offseason they could extend him. Last I checked he has TWO years left on his current deal. A decision not to extend him this offseason is not precluding them from doing it next offseason.

      Of course only 1 year out to FA, the Tigers might not have gotten as much of a “discount” as this extension got them.

      Even if one believes in the (twisted) logic that no extension = not re-signing, they still had another year to do an extension.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  34. Bobby says:

    Since you never explicitly said it, I will. It makes no sense to me why Cabrera was extended but Max Scherzer was not. For the same reasons you gave for Cabrera, Scherzer is also likely to leave when his contract expires. Only that’s this year, not next year.

    If you had $292 million sitting around, even if you aren’t convinced Scherzer will be an elite pitcher for years to come, why not offer him something like $40 million per for a one- or two-year extension?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  35. tz says:

    For that much money, you could have a full lineup of Starling Marte’s AND had enough left over to cover Prince Fielder’s outstanding Domino’s tab.

    +29 Vote -1 Vote +1

  36. Luke Kim says:

    This post is hilariously written, especially the Counter Point and Counter Counter Point paragraphs regarding the team owner.

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  37. db says:

    Even if you want to extend, there is no reason to do it 2 years before the contract is up. There was no basis to think that a deal had to be reached now or never. Maybe Miggy gets hurt this season and takes a smaller deal as an extension next off season.

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    • Eric Cioe says:

      Or maybe he gets so pissed off that he wasn’t locked up that he doesn’t want to play anymore. Maybe he made it known that if he wasn’t locked up now, he would definitely be exploring free agency.

      So many comments on this site just assume that you can sign people to whatever deal, as long as there is a lot of money. Maybe he wanted to know where he was going to be for 10 years, and wouldn’t sign a 5 year deal, as someone suggested. There is so much we don’t know that lots of fangraphs readers just assume to always be in the interests of the team. The player has interests, too.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

      • LK says:

        “Or maybe he gets so pissed off that he wasn’t locked up that he doesn’t want to play anymore.”

        Sure seems like if that were his attitude you wouldn’t want to re-sign him anyway.

        “Maybe he made it known that if he wasn’t locked up now, he would definitely be exploring free agency.”

        OK, sure, he can explore all he wants in 2 years, and he’s not going to find more than $240M.

        This contract just isn’t very smart. It’s bad enough that it would be better to have not signed it even if it meant you definitely lose him in 2 years. When that’s the case, the kind of points you’re trying to make aren’t really all that persuasive.

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      • Jason B says:

        “Maybe he made it known that if he wasn’t locked up now, he would definitely be exploring free agency.”

        So? Why not take his likely two best years remaining and let someone else massively overpay for the decline years?

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        • Joshua_C says:

          I’m not sure why anyone would be all that upset about Cabrera leaving in two years. Even had this extension not been signed, he’s exactly the type of player teams overpay late in their career.

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  38. JJ says:

    Excellent Article. As a rabid Mets fan I’d like to share this with every other Mets fan who complains about Sandy Alderson and the Mets lack of signing “more” free agents. These contracts are killers. Although I do love to watch the big names play, I love it even more when my team wins.

    Quite simple: Do Tigers fans go to the ballpark to watch the Tigers? or do they go to watch Miguel?

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    • Cybo says:

      Both. Don’t forget about JV too!

      As a Tiger fan I’m glad he’s never going anywhere else. Detroit is where he belongs. Thinking about the last 5 years of this deal kind of makes me sad though. Miggy is DD’s godson so it had to be done apparently.

      In a weird way I think this deal was meant to be a big “FU” to Boras after all the drama leftover from the Sherzer talks.

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      • terracool says:

        100% right. People absolutely go to the park to see Miggy hit. It’s something this city has not seen for a very long time. He is soooo much better than the rest of the league that it shows up in almost every game – almost every at bat. It’s a show in itself.

        And I also thought that the Tigers could not possibly have missed how this would look to Maxxxxx. I love Scherzer, but Boras screwed him. Maybe he will get more in FA, esp if he repeats his Cy year. Maybe he won’t.

        But just as everyone talks about the precedent for big contracts to players, this may also be a precedent for the players to watch if they let Boras convince them to try FA even if they like their current team. Go ahead. Listen to Boras. Reject a decent offer from a team you like. Then watch the door slam in your face as your declined money is immediately spent elsewhere.

