By: Eric Thomas
What a difference an afternoon makes! In case you haven’t heard, Miguel Cabrera and the Tigers reportedly agreed to terms a multi-year extension. The best hitter in baseball will wear the Olde English “D” for years to come.
Fans that’ve spent much of the off-season characterizing the Tigers’ recent moves as “cutting payroll,” going as far as to speculate on the owner’s health, had their arguments eviscerated when word leaked out about Miggy’s deal. It’s a contract worth eight plus years and in the $300 million range. If you’re trying to cut payroll, that’s a funny way of doing it.
The move also represents—what seems like—a strategy shift for the team. The Tigers have spent the last few years casting a wide net, scooping up high dollar free agents and signing them to lucrative contracts, especially in 2012 when they inked Prince Fielder to a head-scratching nine year deal worth $212 million. While they can’t be counted out of the free agent market in the future, it’s unlikely they’re going to go down that road again.
There were concerns, when Prince was signed, that the money would be scarce when Miguel Cabrera’s contract reached its end, and Miggy might spend the later years of his career elsewhere, because at some point, money becomes a finite resource. Some shifted in their chairs nervously (yrs. truly included) and pledged to have fun until that day came. That day will never come. Miguel Cabrera is a Tiger, and will likely remain here until he decides he doesn’t want to be, and Prince took his laissez-faire attitude and talent for disappearing in the postseason to Texas.
If we’re going to have a Big Papi, it might as well be Miggy.
Here’s the strategy shift: the Tigers have their centerpieces. Cabrera and Verlander are signed with team in perpetuity, or at least as close to perpetuity as one can get in the mart of modern baseball. These will be the two pillars that the Tigers can build around. There will probably be an effort to flex the farm system in the next year or so because it’s been decimated as of late from trades, and there may be free agents when they make sense, but here’s the reason why you need to be smiling (and this blog has such a celebratory tone): the last three AL MVPs are all Tigers, and it’s going to be that way for years.
There will be injuries, there will be up and down years, but the Tigers’ foundation is one of the most solid—if not the—in baseball.
This blog is also slightly celebratory because Jeff Riger was wrong about the Tigers scaling back the payroll. I’m not going to waste any time or pixels on some immature taunt—WHEN’S YOUR INAUGURATION? AS THE MAYOR OF WRONGTOWN?!—cooler heads should prevail here. This is a great day, not just for the city of Detroit, but for Tigers fans all around Michigan. You can party downtown Monday without any butterflies.
This team throws a lot of curveballs, that’s for sure. As soon as you think you have them figured out, they do something like this. Dombrowski had a three egg omelette on his suit on Monday, after the ridiculous (and somewhat catty) media leak about Max Scherzer’s contract negotiations. Then they pull this rabbit out of their hat.
Whatever. It’s the start of baseball and we don’t have to worry about Cabrera’s future with the team. Excuse me; I’m going to go buy some salsa.