March 28, 2014

Tigers overpay for Miguel Cabrera at an Albert Pujols and A-Rod level

Speaking of that, congrats to Miguel Cabrera and his agent, firm SFX. With a 10-year contract worth nearly $30M per year (and, with two vesting years, I'm counting this as a likely 10-year contract AFTER the buyout of the two years remaining on his current/old contract1), he's now officially passed Alex Rodriguez in the payroll pantheon.

And, per the "Insider" head-scratchers on the sidebar of the ESPN piece, yes, Dave Dombrowski, you've joined Hank Steinbrenner and Arte Moreno, on the Albert Pujols contract, as "biggest bonehead overpay."

Let's look at it the way I laid it out. I've not seen details of the vesting options, but, given how dumb this was in general, I'm assuming they are player-friendly, and my general scenario holds.

The new contract starts when he's 33. That's one year older than when Pujols was at the start of his current deal and also one year older than A-Rod was at his 2008 extension. Miggy's less of a fielder, even at first, than Pujols. Certainly less in the field than A-Rod was at the start of his contract, and arguably less than A-Rod was at the time of his extension. Even without the two vesting years, this would be an overpay. With them, it's a massive one.

As for the Tigers? I was willing to consider that Dombrowski was still a smart GM after the Doug Fister trade, and definitely after he refused to meet Scott Boras' price on a Max Scherzer extension. No longer. Trading Prince Fielder to save and free up money, then blow it like this?

Per this Twitter pic, unless Miggy has the Honus Wagner, or Mel Ott, or even Frank Robinson fountain of youth somewhere, it's a huge overpay. Not just an overpay, but a huge overpay. And, I doubt it. Wagner and Robinson were both known for defense, one indication of why they aged better. Ott was playing his older years against undrafted "leftovers" during WWII. (Related: This Dave Cameron piece at Fangraphs.)

And, speaking of, Pujols can probably still log at least three more years as a first baseman first without any serious defensive loss. By the time he's 36, Miggy will almost surely have to be installed as a DH first.

Plus, per this blog, what if Miggy pulls another David Freese move behind the wheel? He's been sober a few years, but, still ...

1 — Update: Dombrowski says each of the two additional years vests only if Miggy is in the top 10 in the previous year's MVP voting. So, given Pujols' and A-Rod's track records, it may turn out to only be eight years after the two "eaten" years of Cabrera's old contract have passed.

That said, I still think this is a bad contract. Another reason why? Jon Heyman likes it.

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