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Olney: MLB executives are “appalled” over the Miguel Cabrera extension

Mar 27, 2014, 8:47 PM EDT

The Tigers have reportedly reached agreement on an extension with Miguel Cabrera which will pay him $292 million over the next 10 years and keep him under contract through at least his age-40 season. If the deal is announced as a 10-year extension, it will be the biggest financial commitment in sports history. While both parties are obviously happy with the new mega-deal, ESPN’s Buster Olney hears that executives around MLB are in shock:

Cabrera is entering his age-31 season now, so it’s not exactly bold to say that this deal probably won’t look very good in the end. Yes, he’s the best hitter in the world right now, but players get old and decline and the odds are against him being the exception. There’s also the matter of timing, as he was already under contract for two more seasons. Was there really a sense of urgency to get this done at this very moment? There’s a ton of money in the game right now and there’s an argument to be made that the players aren’t getting enough of it, but this type of deal just feels unnecessary given his age and what he’s likely to be toward the end of it.

If there’s anybody who is probably peeved by the news of this extension, it’s the Angels. Sure, there have been extension discussions in recent months, but can you imagine what Mike Trout will (or should) demand after this? Oh boy.

124 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. jcmeyer10 - Mar 27, 2014 at 10:35 PM

    I think this is a silly move but good for Miguel. Simply can’t blame a man for getting paid. Even hurt last year I always feared him coming to bat.

  2. kraa0901 - Mar 27, 2014 at 10:36 PM

    Contract not contest**

  3. cohnjusack - Mar 27, 2014 at 10:42 PM

    I hope Cabrera kills it and goes all Hank Aaron, earning every penny of the deal. But we shouldn’t forget that type of aging is extremely rare and has happened to only the extremely small handful of players in baseball history. Odds are, he will decline pretty quickly and most of this deal will look awful. I hope that isn’t the case, but it usually is.

    Honestly, whatever. Players get heavily underpaid in the early part of their careers, then someone heavily overpays them for the end. Maybe we should all stop being so appalled by it.

  4. genericcommenter - Mar 27, 2014 at 11:25 PM

    Players are all underpaid Craig Coldcutterraria told me so.

    • DJ MC - Mar 28, 2014 at 1:12 AM

      Eric Hosmer likes this post.

  5. savior72 - Mar 27, 2014 at 11:37 PM

    Well there’s another AL team that won’t have the financial flexibility to help win a championship for the next ten years. Maybe they can start their own league and play for the money trophy

    • weaselpuppy - Mar 28, 2014 at 12:04 AM

      Lotsa sob sisters out there running MLB teams….the Tigers lost a record 119 games 11 years ago….they got better by being smarter and spending more.

      Kwitcher bitchin’ and commit to winning like Mr Illitch has.

  6. sportsnut101 - Mar 28, 2014 at 12:30 AM

    I rather have him n his contract then Joey votto contract. I never heard of him till the contract

    Why are MLB exc mad not their money

    • djpostl - Mar 28, 2014 at 12:37 AM

      Lol if you hadn’t heard of Votto before his deal you have thw most inaccurate name on these boards.

    • themanytoolsofignorance - Mar 28, 2014 at 5:55 AM

      Ignorant may be part of my name, but….

    • sportsdrenched - Mar 28, 2014 at 9:47 AM

      You had not heard of Joey Votto before this? Do you even watch sports? I mean…seriously…I don’t even …..just GTFO.

    • stlouis1baseball - Mar 28, 2014 at 2:58 PM

      I am not going to even touch on the fact that you stated you hadn’t heard of Joey until the contract. Except for this… sportsnsut101 = oxymoron

      Once you study up on Joey…take a look at his contract.
      Dude could have gotten a lot more.
      I mean…a lot!

  7. Minoring In Baseball - Mar 28, 2014 at 3:04 AM

    This is the nature of the beast in MLB. All top level pro athletes are overpaid, so this contract shouldn’t be that big of a surprise. The Tigers did what they had to do to keep their superstar, and I’m glad he’ll be a Tiger for the rest of his career. Is it a ridiculous amount of money and years? Of course it is…

  8. campcouch - Mar 28, 2014 at 3:51 AM

    I guess after taxes,it doesn’t sound like such a ridiculous sports contract. Ridiculous for me and my meager check,but not for him.

