Sunday, March 23, 2008

Cabrera Deal

Miguel es muy rico:
Miguel Cabrera and the Detroit Tigers reached a preliminary agreement Saturday on an eight-year, $153.3 million contract extension, a source close to Cabrera told on condition of anonymity.

The Devil is in the details, but pending those, I'd say this is a wonderful deal for the Tigers. Cabrera is one of the best young hitters to emerge is my lifetime, and anytime you can lock up someone like him for his age 25-32 seasons, you make the deal.

As for Cabrera, there will no doubt be some -- Yankees' fans among them, I'm guessing -- who wonder why he doesn't test the free agent waters first. And they're not necessarily wrong, because I'm guessing he could command more if did so. But for all that gets written about the alleged absurdity of players' salaries, ultimately most of these guys want security, and $150M+ is security. Cabrera -- like all players -- no doubt worries about rotator cuffs, ACLs, and Tony Conigliaroifcation, even if only in the back of their minds.

A bigger question than money might be why he would sign this deal before ever playing an inning in Detroit. A risk, I suppose -- he may hate playing there -- but I'm struggling to think of anyone aside from Juan Gonzales who has ever had issues with Detroit for its own sake. The Tigers are blessed with a good, loyal, and knowledgeable fan base. The Detroit media has never been out to get players. While the city itself is, well, Detroit, players only spend a few hours there before retreating back to Grosse Pointe or wherever. The Pistons and Wings have certainly not had many stars want to leave because of geography.

If I'm Cabrera, the two questions I think about -- which are related -- are (1) how long will this team win?; and (2) who will replace Jim Leyland one day? Unless you're the Yankees or Red Sox, the answer to the first question is always going to be up in the air. The second question is important, but Dombrowski has shown that he knows what he's doing here. Apart from those beasts of the east, I'm having trouble thinking of an organization that has its act together as much as the Tigers do right now.

Other than the hundreds of millions of dollars in this contract, there are no guarantees in life. Given the risks and rewards of the situation, this deal, while a potential steal for the Tigers, looks to be pretty good for Miguel Cabrera too.


Eric Toms said...

Craig, I agree. Cabrera certainly could have gotten more as a FA. Good deal for Detroit, he is that great a hitter.

I have a theory that fewer big time players are hitting the FA market because the money has become so big that they can't be bothered to ask for any more. Even they realize at this point that to demand more is absurd. $150, $200 million....??? whatever.

Having said that, I also attribute it to the well publicized notion that fewer big time FAs are on the market in recent years because clubs have realized how inflationary it is to let their best access that market. ( clumsily stated )

There is more money out there. There have been a number of pieces recently detailing the declining % of industry revenues being paid out in salaries. The likes of Cabrera could command some of that money left on the table.

Are agents losing some influence with the players? Going to the mat in negotiations has always been as much about their 5% as the players' compensations, no? Are the players sayin, screw it, sign it, I don't need the hassle?

Anonymous said...

Do you think this increases or decreases Cabrera's commitment to staying in shape?

Craig Calcaterra said...

It's hard to say what lurks in the minds (and stomachs) of men, but short term, I'd say it's good for his waistline.

I think what got him to slim down in the first place was the same thing that's got him ready to sign this deal before even playing in Detroit: enthusiasm for winning, a positive environment filled with potential role models (mostly Magglio, but others as well), and the sense that this is a real, professional organization.

None of that was present in Florida, and I'd guess that they all work to inspire better habits.

Harrison said...

What will keep Cabrera in better shape will be spending his evenings in a posh hotel instead of enjoying the nightlife of South Beach.