By Dan Jenkins
With the removal of Prince Fielder, and his enormous contract, the Detroit Tigers’ front office freed up money to sign free agents and potentially extend the contracts of superstars Miguel Cabrera and Max Scherzer.
But should they?
ESPN writer Dan Szymborski wrote a column saying the Tigers need to think twice about giving the Tigers’ two-time American League MVP a long-term contract. Szymborski even suggests that the Tigers should wait for the slugger to enter free agency before offering him a contract.
It’s not a question of Cabrera’s abilities. The problem with signing Cabrera right now is that the Tigers have little leverage as he’s already wealthy and knows that his next contract will almost certainly be the last big payday. He’s not likely to get more expensive, given that he’s at the absolute peak of his game.
Szymborski continues to explain away his argument with a host of sabermetric numbers and says hitters of Cabrera’s type decline fast after the age of 30.
The next team to sign Cabrera, whether it’s the Tigers or another team, doesn’t get to purchase his previous six seasons, they get the right to his next six seasons. All good things come to an end — there are even some nasty rumors about what the sun is planning to do to us in a billion years or so — and Cabrera’s star is no exception. From stars to scrubs, the after-age-30 stories tend to be one of decline as players hurtle inevitably toward retirement. The lessons of previous superstars should not go unlearned.
Szymborski goes on to compare Cabrera to Albert Pujols, the former St. Louis Cardinals slugger whose all star-abilities seemingly left with his departure for the Los Angeles Angles. Pujols signed a 10 year, $240 million deal with the Angels in the winter of 2012.
In win-now mode, the Tigers certainly shouldn’t be looking to trade Cabrera, but they shouldn’t be pulling at the bit to sign him for the rest of his career otherwise. A lot can happen in two years. Cabrera can start to be brought down by nagging injuries or he could just plain start to decline early. If you think it’s impossible, remember how great Albert Pujols was and how relieved the Cardinals must be that they didn’t sign him to an extension before the 2012 season.
What do you think about Szymborski’s argument? Should the Tigers hold off on signing Cabrera to a long-term deal? Or is he a once-in-a-lifetime player who the Tigers should do anything to keep in town?
Vote in our poll to let us know.