        Again, I love Scherzer and would have liked to see him stay. But I will also like if the reverb from this takes a little of the wind out of Boras’ sails.

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    • Cap'n Scrappy says:

      Mike Ilitch’s bank account > Fred Wilpon’s bank account

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    • Eric Cioe says:

      When I watch the Tigers, I see big names winning.

      When I watch the Mets … oh wait, no one watches the Mets.

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  39. John C says:

    Ilitch is just trying to buy himself a ring before he dies. Nothing more. He doesn’t care if he loses money. When Ewing Kauffman, the founder of the Royals, was old, he did the same thing, and kept on doing it even after he did win a ring in 1985. The Royals lost millions of dollars for years, but Kauffman kept covering the losses until he died. It’s hard to believe for anyone under the age of 35, but there was a very long time when K.C. carried one of the highest payrolls in the game.

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    • Mark says:

      Cabrera was already signed for two more years. They didn’t buy anything. Meanwhile, they dumped Doug Fister for prospects and appear ready to let Max Scherzer walk at the end of the season.

      As for Dave’s point about losing Cabrera if they didn’t extend him, they still could have extended him any time over the next 18 months.

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      • Eric Cioe says:

        I’m guessing they had inklings into Fister’s health. They did not get enough back, I’ll agree with that.

        They are willing to let Scherzer walk because Scherzer has had one elite year. Verlander was elite and durable for several years before they paid him. Cabrera too.

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    • Pumpsie Green says:

      Oh, the Kauffmans made out pretty well, as far as investments go. I doubt they lost money year-over-year. Maybe they made less than they could have, but they probably didn’t lose money. Owning a baseball team has been one of the best things you could do with your money over the past couple of generations. Owning the Royals may not be as lucrative as owning another franchise, but it’s better than owning, say, a lawnmower factory. Just ask Guggenheim about the profit margins in MLB!

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  40. TKDC says:

    The point about 1/30 is amazing. I’d never really thought about that. I just have to wonder if the Tigers offered him $50 million less, would he really have walked away from that? And to me that would still be an overpay.

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  41. Los says:

    This deal just worked out for the Angels with Pujols. I think that this deal will be fantastic.

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  42. JC says:

    Matt Holliday came back and resigned with the Cardinals after hitting the market.

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    • Big in Japan says:

      Not a good comp. The Cards/Holiday came to a free agent/extension agreement after a mid-season trade.

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      • JC says:

        The Cardinals acquired Mark McGwire at the 1997 deadline and signed him to an extension a month later. They acquired Scott Rolen at the 2002 deadline and signed him to a contract extension in late September of that year. It can happen. Of course the Cardinals are the outlier here. When they re-sign guys in season it works out. And when they wait until free agency it works out. And when they let them walk it works out. So maybe the fact that it’s Cardinals is the reason it’s not a good comp.

        GO CARDS!!!

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    • chuckb says:

      after 2 months of being with the team.

      It’s not the same as the point Dave was making about teams electing not to extend players only to re-sign them later. The Cards never chose not to extend Holliday.

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  43. Bill says:

    The Tigers just brough on Ruben Amaro as assistant GM to negotiate this deal, everyone needs a scapegoat.

    In other unrelated news, in a bid to finally bring the leagues into union the DH has been eliminated…what bridge does Dombroski jump from if that comes into play?

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  44. DD says:

    If they REALLY had to extend him, why not do it for 5 years, then go year to year like Ortiz?

    Also, they basically made the choice of doing this deal and letting Scherzer walk (and trading Fister to free up cash), vs. overpaying Scherzer in order to keep him and losing Miggy in 2 years (based on Dave’s rationale of players walking without extensions). This assumes finite money, as they seemed set on Miggy getting paid or Scherzer staying, with Fister the odd man out to free up the funds. Which is the better option?

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  45. jiveballer says:

    Hey, at least Cabrera isn’t already obviously a few years into his decline phase.

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  46. isavage30 says:

    Of those free agent contracts that were greater than $50 million, how many of them were age 33 or older? I seriously doubt anyone would outbid what the Tigers gave him today, or even come close to it. I could understand this contract if it was a free agent contract. But 2 years from free agency, for a guy who was just gimping around a few months ago? That injury, and the toll it likely took on his body to play through it, would scare the crap out of me for extending Cabrera. It wouldn’t be surprising if Cabrera is a shell of his current self in 2 years, when his original contract was set to expire, much less 10.

