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.
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.
Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.
Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.
Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.
The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.
Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.
Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.
The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.
Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.
Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.
Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.