SBD/March 28, 2014/Franchises

Tigers Sign Cabrera To Record Extension, Create Ripples Across MLB Front Offices

Cabrera's deal is the second in baseball history of at least $30M per season
The Tigers and 1B Miguel Cabrera on Thursday agreed to an eight-year, $248M extension, and while execs around MLB hold Cabrera in the "highest regard," they are "appalled" at the move, according to ESPN's Buster Olney. Olney said, "They're asking questions like, 'Why would the Tigers not wait until after the 2014 season to do this, because he's not a free agent until after 2015 and he turns 31 this April.' They're asking questions like, 'Why not give him a three-year extension rather than an eight-year extension?' And they note that Cabrera probably has a future as a DH and the game's best DH, David Ortiz, just got $16 million in his extension, or about half of what Cabrera is going to make. Rival executives fear the ripple effects from this deal" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 3/28).

UPPING THE SALARY ANTE: In Detroit, John Lowe reports the extension, which averages out to an MLB-record $31M per year, is the "second deal in baseball history" worth at least $30M per season. Dodgers P Clayton Kershaw, one year "from free agency, signed a long-term deal" for $30.7M per season during the offseason. The extension puts Cabrera’s "total contract" at 10 years and $292M through '23. That would pass Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez for the "largest lucrative contract in baseball history, by total value" (DETROIT NEWS, 3/28). Also in Detroit, Lynn Henning writes the Tigers have "made him a centerpiece of their past decade’s revival and a source for Comerica Park attendance that has reached the 3 million mark the past two seasons" (DETROIT NEWS, 3/28). ESPN.com's Christina Kahrl wrote the extension "almost automatically makes you wonder if this is what the Tigers decided to do with their entire dividend" from trading 1B Prince Fielder to the Rangers last year (ESPN.com, 3/27). But SI.com's Jay Jaffe wrote the contract "locks in what’s likely to be his decline phase at a fairly steep price" (SI.com, 3/27).

PAYING FOR THE DEAL LATER: ESPN.com's Keith Law wrote under the header, "Miguel Cabrera Deal A Disaster For Detroit." The "issues with the deal are the timing and the length." The timing "makes no sense -- Cabrera had two seasons to go to free agency, and the Tigers could just as easily have taken care of this next winter" (ESPN.com, 3/27). YAHOO SPORTS' Jeff Passan wrote this "may well be the greatest debacle in the desolate baseball wasteland filled with bad-contract carcasses." Passan: "There are mistakes. There are messes. And there is this. This is irresponsible" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 3/27). MLB Network's Ken Rosenthal asked, "Why do this when he has two years left on this deal? Do you fear inflation that much? We have yet to see a 10-year deal to a player in his 30s look really good after the first few years" ("MLB Tonight," MLB Network, 3/27). ESPN's Robert Flores wondered how soon until the Tigers have "buyer's remorse after this deal." ESPN's Scott Van Pelt: "It's like driving off the lot with a car. It’s shiny, but as soon as the wheels are dirty (it depreciates) immediately" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 3/27).

DISASTER WAITING TO HAPPEN? ESPN's Nate Silver said Cabrera's contract is "almost for sure going to be a disaster." Silver: "If you go back and look at the contracts that were signed for this length with guys in their 30s ... almost always these contracts are regretted after five years" ("Olbermann," ESPN2, 3/27). SI.com's Michael Rosenberg writes this contract "will be a disaster." It just "isn't sensible to think he will be an elite player for 10 more years." Cabrera "may play until he is 40, but at a $30-million-a-year level? Highly doubtful." The contract "makes the least sense of all the big baseball contracts in the millennium." Rosenburg: "What was the urgency here? Cabrera turns 31 next month. He has two years left on his contract. Even if Cabrera has another MVP-type season, as I suspect he will, would his price have been that much higher in a year? And even if the price did go up, why couldn't the Tigers just let Cabrera walk as a free agent?" (SI.com, 3/28).

SCHERZER NEXT? ESPN's Manny Acta noted Cabrera's contract could "limit the Tigers" from re-signing P Max Scherzer and "continue to have that good pitching staff." But ESPN's Olney said the Tigers "could sign Scherzer because they're the one team that seems to be comfortable operating with a deficit" ("Baseball Tonight," ESPN, 3/27). Scherzer, who is set to become a free agent after this season, recently turned down a reported six-year, $144M extension with the Tigers (THE DAILY).
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