It is impossible to bring up Miguel Cabrera without also bringing up Mike Trout. The American League MVP debate the past two seasons between the two superstars has been one of the most fascinating baseball arguments in recent memory. So after Miguel Cabrera agreed to a monster contract extension on Thursday, Mike Trout just couldn't help but do the same on Friday night.
The Tigers Made the Right Move By Extending Miguel Cabrera
Miguel Cabrera has had a historic career up to this point. There is no limit to the amount of impressive stats Cabrera has compiled to this point in his incredible 11 year MLB career. Two straight MVPs, a 2012 Triple Crown, seven straight years of 30 or more home runs, a batting average of at-least .292 and 103 RBIs every full season in the big leagues, and so much more.
Cabrera was traded to the Tigers in December of 2007 alongside Dontrelle Willis for a bunch of top prospects who never fully panned out, including Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller. A few months later the Tigers signed Miggy to a 8 year $152.3M extension through the 2015 season.
With two years and $44M remaining on his deal, the Tigers decided that it was time to lock Cabrera up for the rest of his career. On Thursday night they agreed to add an additional 8 years $248M to his already huge contract. This brings the total commitment to Cabrera to 10 years $292M. He is now the player with the highest average annual value in the history of professional team sports and has topped Alex Rodriguez's 10 year $275M contract for largest in baseball history.
The question then becomes, is he worth all of that money? I'm going to explain exactly why I think he is worth every penny.
The Tigers have had a puzzling off-season starting with a trade out of no where of Prince Fielder for Ian Kinsler. The trade saved the Tigers around $76M that they could spend elsewhere. While they had been rumored to be shopping a starting pitcher, no one expected Doug Fister to be the odd man out. They sent Doug Fister to the Nationals for Steve Lombardozzi(who they would later trade for a 37 year old player on a minor league deal), and prospects Robbie Ray and Ian Krol. These two moves helped the Tigers afford to fill a void they had last season by dishing out a two year $20M contract to closer Joe Nathan. But most surprisingly they publicly balked at Max Scherzer's contract demands. Scherzer is a free agent after the season and could be the other player the Tigers were trying to save money to sign. However, after the public statements made in the last week and his agent Scott Boras' tendency to take his clients to the open market, Scherzer may be leaving Detroit for good.
With Fielder and Fister essentially dumped, in addition to Max Scherzer potentially being out the door, the last thing the Detroit Tigers could afford was to lose their superstar first basemen. Many critics are mad at the amount of years given to Cabrera, but if this offseason is any example, if a superstar player hits the open market someone will be willing to fulfill the player's demands. With all of the money the Tigers have saved this winter along with the cash they would save by letting Scherzer walk, the salary owed to Miggy won't harm the Tigers as much as people think. I can almost guarantee that if the Tigers were to wait until Cabrera hit the open market, not only would the contract figures be higher but someone very well may have outbid them. It was a risk that owner Mike Illich and general manager Dave Dombrowski weren't willing to take.
People in the baseball industry who have an issue with the money and years given to Cabrera must realize that baseball is making more revenue than ever before. Due to this influx of cash, salary in contracts are growing larger and larger. If anyone wants the amount of money handed out in contracts to decrease, they should ask for a salary cap in baseball. I am not opposed to a salary cap and in some ways would like one, but until then expect contracts to become increasingly more breathtaking as years pass.
Extending Mike Trout is the Best Catch the Angels Could Make
When the Angels selected Mike Trout with the 25th pick in the 2009 draft they had no idea they were getting as great of a player as they did. Trout has put up arguably the best two seasons to start a career in MLB history. Not including his brief major league stint in 2011, he has a two season average of 119 runs, 33 doubles, 29 home runs, 90 RBIs, 89 walks, 41 stolen bases and a slash line of .325/.416/.561. Wow.
There had been speculation all season long of what Trout could make in a contract extension, and we found out that answer on Friday night. He signed a 6 year $144.5M contract that buys out 3 arbitration and free agency years. By the time the contract is over Trout will be 29 years old. In recent years the amount of money given in arbitration has increased dramatically. We will never know how much Trout would have made in arbitration but some people believe he could have made upwards of $60M in the three years eligible.
Now the question becomes why did Trout take this deal instead of playing out arbitration. My speculation is that he wanted to take a deal to assure that he will be set for life. You hope that all things stay the same for Trout and injuries don't occur but you can never be assured of a long, healthy, and productive career for any player. This was a safe play for him that may cost him some money in the long run but he'll have a chance to have a second large payday when he becomes a free agent in 2020. The Angels are the real winner with this deal. While they were hoping to lock him up for longer than six years, knowing that you have Trout for three extra years of control at a reasonable price for the best player in baseball is a huge plus.
Will Trout make more than Miguel Cabrera by the end of his career? Who knows. What we do know is we have the privilege of watching two of the most talented players who have ever played the game of baseball.
My name is Seth Guttman and I'm a baseball writer for First and Ten Sports. Thanks for reading! If you want to hear my instant reactions from everything around the MLB you can follow me on twitter @RavenNation21. Enjoy the season everyone!