  9. themanytoolsofignorance - Mar 28, 2014 at 6:06 AM

    here’s what I think

    -incentive laden deals for people unlikely to produce the performance are a good gamble for an employer. Miggy will be declining by the time those gaudy incentives come up. Its not likely he’ll be payed out. In the meantime, the employee gets all kinds of warm and fuzzies thinking how much his employer loves him. Neither side loses and the deal looks better than it is. Bottom line? Those incentives are unlikely to be paid out. I wouldn’t count them

    -today’s dollars are worth more than tomorrow’s. This enormous deal today will not be such a big deal in 5 years

    • historiophiliac - Mar 28, 2014 at 8:45 AM

      Don’t forget, he doesn’t just serve the owners by playing on the field. They sell a lot of his jerseys and other things. I’d love to see a breakdown of how much he generates for the team. I don’t know why everyone reduces it just to on field performance (still treating it as a sport instead of a business). But I also don’t get why people gripe about how Ilitch spends his money ( if the believe in freedom and the market, etc). I’m not saying this is a great deal necessarily. I just think people evaluate it strangely or put weird constructions on it. I’m just pondering that — not calling you out.

      • themanytoolsofignorance - Mar 28, 2014 at 8:57 AM

        Good points and I hadn’t considered them at all. He’s their “brand”. In light of that, this might be money well spent. Anther reason why this deal isn’t as over the top people are making it out to be

      • indaburg - Mar 28, 2014 at 9:49 AM

        My thoughts exactly, ‘philiac. Miggy generates a ton of revenue for this team as a by product of his on the field performance. He should be rewarded accordingly.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 28, 2014 at 10:02 AM

        It’s like all the money that amateur NCAA players generate — only they don’t get compensated. The Tigers can slap “Cabrera” or a crown on all kinds of stuff and sell it. I’m pretty sure players’ agents have figures going in that they can flash around. I mean, the real benefit for a team in winning the championship is that it generates income for them (see the post on the BoSox gear selling this winter). Teams with star players like the Yanks make money off of star players — in addition to or in lieu of winning. I would think that actual games don’t contribute as much to team coffers as other stuff. It’s like how bands tour to support music sales.

      • dowhatifeellike - Mar 28, 2014 at 10:18 AM

        It’s not my money or my team so I really don’t care, however, that doesn’t preclude the ability to judge the deal on its merits. It actually makes it easier to step back and look at it from a business perspective.

        I’m sure Cabrera rakes in the dough for Detroit, at least in comparison to other players. He puts butts in seats and sells a lot of memorabilia, but given the value of his contract, it’s really hard to argue that the team will make even half of that back. Is Miguel Cabrera really going to drive $15M in attendance and jersey sales every year? In a city like Detroit? I have my doubts.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 28, 2014 at 10:27 AM

        That’s because you have no actual numbers. People are making judgments here without data. It is silly to make assessments based on partial info or leaving certain considerations out altogether. You have to look at the full package. You and I don’t have that info, but I’m sure teams and agents break it down pretty well. The idea that a team pays a player a ton just because he hits 50 HR a year (or whatever) is crazy if you think about it. What do they get out of that? Bragging rights? They do it to make money — in sales, merchandise, etc. And to welcome new fanbases, attract future players, etc. (And, yes, maybe too for the bragging rights of having a WS if you can get it or an HOF’er in house.)

  10. henryd3rd - Mar 28, 2014 at 6:48 AM

    Little Caesar wants to see his Tigers win a in the World Series in his lifetime. Its his money, he can spend it any way he wants and I ain’t hating on him. But I’m just sayin; $29,000,000.00 per for 10 years! Damn! For a guy who has had some health issues and still has 2 years left on his present deal? Pizza Pizza!!!!

  11. tfilarski - Mar 28, 2014 at 7:27 AM

    get rid of the DH, probably won’t see many contracts like this

  12. spoiledbratswhosuck - Mar 28, 2014 at 7:29 AM

    If that is what capitalism looks like, count me out……………………..

    $352M to hit a baseball? to catch a ball?

    City of Detroit is bankrupt and one man makes $352M

    • timmmah10 - Mar 28, 2014 at 9:28 AM

      I love ignorant comments like this…

    • klingonj - Mar 28, 2014 at 11:54 AM

      that’s because years ago when there were no big long term contracts, cities didnt go bankrupt. so ergo big long term contracts result in cities going bankrupt (sarcasm key off).

