Miguel Cabrera is definitely the Tigers’ starting third baseman

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Miguel Cabrera said as much as soon as the Prince Fielder signing happened, but manager Jim Leyland made things official during Fielder’s introductory press conference today: Cabrera will be the Tigers’ starting third baseman.

And not only that, Leyland added that he doesn’t even plan to remove Cabrera for defensive purposes late in games.

Cabrera, who’s mediocre at best as a first baseman, hasn’t played third base regularly since his first season with the Tigers in 2008. He lasted two weeks there before Leyland shifted him across the diamond and started Carlos Guillen and Brandon Inge at third base.

Victor Martinez returning from his torn ACL next season would put the Tigers in a tough spot and necessitate one of Fielder, Cabrera, or Martinez playing somewhere other than designated hitter, but with Martinez expected to miss all of this season it seems strange that they wouldn’t use the DH on Fielder or Cabrera.

And apparently they might not even use it on Delmon Young, at least not all the time. Imagine a world in which Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera, and Delmon Young are on the same American League team and someone else is the designated hitter.

Of course, while the defense isn’t going to be pretty the Tigers’ offense figures to be plenty scary, with Leyland saying this is his projected batting order:

1. Austin Jackson
2. Brennan Boesch
3. Miguel Cabrera
4. Prince Fielder
5. Delmon Young
6. Alex Avila
7. Jhonny Peralta
8. Andy Dirks/Don Kelly
9. Ryan Raburn

It’s worth noting that Jackson (.331 career on-base percentage) and Boesch (.330 OBP) aren’t exactly ideal table-setters for two of the best sluggers in baseball, although Fielder would at least benefit from having Cabrera (.395 OBP) directly in front of him.

And in that above scenario the Tigers also have Brandon Inge and Ramon Santiago on the bench, which will apparently be the only place to find defense in Detroit this season.

RHP Fairbanks, Rays agree to 3-year, $12 million contract

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Dave Nelson/USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Reliever Pete Fairbanks and the Tampa Bay Rays avoided arbitration when they agreed Friday to a three-year, $12 million contract that could be worth up to $24.6 million over four seasons.

The deal includes salaries of $3,666,666 this year and $3,666,667 in each of the next two seasons. The Rays have a $7 million option for 2026 with a $1 million buyout.

His 2024 and 2025 salaries could increase by $300,000 each based on games finished in the previous season: $150,000 each for 35 and 40.

Tampa Bay’s option price could increase by up to $6 million, including $4 million for appearances: $1 million each for 60 and 70 in 2025; $500,000 for 125 from 2023-25 and $1 million each for 135, 150 and 165 from 2023-25. The option price could increase by $2 million for games finished in 2025: $500,000 each for 25, 30, 35 and 40.

Fairbanks also has a $500,000 award bonus for winning the Hoffman/Rivera reliever of the year award and $200,000 for finishing second or third.

The 29-year-old right-hander is 11-10 with a 2.98 ERA and 15 saves in 111 appearances, with all but two of the outings coming out of the bullpen since being acquired by the Rays from the Texas Rangers in July 2019.

Fairbanks was 0-0 with a 1.13 ERA in 24 appearances last year after beginning the season on the 60-day injured list with a right lat strain.

Fairbanks made his 2022 debut on July 17 and tied for the team lead with eight saves despite being sidelined more than three months. In addition, he is 0-0 with a 3.60 ERA in 12 career postseason appearances, all with Tampa Bay.

He had asked for a raise from $714,400 to $1.9 million when proposed arbitration salaries were exchanged Jan. 13, and the Rays had offered for $1.5 million.

Fairbanks’ agreement was announced two days after left-hander Jeffrey Springs agreed to a $31 million, four-year contract with Tampa Bay that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

Tampa Bay remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, third baseman Yandy Diaz and outfielder Harold Ramirez.