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  47. MajorDanby says:

    Wow. 31 years old. 1st baseman. $292 million. Wow.

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  48. Eric Cioe says:

    This is the price you pay to keep elite players. I’m pretty sure he’s not going to be hitting .330/.400/.600 in his dotage, but there’s no reason to think he can’t hit, say, .290/.360/.500 at age 39. He’s got lots of hitting skill to erode before he’s no longer useful. As far as health: I’m not worried about it. He’s been durable and you can’t predict it anyway.

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    • MajorDanby says:

      “but there’s no reason to think he can’t hit, say, .290/.360/.500″

      really?

      “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%”

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      • Eric R says:

        Hey, cut him some slack– lots of 39-year-olds have hit like that.

        An .860 OPS in Comerica Park is roughly a 135 wRC+ — lets see, min 450 PA since the end of the deadball era:
        Barry Bonds 233
        Ted Williams 179
        Hank Aaron 177
        Babe Ruth 157
        Willie Mays 141
        Eddie Collins 140
        Willie Stargell 137

        Joe Kuhel 131
        Reggie Jackson 129
        Willie McCovey 129

        So all he needs to do is be the top 0.01% of hitters, easy-peasy

        +8 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • Eric Cioe says:

          Thanks for posting this list of Miguel Cabrera’s peers.

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        • LK says:

          His peers who *aged well*. And it should be noted, most of the guys on that list, which is the best possible scenario, still weren’t worth what Miggy will be getting paid.

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    • Michael Crassenbender says:

      Oh well, if you can’t predict it anyway, then every deal is fine. Good point.

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    • TKDC says:

      I went ahead and looked at the last 40 years for this. I set the barrier at 400 PAs to be generous. There have been 19 seasons of .290 batting average by guys 39 or older, and 11 seasons of slugging .500 or better, and Barry Lamar Bonds has three of them. Fun side note, the 4th highest on the list is Matt Stairs 2007 season with the Blue Jays, when he slugged .549 in 405 PAs. He was worth 1.4 WAR.

      13 seasons of at least 3 WAR over the last 40 years, and again three of those were Barry Lamar Bonds (and three were also Carlton Fisk, and two were Darrell Evans, so only 8 total players have been worth 3 WAR in a season age 39 or later in the last 40 years).

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  49. Hoosier says:

    If he stays healthy, and that’s a big if of course, I have no worries about Cabrera staying at the top of his game for a long time similar to Ortiz.

    This is the best hitter of his generation- tell me who’s better?- and is an absolute freak with a bat in his hand. The guy’s brilliant and does things that nobody else can. Just take a look at all the amazing GIF files put together on this very site demonstrating his plate coverage. Neither Pujols, A-rod, or Trout, can or ever hit like that.

    I understand that this de-values his base running and defense- but from a pure hitting stand point nobody comes close to him. He may not be the best player in the majors right now, but its close, and he’s certainly the second best.

    Plus, he’s a Tigers legend. Like Dave said, he’d probably leave the team in two years if this didn’t get done now. You can bring up the example of the Cardinals, but who’s to say that the Tigers are clever enough to pull off what they’ve done without Pujols? You can’t just point to them, and say, “see, you should do the same thing!”. It isn’t as easy as that. Much easier- albeit less efficient and possibly marginally less effective- to just lock Cabrera up long term.

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    • JC says:

      During the 2004-2013 period when Cabrera has played, Pujols has been better. In half as many at bats, Votto has been better. In a quarter of the at bats, Bonds and Trout have been better.

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      • Hoosier says:

        By what metric have any of those guys been a better HITTER than Cabrera? Both peak and average value is what I am looking for. Not talking best player, talking best hitter here.

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      • Hoosier says:

        Does anybody here seriously think that Cabrera has not been the greatest HITTER of our generation (throwing Bonds out of the mix just because of the PED issues)? You could make a case for A-rod, but again the PED’s complicate things.

        Somebody mentioned that Joey Votto was a better hitter over his career. Really? By what metric? How can Cabrera’s WAR be so high, when his defense and baserunning are poor? Obviously because he is a phenomenal, freak of nature type hitter.

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        • LK says:

          Does Albert Pujols really not exist anymore?

          +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

        • arc says:

          Yes, he is not the greatest hitter of his generation. Why are you asking people about this? Go to the leaderboards and argue with the data.

