The Detroit Tigers just extended Miguel Cabrera, arguably the second-best player in the MLB right now, for an obscene $248 million over eight years. Combine this extension with the two years and $44 million left on his current deal, plus two vesting options for an additional 11th and 12th year at $30 million apiece, and you get a 12-year, $352 million contract.
So, the Tigers have never heard of Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols then? Because they appear to be following the exact same path that the Yankees and Angels already trod with those two over-30 sluggers (Cabrera is soon to be 31). To recap:
-Alex Rodriguez signed a 10-year, $275 million contract when he was 32 years old. He is currently suspended from the league for using performance-enhancing drugs.
-Albert Pujols signed a 10-year, $254 million contract when he was 31 years old. His batting average has dropped precipitously since 2008, and his two seasons with the Angels have been marred by injuries and decreasing performance.
Particularly after the Pujols deal, many around the league began to realize: signing a guy who is over 30 years old to a 10-year deal is a terrible idea. Backloading a contract so you get all of his ostensibly “good” years out of the way at a decent price and then shouldering an unfortunate burden in his twilight years sounds like a decent idea now (or, does it?), but wait until your guy is in his late 30s, can’t hit, and instead hits on women in the stands.
Miguel Cabrera is not A-Rod or Pujols, and could certainly buck the trend. But people who sign contracts that set them up for the rest of their lives tend to not have the same hunger as the guy who was working for that deal. It’s all smooth sailing for Cabrera from here. For the Tigers? Doubtful.
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