Tag: Prince Fielder

Jurickson Profar

Jurickson Profar participated in fielding drills at second base

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Rangers second baseman Jurickson Profar suffered a torn teres muscle towards the end of March, a big blow to a team already decimated by injuries. The diagnosis estimated his absence at 10-12 weeks, pointing to a June return.

Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star Telegram reports that Profar participated in fielding drills with manager Ron Washington and teammate Donnie Murphy on Saturday. Profar still isn’t cleared to throw and won’t swing a bat for two more weeks, Wilson adds.

Profar was to take over at second base following the Ian Kinsler-Prince Fielder swap with the Tigers over the off-season. In Profar’s absence, the Rangers have started Murphy and Josh Wilson twice each. Wilson will make his third start tonight against the Rays.

2014 Preview: Detroit Tigers

Brad Ausmus

Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2014 season. Next up: The Detroit Tigers.

The Big Question: Are the Tigers still the clear favorites in the AL Central?

Detroit has won three consecutive AL Central titles, but the margin of victory was just one game last season and the Tigers made some huge changes over the offseason in an effort to improve their bullpen and defense while shedding long-term payroll. Gone are Prince Fielder, Doug Fister, Jhonny Peralta, Omar Infante, and Joaquin Benoit, plus manager Jim Leyland.

Fielder was traded to the Rangers in a move that brought in Kinsler to replace Infante at second base and cleared the way for Miguel Cabrera to slide across the diamond from third base to first base. Top prospect Nick Castellanos replaces Cabrera at third base as the Tigers count on him to be a key contributor as a 22-year-old rookie and ask him to move back to the infield after spending last season playing left field in the minors. That series of moves represents a massive shift in the type of team the Tigers are putting on the field under new manager Handsome Brad Ausmus.

Detroit’s haul from Washington for Fister was largely criticized for being not enough, but he was the Tigers’ fourth-best starter and they also felt Drew Smyly was ready for another chance in the rotation after thriving as a reliever last year. Benoit had an excellent three-season run in Detroit, but in bringing in the still dominant at 39 years old Nathan the Tigers are hoping that he can solidify the ninth inning while allowing the rest of the bullpen to fall into place.

One snag in the Tigers’ plans is slick-fielding Jose Iglesias, who was supposed to be the anchor of the much-improved defense and will instead miss the first half and possibly the entire season with stress fractures in both shins. In scrambling to replace him with 37-year-old Alex Gonzalez the Tigers overpaid for a seemingly washed-up player and likely put themselves in position to go shopping for a different replacement in a couple months.

Still, this is a much better team defensively, with a lot more speed, and if Castellanos lives up to the hype and they can piece together decent production in left field the offense is still plenty potent even without Fielder around. They just signed the world’s best hitter to a decade-long extension, after all. Getting the ball from the starters to Nathan may be an issue, but if everyone stays healthy the rotation remains one of the best in baseball with the reigning Cy Young winner in the No. 2 slot and the reigning ERA champ in the No. 3 slot. If the Indians or Royals had made big improvements this offeason the division could be totally up for grabs, but instead Detroit still looks like the clear-cut favorite for a fourth straight year.

What else is going on?

  • This is easier to say now that Fister is injured, but Smyly has a chance to be nearly as good for the Tigers’ rotation. As a reliever last year he threw 76 innings with a 2.37 ERA and 81/17 K/BB ratio, and as a 23-year-old rookie starter in 2012 he logged 99 innings with a 3.99 ERA and 94/33 K/BB ratio. Fister was really good and really underrated in his 2.5 seasons in Detroit, but Smyly throws strikes, has bat-missing raw stuff, and can be an impact starter.
  • Left-handed-hitting Andy Dirks and right-handed-hitting Rajai Davis were supposed to form a platoon in left field, but now Dirks is out for three months following back surgery. That pushes Davis into an expanded role, which will be good for the Tigers’ speed and defense, but he’s likely to struggle facing lots of right-handed pitching and left field is an area where general manager Dave Dombrowski may look to make a move midseason.
  • Home/road splits are far from the final word in projecting a player who’s changing teams, but it’s worth noting that Kinsler is a career .304 hitter with an .898 OPS in hitter-friendly Texas compared to .242 with a .710 OPS everywhere else. Toss in his overall decline recently as he crossed over into the wrong side of 30 and what to expect from Kinsler is a big question mark.

