Miguel Cabrera has won two straight American League MVP awards, and on Thursday the Tigers made sure any more MVP seasons from Cabrera will come in a Tigers uniform as well.
The Tigers and Cabrera have agreed to an eight-year, $248 million contract extension set to begin after the 2015 season, according to FOX Sports 1's Jon Morosi. With his salary over the next two seasons, Cabrera will earn $292 million over the next 10 years. The deal also includes two vesting options that could ultimately push the value to $352 million over the next 12 seasons, per Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The deal is pending a physical and should be announced in the coming days.
That $292 million earned over a 10-year span easily eclipses Alex Rodriguez' previous record of $275 million, which he and the Yankees agreed upon in 2007. Cabrera will also earn substantially more than Albert Pujols got from the Angels in 2011. Pujols signed that deal a month before his 32nd birthday; Cabrera's deal is being reported less than a month before he turns 31 years old.
It's certainly a hard-earned and well-deserved extension for the first baseman. Cabrera is unquestionably the best hitter in today's game and is coming off back-to-back MVP seasons. He's also been the picture of consistency at the plate throughout the majority of his career -- since 2005, Cabrera has posted a WAR below 5 only once, per Fangraphs.
While he's certainly been worth the kind of money he'll earn going forward, Pujols and Rodriguez also serve as cautionary tales for giving long-term contracts to aging players. Before Cabrera, Pujols was widely considered to be the game's premier hitter, but age and injury caused the 34-year-old to underperform in the first two years of his contract with little hope that he'll return to MVP form going forward. And while Rodriguez has his own issues, he offers a different kind of caution -- there is no such thing as a sure thing.
It's hard to debate that the Tigers are paying Cabrera at his peak value, but the fact that he'll retire in a Tigers uniform will afford some peace of mind to the organization and its fans. It will also keep one of the game's best players happy, and that could mean more accolades to come for the Tigers' slugger this year. Even if they have to pay for it -- literally and figuratively -- down the road.
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Fister Goes Down With Lat Strain
It's been a spring to forget for Cabrera's former teammate Doug Fister.
Fister, who was dealt from the Tigers to the Nationals over the offseason, dealt with right elbow inflammation early in spring that sidelined him for close to three weeks. He returned with a good outing on Saturday, tossing 3 2/3 scoreless innings. Things were looking up.
That good feeling left Thursday, when Fister was pulled from a minor league start after one inning due to a right lat strain. The injury officially puts his first start on April 6 in doubt, but unofficially Fister may miss a few weeks as a result of the injury.
“Any time you have to shut anybody down, you’re always concerned,” Nationals pitching coach Steve McCatty told the Washington Post. “If it’s something or because his elbow was bothering him, I would have shut it down over that, too. You got to be cautious about something like this.”
The setback makes it highly likely that both Tanner Roark and Taylor Jordan will break camp with the club. The sophomore pitchers had been battling for the final spot in the Nationals' rotation, and both pitched well this spring. As for Fister, he'll be evaluated by the team's physician, Wiemi Douoguih, Friday in Washington, after which more should be known about the severity of the injury and the length of time the right-hander may be sidelined.
Andrus (Elbow) Set To Return Friday
Elvis Andrus got better news on Thursday in his return from an elbow injury.
Andrus went through a full workout Thursday and was cleared to play in Friday's Cactus League game, his first in over a week. Andrus had been sidelined after feeling soreness in his right elbow on March 18, but the shortstop threw on Tuesday and Thursday's session was the final test for the 25-year-old.
It's indicative of the team's faith in Andrus' recovery that he will be inserted into an exhibition game this close to the start of the season. Once Andrus appears in a Cactus League game, any potential stint on the disabled list will be retroactive to his last official spring game. If the organization was concerned that Andrus may not be ready to start on Opening Day, it likely would find another way to get Andrus into game action without compromising the ability to backdate his DL stay.
Andrus' presence on Opening Day became even more important after it was learned last Sunday that the team will be without starting second baseman Jurickson Profar for 10-to-12 weeks due to a torn right shoulder muscle. The Rangers are already scrambling to find a suitable replacement at the keystone, so doing without their shortstop for any period of time would have been an added burden. Alas, it appears owners can count on Andrus to be in the lineup when the season opens on Monday.
Bradley To Start Out At Triple-A
In one of their final spring cuts, the Diamondbacks reassigned prospect Archie Bradley to minor league camp Thursday.
The move comes as no surprise -- Bradley is still just 21 years old and posted a 4.32 ERA over 8 1/3 innings in major league camp this spring -- but it's likely not the last we'll see of the right-hander this season. The Diamondbacks have already lost their No. 1 starter, Patrick Corbin, for the season and further injury to the rotation may see Bradley in Arizona before long.
When he does arrive, Bradley will undoubtedly show glimpses of why he was a consensus top-25 prospect across all the major media outlets this spring. In 2013, Bradley went 14-5 with a 1.84 ERA while striking out 162 batters in 152 innings between High-A and Double-A.
Bradley will start the year in Triple-A Reno, but fantasy owners shouldn't forget about him. He's worth a flyer in NL-only leagues now as a player to stash, and he could be mixed league relevant before this baseball season is over. It just won't be on April 1.