Olney: MLB executives are “appalled” over the Miguel Cabrera extension

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The Tigers have reportedly reached agreement on an extension with Miguel Cabrera which will pay him $292 million over the next 10 years and keep him under contract through at least his age-40 season. If the deal is announced as a 10-year extension, it will be the biggest financial commitment in sports history. While both parties are obviously happy with the new mega-deal, ESPN’s Buster Olney hears that executives around MLB are in shock:

Cabrera is entering his age-31 season now, so it’s not exactly bold to say that this deal probably won’t look very good in the end. Yes, he’s the best hitter in the world right now, but players get old and decline and the odds are against him being the exception. There’s also the matter of timing, as he was already under contract for two more seasons. Was there really a sense of urgency to get this done at this very moment? There’s a ton of money in the game right now and there’s an argument to be made that the players aren’t getting enough of it, but this type of deal just feels unnecessary given his age and what he’s likely to be toward the end of it.

If there’s anybody who is probably peeved by the news of this extension, it’s the Angels. Sure, there have been extension discussions in recent months, but can you imagine what Mike Trout will (or should) demand after this? Oh boy.

Nationals’ sell-off a vindication for Dusty Baker

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The Nationals threw in the towel on Tuesday, trading second baseman Daniel Murphy to the Cubs and 1B/OF Matt Adams to the Cardinals. The club also placed outfielder and soon-to-be free agent Bryce Harper on revocable waivers but took him back. The Nats’ sell-off is a vindication for former manager Dusty Baker, let go after the Nationals failed to advance past the NLDS for a second straight year.

Baker had roughly the same team current manager Dave Martinez did. It was arguably worse, considering he never wrote Juan Soto‘s name on the lineup card. The 2018 squad, sans Baker, has been marked by mutiny and underachievement. While failing to reach the NLCS in Baker’s two years was disappointing, he took them to Game 5 in the NLDS both years as well as 95 and 97 regular season wins. Right now, Martinez’s squad has a winning percentage more than 100 points lower than Baker’s last year. They’re on pace to go 80-82, which would be their first sub-.500 season since 2011.

Baker has always had an undeserved bad rap. He was, correctly, blamed for the Cubs’ demise, due somewhat to Kerry Wood and Mark Prior falling apart, ostensibly from overuse. However, after his stint in Chicago, Baker took the lowly Reds from the bottom of the NL Central to the top in two years between 2008-10. Then he took the Nationals, which had won a meager 83 games in 2015 and had made the playoffs just twice since moving from Montreal, to two consecutive NLDS Game 5’s.

Not much changed from 2017 to ’18. Martinez inherited Ryan Zimmerman, Trea Turner, Anthony Rendon, Michael Taylor, Bryce Harper, Adam Eaton, Daniel Murphy, Matt Wieters, Max Scherzer, Tanner Roark, Gio Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg, Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson, Brandon Kintzler, Shawn Kelley, and Koda Glover, among others. But for one reason or another — injuries, admittedly, make up one reason — almost all of these players are having worse years under Martinez than under Baker. Describing the 2018 team to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, Baker said, “They’re together, but they’re separate.”

Is it strictly Baker that would make the difference? No, of course not. But the Nationals organization seems unwilling or unable to address issues that may extend into the front office. The Nats seem happy to go through a new manager every couple of years and hope that fixes all that ails them. Since Frank Robinson’s five years at the helm from 2002-06, Manny Acta managed two and a half years, Jim Riggleman one and a half, Davey Johnson two, Matt Williams two, Baker two. Maybe the problem was never the manager. Perhaps the problem is the Lerner family and Mike Rizzo.