Prediction: Better defense, worse hitting, and another 90-win season. First place, AL Central.

UPDATE: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers agree to extension; will make $292M over next 10 years

Miguel Cabrera

UPDATE: CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the deal includes two vesting options valued at $30 million each. If Cabrera maxes out the deal, he could make as much as $352 million over 12 years.

6:56 p.m. ET: The new money in the deal works out to eight years and $248 million, per FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi. That’s an AAV (average annual value) of $31 million, which would surpass Clayton Kershaw for the highest in baseball history.

The total commitment over the next 10 years will be around $292 million. That figure was first floated by Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish.

6:37 p.m. ET: According to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, the extension will be for 10 years and just under $300 million. The deal includes the two years remaining on Cabrera’s current contract and eight additional years. It will take him through 2023 and his age-40 season.

Cabrera was set to make $44 million from 2014-2015, so depending on the structure, the deal could include around $250 million in new money. That would put him in the stratosphere of the two Alex Rodriguez contracts ($275 million and $252 million), which are the richest in baseball history. Albert Pujols and Robinson Cano ($240 million) are tied for third.

6:15 p.m. ET: FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi reports that the new deal will add at least six years on to Cabrera’s current contract, which is set to expire after 2015. He will receive an AAV (average annual value) of around $30 million in those six years, which means that the Tigers’ commitment to Cabrera over the entire eight-year span will be at least $224 million. We should know more soon.

6:06 p.m. ET: CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the Tigers and Cabrera have reached agreement on an extension. It’s believed to be for at least seven years.

FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi hears that the AAV (average annual value) is expected to be around $30 million, which would be a new record for a position player. If these reports are accurate, we’re likely looking at a guarantee of at least $210 million.

5:30 p.m. ET: Detroit may have missed its chance to extend Max Scherzer’s contract before he hits the open market, but Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that the Tigers are close to a long-term contract extension with two-time MVP Miguel Cabrera.

Cabrera has two more seasons remaining on an eight-year, $152 million deal, with $22 million salaries owed in 2014 and 2015, but so far at least there’s no word on the specifics of the extension.

This is Cabrera’s age-31 season and he followed up winning the traditional Triple Crown in 2012 by winning the sabermetric Triple Crown last season, leading the league in batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. Combined over the past four seasons he hit .337 with a 1.037 OPS while averaging 39 homers, 40 doubles, 88 walks, and 127 RBIs.

Albert Pujols’ ten-year, $240 million deal with the Angels and Joey Votto’s ten-year, $225 million deal with the Reds would seemingly be pretty good starting points for a Cabrera extension and it’s tough to imagine him getting less than $200 million considering Prince Fielder got $214 million from the Tigers as a free agent two offseasons ago.

Report: Tigers have opened up extension talks with Miguel Cabrera

Miguel Cabrera

The Tigers may have hit a roadblock in extension talks with starter Max Scherzer, so they have turned their attention to first baseman Miguel Cabrera. Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the two sides are open to an extension, but the discussion remains at a preliminary stage. Cabrera moved over to first base after the Tigers traded Prince Fielder to the Rangers during the off-season.

Cabrera, the American League’s back-to-back winner of the MVP award, turns 31 years old on April 18. He’ll earn $22 million in each of the 2014 and ’15 seasons — the last two years of an eight-year, $152.3 million deal signed back in March of 2008 — before becoming eligible for free agency, perhaps his last shot at a big multi-year deal. So, the Tigers will have to pay to keep him around.

Some question Cabrera’s ability to stay healthy and productive well into his 30’s, despite as consistent a track record as one can find. Since becoming a full-time player in 2001, Cabrera has played in at least 148 games and posted an OPS of at least .879. He is clearly on a Hall of Fame trajectory so long as he can continue staying healthy.