      • historiophiliac - Mar 28, 2014 at 2:32 PM

        Also, they took prayer out of schools!

      • jimeejohnson - Mar 28, 2014 at 4:05 PM

        I pray in school: that the day will go fast!

      • renaado - Mar 29, 2014 at 1:44 AM

        LMAO…..jimeejohnson.. School isn’t that bad, for you to even pray just to make it end fast.

    • jtwp61 - Mar 28, 2014 at 1:38 PM

      Would you rather the owners just pocket the money or pay their employees?

  13. unlost1 - Mar 28, 2014 at 9:28 AM

    They didn’t learn from the Pujols deal?

    • timmmah10 - Mar 28, 2014 at 9:30 AM

      Pujols was older, showed signed of decline.

      Miggy has gotten better every season in Detroit… sure he’ll decline during the life of the deal, but we’re talking about THE best hitter in the league. He was going to get paid either way.

      • echech88 - Mar 28, 2014 at 10:39 AM


        So that’s why it happened 2 years before it had to? When Miggy’s value as a player is at it’s absolute peak and had nowhere to go but down?

        His agent should be put on some kind of Mt. Rushmore because this is the most player friendly deal in the history of sports.

        Pretty dick move for an owner about to die to saddle his franchise with these 2 gift baskets to Verlander and Cabrera.

      • dstrong55 - Mar 28, 2014 at 12:44 PM

        Sounds more like jealousy echech88.

        By the way, it’s Illitch’s money. In those famous words, “What difference does it really make?”

        I’m pretty sure that Illitch has the corporations setup so that unless the world implodes this won’t dramatically affect the Tigers (or the Red Wings), except to ensure that they stay competitive for a bunch more years. Wait until after the season, to complain even more, when they sign Scherzer to a long-term deal also.

  14. sportsdrenched - Mar 28, 2014 at 9:53 AM

    As bigger TV deals and inflation infiltrate the game there’s always going to be a bigger, and bigger, contracts. Will the best hitter in the game when this contract is over get a $400 million contract? Probably.

    If you’re appalled at a perceived moral statement this contract makes, I’ll listen to that, but understand that this contract is just a symptom of a perceived problem, not the problem itself.

  15. tysonpunchinguterus - Mar 28, 2014 at 9:55 AM

    This might look insane now, but if the owner is willing to spend the money and doesn’t think it will cripple the team later then let him. Yeah, he won’t be the same hitter when he’s 39. I’m sure the team realizes that but also realizes that in order to have him when he’s 35 they need to pay him past that point. They probably also realize that salaries will continue to rise. Remember when it was crazy to think that a player could make $15 million a year? In another year or 2 that will be the Qualifying Offer for free agents. That used to be a salary only the elite players could touch and now a mid-rotation starter can get that and people won’t think twice about it.

  16. dowhatifeellike - Mar 28, 2014 at 10:05 AM

    I don’t think it would be so shocking if the money wasn’t guaranteed. For all we know he could stink it up for the last 5 years or have major injury problems but he will still get his money. We saw it in Baltimore with Albert Belle– he was still cashing big checks for 3 or 4 years after he was done playing.

    • dstrong55 - Mar 28, 2014 at 12:46 PM

      Yeah, so what? I think the big difference between the Tigers and the Orioles is that the Tiger’s owner (Illitch) actually has a lot of money!

  17. padraighansen - Mar 28, 2014 at 10:10 AM

    There is nothing like an afternoon or a night at the ballpark on a beautiful day – especially if you can take your kids, share some baseball history and stories with them, and get them addicted to the sport like most of us were as kids.

    Except for one thing: The more deals like this there are, the less likely any of us will be to afford more than one game per year, if you’re taking your kids.

    While it’s easy to say the biggest loser in this is the fans, it’s really not. MLB fans will begin acting more like NFL fans, and staying home, watching games in high def, where $400 per year for MLB At-Bat & Extra Innings (162 games) is a drop in the bucket compared to over $700.00 for a family of 4-5 for ONE game.

    So, ultimately, the biggest loser will be MLB, but not for years to come. The magic of baseball is just not the same on TV as it is at the stadium, and for kids – the next generation of MLB buyers – MLB is creating non-affordable product.

    Pigs get fat. Hogs get slaughtered.

