The Detroit Tigers extended the contract with slugger Miguel Cabrera that may end up destroying the team. Extending Cabrera’s contract through at least the the 2021 season puts his total contract at 10 years and $292 million.
The contract makes Cabrera the highest paid player in MLB history, exceeding the $275 million contract of New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez. What does all this money really mean to Cabrera, Detroit, and the fans?
When Rodriguez left Seattle, he signed a 10 year, $250 million contract with the Texas Rangers. While Rodriquez improved his hitting and fielding over three years in Texas, he admitted to ESPN in 2009 that he felt that he was under enormous pressure to preform and he did take a banned subject. Texas sent Rodriguez to New York, but still owed the Yankees close to $24 million dollars for his contract, and along with money owed to other players forced the Rangers ownership to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Could Detroit’s contract with Miguel Cabrera do the same and destroy the Tigers financially? Detroit does not have a strong economy right now, and in the summer of 2013 the city filed for bankruptcy. Cabrera’s huge contract could cause negative feelings towards him and the Tigers when so much of the city is still struggling.
Rodriguez admitted to using banned substances with the Rangers after feeling pressure to perform. In 2012, Albert Pujols, who many regarded as one of the best players in baseball at the time, left the St. Louis Cardinals for a 10 year, $240 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels. At the time it was the third largest contract ever signed in the MLB. This was behind the Rodriguez contracts with both Texas and the Yankees.
Pujols came into his first season with the Angels strong. However, most of his numbers for the 2012 season were not quite as strong as they were with the Cardinals in 2011. In his second season, he sat much of the year with a knee injury that required off season surgery to repair. Pujols says he is healthy and ready to go, but he has a lot to prove after a less than stellar first two seasons of his 10 year contract.
Cabrera will feel a lot of pressure as baseballs highest paid player. If he does not perform like he has been, Detroit will turn on him. When teams spend this kind of money, they want production. The fans will expect the Tigers to make the playoffs, and be led to the World Series by Cabrera. If this does not happen, how will Tigers fans feel about their $292 million man.
If Cabrera leads his team by example and takes care of the town that he represents on the diamond, that will go a long way. The Tigers need to do their part in the community to help it bounce back and Cabrera should be taking the lead on this front. He needs to perform on the field and be a on field team leader, producing in a way that the whole team can feed off of him.
To avoid being destroyed by Miguel Cabrera’s contract, the Tigers need to work very hard, both on and off the field. It would be a good move for Cabrera to put his new found wealth back into the city and become the new hero of Detroit.
Commentary by Carl Auer