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.