The Detroit Tigers rewarded Miguel Cabrera with the biggest baseball contract in history. The 10-year, $292 million contract is $17 million more than the contract the New York Yankees gave Alex Rodriguez in 2007.
The new contract includes the current contract’s last 2 years and $44 million, and he still needs to pass a physical exam. There is an option for two more years that are worth $30 million each. That would bring the contract to a total of $352 million.
Cabrera is not young. He turns 31 in April, but has been a consistent and dominant player. He is a two-time American League MVP and is the only player with 100 or more RBIs in the past 10 seasons. He is the first Tiger to win three consecutive batting titles.
But the contract is receiving a lot of criticism. Jeff Passan at Yahoo! Sports thinks this “could be the biggest contract mistake in MLB history.”
No sport plays the fool like baseball. None is close. Baseball loves guaranteeing ridiculous amounts of money and years to players well past their primes and girding for the steep decline that accompanies them in their mid 30s all the way through their 40s. This is written off as the cost of doing business, which is an insult to the business. This is the cost of being stupid, and organization after organization repeats the mistakes of the past, ignoring what the game teaches about aging players.
They are bad investments. Bad. Investments. Because you know what happens to old players? They break down or decline. Either of those things is bad, and more than 100 years of history supports it. Especially with less PED and amphetamine use, baseball players’ careers rarely reach their 40th birthdays, let alone 40 with a salary of more than $20 million.
Michael Rosenberg at Sports Illustrated points out the other ridiculous contracts offered since 2000 and why this one makes the least sense. The Tigers were laughed at when they gave Prince Fielder a nine-year, $214 million contract in 2012, but he was only 28 years old and will be 36 when it expires. As Rosenberg points out, in sports, there is a very big difference between someone who is 36 and 41, which will be Cabrera’s age when his contract is up.