    • historiophiliac - Mar 28, 2014 at 10:20 AM

      Well, at home you can watch the replay…also, you don’t have to sit behind other people’s children (OPC are the worst!). I hardly think the NFL is dying because people watch it on TV. If your only income is locals who can make it to the park, you are missing out on big dollars. I only go to a big league park once a year (and never in Detroit), but the Tigers make money off of me in t-shirts and caps and bobbleheads. Also, since I go once a year, I do it big and buy good seats and drop some coin. It’s a splurge.

    • dowhatifeellike - Mar 28, 2014 at 10:22 AM

      How the hell do you figure $700 for a family of 4-5 to go to a game? I go to games for $12.25 a head – $2.25 for the light rail and $10 for the cheap seats. I don’t buy anything at the stadium. Tell the kids to eat before they go.

    • sandwiches4ever - Mar 28, 2014 at 10:26 AM

      This would make sense if attendance were declining in any way, shape, or form. Prices increase because people are willing to pay them to see players like Cabrera play. Then, with more money going to the Tigers, they can pay some share of that to Cabrera.

      Remember: owners can pay these salaries because people want to see these players in person or on TV. That creates demand, which means the prices go up, which means the salaries go up. To assume the prices go up because the salaries go up is to put the cart before the horse.

      • lks311 - Mar 28, 2014 at 10:42 AM

        The Tigers have been relevant since Miggy came to the D and they seem to attract a disproportionate number of Latin players to their ranks. In no small part due to Cabrera’s presence on the team. Money well spent.

      • padraighansen - Mar 28, 2014 at 10:49 AM

        Sorry for the confusion. In no way did I mention that attendance would decline today, tomorrow, or next year. What I am talking about is a long-term obstacle major sports – particularly the NFL and MLB – will face in the next generation, thanks in part to both the rapidly increasing cost of attendance combined with the rapidly improving home technology.

        As for the cost of attendance, I’m not sure where you all are going, but having been to games over the past 3 years from Seattle to Miami, LA to Boston, and a variety of spots in between, the prices are prohibitive. In Milwaukee, for example, I paid $450, after fees and taxes, for 5 seats down the RF line. Factor in parking, a few beers, and some snacks, and we were out close to $600 – in Milwaukee. It was closer to $700 in Arlington last August. And no, we’re not buying memorabilia for the kids at games.

    • sportsdrenched - Mar 28, 2014 at 11:11 AM

      I think you’re misreading the economics of baseball. You’re more valuable to sports leagues BY staying home.

      • padraighansen - Mar 28, 2014 at 12:39 PM

        Interesting comment. Not disagreeing – at all – but curious as to why?

  18. drewsylvania - Mar 28, 2014 at 11:01 AM

    I’m crying a river of tears for you, MLB.

  19. wehavebush - Mar 28, 2014 at 11:45 AM

    If anyone is going to be paid 30MM a year Cabrera deserves it. He will move to DH in 3-4 years and will still be a way above average hitter until this contract expires.

  20. historiophiliac - Mar 28, 2014 at 2:26 PM

    I do love the mental image, though, of the Steinbrenner boys clutching their pearls…

  21. jimeejohnson - Mar 28, 2014 at 4:07 PM

    They’re so appalled they’ll order an extra serving of fois gras at lunch.

  22. fdugrad - Mar 28, 2014 at 5:21 PM

    He is a GREAT hitter,yet he remains a ONE-DIMENSIONAL talent. In addition, he is and has always been overweight. Does ANYONE become slimmer as he ages, especially given his obvious aversion to dieting and working out. Given his lack of conditioning, how will he avoid injuries that players do not typically fall prey to because they are is shape year round during their careers? Unless there is a WS win or two in the next few years, this is simply another highly priced poor decision.

    • tearlw - Mar 30, 2014 at 8:57 PM

      I see your Miggy and raise you a Big Papi and a Panda (the last two WS MVPs).

  23. ballparkprints - Mar 28, 2014 at 5:53 PM

    I have always found it interesting how people react to players getting big contracts. All professional teams are owned by wealthy people who spend every working day increasing their wealth. So why do people who work everyday who also want to increase their own pay take the side of the rich owner and not the worker? If it was me and I could perform on a baseball field like Cabrera I would be asking for that kind of money. Remember the owners do not have to agree to the salary demands from their employees (players) but they always do because in the end it is good for their bottom line.

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