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        • JC says:

          Quit making the fine people of Indiana look bad with your obtuseness. Click on the ding dang ol leaderboard at the top of this page and see for yourself.

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        • Arc says:

          Just so everyone’s clear, you deliberately selected a starting point of 2005 because it’s the only way you could possibly find any data to support your conclusion. 2005 was neither Cabrera’s first year nor his first full year. If you go by either of those, Pujols is back on top just like he is by every other metric. So you selected 2005 purely to suit your bias.

          You are a dishonest little shit pretending other people are disregarding data after tediously manipulating anything you could find to help you avoid the facts.

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      • Cory says:

        LMAO at saying Votto is better. You’re an idiot.

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    • Michael Crassenbender says:

      Andrew McCutchen is better.

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  50. bookbook says:

    The Tigers just escaped learning an important lesson with the Prince Fielder contract. I’m sure they feel confident that, if this shows signs of going down the Ryan Howard path, they’ll be able to unload the last several years without too much pain.

    This, combined with Ilitch’s understandable desire to have as good a team as possible for the next 3-5 years, led them to make what looks to us like a ridiculous overpay. I’m surprised they couldn’t pull it off for 40-50 million less, but I’m not surprised that in this situation the team wanted to lock him in for the next several years more than the player did.

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    • Hoosier says:

      Cabrera far better than either of those two. He’ll go down as one of the best hitters of all time and probably the best pure hitter of the last 20 years (Pujols may take it, but I doubt it).

      That’s the difference.

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      • Cool Lester Smooth says:

        Pujols is unqualifiedly better at hitting than Miguel Cabrera.

        He walks more, Ks less and hits for more power with a lower BABIP. There’s a 10 point gap in wRC+.

        It’s not a matter of opinion. Pujols was better.

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  51. MajorDanby says:

    “Counter Point: Funds are never unlimited; wasting resources is never helpful.”

    This is even more true in baseball where one player doesnt have that much of an impact on a team’s success. If Lebron James got this kind of contract, I wouldn’t be all that surprised since his presence (of course, not considering the NBA cap) on the court has such a large impact on the result of the game, not to mention what kind of externalities he provides off the court since NBA marketing is so superstar driven.

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  52. ramsey says:

    Regarding signing him early — if we assume that players are more risk averse than teams, then there should always be gains to signing players early. Even though there is only downside risk here, Cabrera should be willing to accept a lower wage than he expects to receive in 2 years in return for insurance against the possibility of unexpected decline over the next 2 years.

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  53. Jon Heyman says:

    Apparently none of you bothered to read my article over at cbssports.com. But whatevs!

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    • Tim says:

      Hilarious article. I love the “quadruple” and “quintuple” crowns cabrera has won and how it’s BA, OBP, SLG, and OPS. He doesn’t seem to realize that if you lead in OBP and SLG, you automatically lead in OPS as well

      +10 Vote -1 Vote +1

  54. Radivel says:

    A better use of $292mil would have been to buy the Marlins through a proxy and trade the rest of the team to the Tigers.

    +14 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • TKDC says:

      And then rename the team the Perfectos or Superbas, right? You know this has been done before, right? Like 115 years ago.

      But yes, if that were possible that would be way better. You are right.

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    • Llewdor says:

      Ah, yes, the Cleveland Spiders plan…

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    • Cool Lester Smooth says:

      See, the real way to go about it is the Yankees-Royals relationship in the 60s, where they were just our farm system.

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  55. Vladimir Putin says:

    Meester Eelitch, if you want ring that bad, I got one I gladly sell you for half that price.

    +18 Vote -1 Vote +1

  56. Pumpsie Green says:

    Dave projects Cabrera to tally 32 WAR over the next 10 years. Up to now, Detroit has paid $3M/WAR (mostly free agent years); this will bring it to $400M for a total expected 68 WAR – about $6M/WAR on average. Sounds about right.
    From Cabrera’s side, if he adds another 32 WAR in 10 years he will have been paid $408M for 86 WAR. That’s about $4.75M/WAR career. Again, sounds about right to me.
    Miguel Cabrera has done well by baseball. But baseball has also done well by Miguel Cabrera.
    These contracts are the price MLB pays for 3 minimum-salary years and 3 below-market arbitration years.

