Detroit Tigers May Regret Generous Miguel Cabrera Deal
Most knew that the Detroit Tigers wanted Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera to stay in Detroit beyond 2015, when his old deal would have expired. But few expected the outrageous 10 year/$292 million dollar contract the two agreed to on Friday, sending a ripple through the baseball world.
Cabrera was due $44 million over the final two years of his previous 8 year/$152 million dollar contract. The new deal will add another $248 million over the next eight years, terminating in 2023. The deal is the largest contract in the history of professional sports, beating out Alex Rodriguez‘s 10 year/$275 million dollar contract with the New York Yankees.
There is no denying the greatness of Cabrera or his importance to the Tigers organization. He won the Triple Crown in 2012 as well as a pair of AL MVPs in 2012 and 2013. He’s an 8-time All-Star and has been the AL batting champion in each of the three years since 2011. And last season, his offensive WAR (wins above replacement) of 9.2 was second in all of baseball.
While Cabrera is undoubtedly the best hitter in baseball, Father Time remains undefeated. Cabrera will turn 31 in April, meaning that when his new deal expires he will be 41 years old. History shows that only a handful of players have been able to elude the almost inevitable decline that strikes players as they enter their mid-30s, not to mention their late 30s or early 40s. And there’s no guarantee that Cabrera will stay healthy, as he battled a groin injury late last year causing him to miss 14 games.
The craziest part of the whole situation is that General Manager Dave Dombrowski was not under the least bit of pressure to make a deal happen this soon. This year would not have been Cabrera’s last year to resign, so Dombrowski could have waited to resign him next year with the benefit of seeing how he performs this season and then making his decision. Plus Cabrera had made it clear in the past that he wanted to retire in Detroit so Dombrowski had all the leverage he needed. But instead, the organization ignored its leverage and issued one of the riskiest contracts in sports history.
It is unlikely that Detroit will get a worthy return on their $292 million dollar investment simply because it is such a large amount of money guaranteed for such a long period of time. By the time Cabrera is 36, it is doubtful that he will be able to produce enough to justify the almost $30 million/year he is scheduled to make. While it is possible that the lucrative contract offer could work out for the Tigers, chances are that the brash decision made by the organization will severely cost them in the future.