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Should the Tigers shop Miguel Cabrera?

Nov 24, 2009, 8:55 AM EDT

The Detroit News’ Lynn Henning is speculating/fantasizing this morning about the Tigers trading Miguel Cabrera.  Cabrera for Clay Buchholz is mentioned.  Like so many other stories this time of the year it’s based on nothing other than a no comment from a General Manager and informed speculation (i.e. the fact that the Red Sox could clearly use and afford the guy), but such is the wood that keeps the hot stove burning.

I think the key thing animating this topic is not to immediately assume that just because a guy has a high salary that he should be moved when a team is cost cutting as the Tigers are presumed to be doing.

Yes, certainly Cabrera is the most expensive Tiger, but is he unreasonably expensive? Cabrera will make $20 million in 2010 and 2011, and beyond that he will make $21 million in 2012 and 2013, and $22 million in 2014 and in 2015.  If you believe the values that FanGraphs places on players based on their production, Cabrera’s 2009 season was worth around $24 million. His 2009 production: just about his career averages. Those prices? Probably at or even below what any given team will pay for its best player between now and 2015.

Cabrera will be 32 years-old at the end of this deal.  If he stays healthy, it’s reasonable to assume that he’ll earn his keep from a production perspective through the length of the contract.  The Tigers will still need to pay a first baseman. They will still need someone to hit the ball. They will still need to give fans a reason to come to the park. Cabrera is likely to provide all of those things, and even if it’s at a high rate of pay, it’s not at an unreasonable rate of pay based on what he can do with the bat.  Value, in other words, is more important than cost.

But as Henning notes, health is a complicated issue for Cabrera. Was that incident on the final weekend of the season isolated, or is he a booze hound in training?  If the former, you have to keep Cabrera, I think, and do everything you can to keep him on the straight and narrow.  If the latter, take whatever you can get for the guy and go on your merry way. 

  1. Old Gator - Nov 24, 2009 at 9:34 AM

    When Cabrera played down here in Nuevo Macondo his avoirdupois was already an issue as a rookie. He had no drinking incidents that I can recall – and if he did, Dontrelle Willis distracted the media by poaching himself of a fateful evening and relieving himself in front of one of the most popular nightclubs on South Beach. He had been recently married so perhaps he could be forgiven.
    But Miggy had all sorts of issues that you could see would manifest in the prime of his career in unfortunate ways – weight-related chronic injuries to joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, hooves, spinal discs and assorted other cartilage. Hell, his DL career will read like a menu in an Irish restaurant within the next two or three years. That, and he always ran the bases like he was mounted on a set of caterpillar treads.
    If the Tiggers can make a sweet deal for him before he gets pickled and falls off the platform during one of Hugo Chavez’ next local rallies, they should go ahead and do so. There are plenty of teams that would love to have him on their disabled list – the Mets, the Beanbags, the Rays….

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  3. Jeff H - Nov 24, 2009 at 12:22 PM

    Pay no attention to Lynn Henning, a great GM (in his own mind) masquerading as a baseball writer. The guy is a hack who just likes to stir things up. He is constantly promoting the next great thing coming form the Tiger’s minor league system. However, the next great thing rarely lives up to his build up. His current love affair is with Ryan Streiby. To make room for Streiby, the Tigers need to move either Cabrera or Carlos Guillen. Henning has had similar love affairs with Jeff Larish, Brent Clevlen, Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller over the years. He is already lamenting losing Mauricio Robles to Seattle in the Washburn trade. He evidently thinks Robles is the next John Smoltz.

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