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    • LK says:

      Under this kind of analysis A-Rod comes out looking like he’s not overpaid as well.

      But this misses the point. Players are not meant to earn FA money over their *entire* careers. They’re meant to be underpaid for 7 years, then paid (inflated) FA prices for the remainder of their careers. The price MLB pays for the team-control years are the market value FA contracts; the Tigers just paid Miggy WAY more than that.

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      • Pumpsie Green says:

        Alex Rodriguez was NOT overpaid, in the context of his marketplace. Consider the entirety of MLB his employer, and his employer should view it as money well-spent. You may dicker that one division of his company paid an inordinate amount in relation to his production. But you can’t say he was overpaid for what was a stellar career.

        Detroit got a huge discount in the first half of Cabrera’s free-agent years (Florida an even bigger bargain for those controlled years, as you intimate). Detroit may have overpaid for the last half (debatable, as Jeff Sullivan’s article shows), but it all evens out in the end. And really, should/does Cabrera even care who is paying the bill, as long as it’s paid? He was paid fairly for his career.

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    • arc says:

      Checkmate, Atheists!

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  57. Ethan says:

    ESPN is reporting that the deal has a vesting option for an additional 2 years / $60 million, putting him under contract for 12 years / $352 mil total.

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  58. John Elway says:

    Just shows you the value of a Triple Crown.

    +15 Vote -1 Vote +1

  59. Will says:

    Too bad no business aspects were looked into. There’s baseball, and the business of baseball. Trust me, there’s a difference. Cabrera will create a generation of fans that will attend games and create revenue long after he takes off his jersey.

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    • tz says:

      Assuming he plays close to current form for most of the contract. Because he is legitimately an all-time great hitter, I’ll use his top 10 baseball-reference comps as possible scenarios:

      http://www.baseball-reference.com/friv/scomp_bat.cgi?I=cabremi01:Miguel+Cabrera&st=age&age=-31&compage=30

      Hank Aaron – jackpot for Tigers, especially if there’s an all-time HR record being chased

      Frank Robinson/Mel Ott/Al Kaline – great players fading before 40, Cabrera isn’t embarrassing himself by the time he makes his farewell tour.

      Mickey Mantle – forced to retire early

      Ken Griffey Jr./Juan Gonzalez/Andruw Jones/Duke Snider – career past age 30 best forgotten.

      So excluding Pujols, 4 of the 9 retired players left the game still looking the part of a star, 1 left as a “what might have been”, and 4 left looking like far less than they had been.

      I’m guessing it’s about as likely that Cabrera will be an all-time Detroit sports hero as it will that he just becomes a resented albatross.

      +10 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Naliamegod says:

      Studies shown “star power” doesn’t help attendance. Winning does

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      • Hoosier says:

        True, but the surest way to help you win is by having a superstar on your team. I know, it may not work out, but there’s no guarantee that losing him in two years and then spending the money elsewhere will either. I’d argue the odds are less in your favor.

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    • arc says:

      Ok, I trust you.

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  60. Lewie Pollis says:

    Good analysis, Dave. I’m not sold that this was really the only way to keep Cabrera, though.

    Building on JJ’s point above, there’s another sample bias problem with citing the history of $50MM club as justification for this extension: the heterogeneity both of teams’ perceptions of how good players are and of how much better a given player would make each team.

    The causal relationship that connects those marquee players not being extended and their not resigning once they hit free agency isn’t a direct one—the latter needs the former, but it does not flow directly from it. The reason these big-name players have fled for greener pastures is almost always the green. If a player can get a better deal somewhere else, he usually will take it. A team that isn’t willing to offer a player a deal enticing enough to stop him from hitting FA probably won’t be willing to beat the best other team’s offer once he reaches the open market. Not offering a competitive is a symptom of a team’s valuing its player lower than the market, not a cause.

    Letting Cabrera hit FA would certainly have left open the chance for someone to snatch him away if, say, he was personally offended that the Tigers let him walk or some other team goes nuts in the bidding. But if the Tigers were willing to pay him what it took to lock him up now I don’t think they would have had much trouble resigning him in two years.

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  61. chuckb says:

    So, how much money do we have to move from Cabrera to Marte to make BOTH deals fair for both team and player?

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  62. Bill says:

    Curious, what happends if he retires? Is the money still guaranteed? One of my favorite players Schmidt was very prodcutive until 37 (but a much better defensive and runner in his time) but by 39 the shoulder just wouldn’t cooperate and he retired. Could Cabrera do this and would that negate the rest of the contract?

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  63. just saying says:

    Scherzer demanded 8 years / $200 Million.

    The Tigers weren’t doing to lose both players.

    Perhaps Miggy was asking for $40M a year for 10 years, and he settled for $30M.

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  64. just saying says:

    The Tigers weren’t planning on having Alex Gonzalez at SS. Their starting SS, Jose Iglesias, is hurt.

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  65. State Farm says:

    We’ve decided that Cabrera will be ineligible for life insurance coverage after 2018.

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  66. just saying says:

    and Mike Trout gets a $50M a year valuation. Not sure I’d want to pay anyone that at any age. Makes $30M look like nothing.

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  67. waynetolleson says:

    I love how Dave couldn’t resist the dig at Derek Jeter, saying he wasn’t a premier free agent. Thanks to this website and Dave Cameron’s courageous reporting, I now understand that of all the players in baseball history in the top 5-10 all-time in hits and runs scored, Derek Jeter is certainly the most overrated.

    -6 Vote -1 Vote +1

  68. Johnny says:

    Trout will get at least $50 million per in 2017 offseason. I could see him getting $600 million.

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  69. dougiejays says:

    Wasn’t ARod technically a free agent in 2007?

    Also…shouldn’t there be an inflation adjustment for a contract of this length? For example, ARod’s original contract wouldn’t have looked so bad in 2011 when guys like Vernon Wells were pulling in $21M.

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  70. Poo says:

    Well it is a terrible deal to give anyone, but I’m resigned to the fact that it isn’t my money and the owner can blow it in any way he sees fit. I just hope as a fan it doesn’t ruin future chances at success for the Tigers.

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  71. Tim says:

    With all the extensions being signed, I don’t think it’s out of the question that we’ll see substantial inflation over the next few years due to far fewer players hitting the market. Part of the reason those teams are going into the season with black holes in their lineups is it was really hard to upgrade at several positions this year.

    We’re used to first basemen being readily available from the previous era, but if you want to upgrade at first base next offseason the number one guy right now is Corey Hart and it falls off dramatically from there. If that trend continues it might not be such a bad idea to lock a guy up early.

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    • pft says:

      Fewer players hitting the market means their impact will be less. Also, extensions by definition should be below market value, so if anything more extensions should reduce salary inflation. We have already seen this years teams will not overpay for non-elite free agents, so fewer elite free agents means less impact on overall salary inflation, even if individual deals may be inflated .

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  72. JKB says:

    So we will be on Star Wars Episode XI when he retires. Wonder if Cabrera or Star Wars yield the higher ROI for their respective franchise owners by then.

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  73. Hoosier says:

    Great article by Jonah Keri which is highly critical of the Cabrera signing, but still backs me up by saying he’s the best hitter on the planet.
    http://grantland.com/the-triangle/detroit-tigers-sign-miguel-cabrera-to-historic-contract/

    He also makes the point that for Cabrera to justify this type of money he’d need to be one of the top 10 players of all time. That’s what Illitch and Dombrowski seem to be betting on. A big bet, I know, but still that’s the logic.

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    • Tim says:

      It’s essentially impossible for him to be a top 10 player of all time. He’s been worth what, 55.1 WAR? The current 10th best position player, Stan Musial, was worth 126.8 WAR. Even since 1950, the cutoff is 96.1 WAR from Joe Morgan. I think it’s safe to say that Cabrera won’t reach either of those totals

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      • Ruki Motomiya says:

        55.1 WAR, yes. If you basically said he’d replicate his past 10 years, then he would end up around 100 WAR, which isn’t 10th all time but close enough…of course, that assumes Miggy continus being the best hitter around into his 40s.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

        • whatwhatwhat says:

          So he will not age like the 99.999% of players before him? Right….he will stay at a 6WAR pace for his entire career and the notion of “decline-phase” will not apply to Cabrera. Ok…

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        • Cool Lester Smooth says:

          Well, he’s been the 33rd best player from 20-30 of all time, and the 17th best hitter.

          The normal rules don’t apply to guys like Miggy, because their base is just so high.

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  74. Umpire Weekend says:

    I just saw a headline on MSN.com “Viola could fetch $45M”

    Please tell me they don’t mean Frank Viola. After the Miggy deal, I could believe anything right now.

    +6 Vote -1 Vote +1

  75. Rally squirrel says:

    Say what you will about fielder, he was still a threat pitchers took seriously. To some extent they were facing his previous season’s numbers. Miggy benefitted and had his best power seasons. He may be hard pressed as early as this year to duplicate those numbers with vmart backing him up.

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  76. pft says:

    Poor Dave, he just does not get it. Teams recognize that offense is a rare commodity. They value it more than WAR does. Cabrera is the best hitter in the game and nobody is even close, not even Cano

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  77. Jordan says:

    Doubt you’ll get this far down in the comments, Dave, but if you do, it would be interesting to see a piece on how good he’d have to be to live up to this deal and how many players in history have been that good at those ages.

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  78. miffleball says:

    “Counter Point: There isn’t one. This deal is a ridiculous overpay.”

    I love that these statements get made now without any rigorousness to them…this site has long used 0.5 WAR reductions per year to calculate expected contract WAR. Cabrera averaged ~7 WAR per year over the last three, so if you give him 7 this year with the ongoing decline, you’d expect 47.5 WAR over the lifetime of the contract. Given that Dave has said that this offseason contracts project, using a system similar to this one, to be valuing free agent WAR between 6 and 6.5 million/WAR, that multiplies out to 285 million, or right about what they paid

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    • Anthony says:

      except the standard -.5 WAR/yr model goes out the window when your talking about a player going into his late 30’s/40’s, especially with a bda body and nearly zero defensive value.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  79. John Elway says:

    Let’s not lose sight that the Tigers just locked up one of the few Triple Crown winners EVER (only 6 in the last 50 years!):

    1901: Nap Lajoie
    1909: Ty Cobb
    1919: Sir Barton
    1922: Rogers Hornsby (again in 1925)
    1930: Gallant Fox
    1933: Jimmie Foxx
    1933: Chuck Klein
    1934: Lou Gehrig
    1935: Omaha (Peyton’s favorite)
    1937: Joe Medwick
    1937: War Admiral
    1941: Whirlaway
    1942: Ted Williams (again in 1947)
    1943: Count Fleet
    1946: Assault
    1948: Citation
    1956: Mickey Mantle
    1966: Frank Robinson
    1967: Carl Yastrzemski
    1973: Secretariat
    1977: Seattle Slew
    1978: Affirmed
    2012: Miguel Cabrera

    +12 Vote -1 Vote +1

  80. Charles Barkley says:

    Miguel Cabrera’s contract is turrible.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  81. Greg says:

    Detroit being irresponsible with money, paying no heed to the future? Say it ain’t so.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  82. rea says:

    The thing is, of course, that baseball salaries aren’t staying the same–they’re inflating, at much more than the general rate of inflation in the economy. So, a long term contract that seems outlandish today may seem a lot more reasonable 8 years down the road.

    http://www.blessyouboys.com/2014/3/29/5560546/projecting-miguel-cabreras-record-contract

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  83. BillyF says:

    “Team owners should act as organizational stewards, not self interested overlords”… That’s funny. In the real world with owners such as Ban Johnson, Connie Mack, Comiskey, and a bunch of a-holes, then lately with liars like Loria, McCourt, and Wilpon… you better not argue that owners don’t find their club to serve their own interest because they have moral obligations. If they did, then investing on prevention to further Global Warming or opening more jobs for the poor to save American economy should be their priority.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  84. BenRevereDoesSteroids says:

    “There is no such thing as a team that simply has so much money that salary is not a prohibitive restriction to adding talent.”

    Except the Yankees. The market for baseball players keeps the Yankees from buying new talent like the market for mild keeps Bill Gates from filling his cereal bowl in the morning.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  85. Andrew says:

    Two Points:

    A) The Cardinals offered Pujols 200 million dollars, they got LUCKY that the Angels blew them away.

    B) The Cardinals farm system was far more stocked than the Tigers currently is. The Tigers can’t really hope to replace even most of Miggy’s value in the way that the Cardinals could Pujols.

    Not saying the contract the Tigers gave Miggy is perfect, but let’s not put the Cards on a pedestal, or try to compare the two situations, they’re entirely different.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  86. DodgersKings323 says:

    I dig it! We’ll see you in October Tiggers!

    Vote -1 Vote +1

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