Miguel Cabrera is contracted to play for the Tigers for the rest of his career.
For White Sox fans, that's hard to spin into any kind of positive. The Tigers have been a playoff contender the past few years and Cabrera has a been a huge reason why. They will likely be a playoff contender this season because of Cabrera, and still likely the year after that. Prince Fielder signed a perilously long, expensive and seemingly reckless contract with the Tigers, and all the condescending chuckles in the world couldn't bring the three-run bomb he hit off Leyson Septimo back in 2012.
Of course, none of this has anything to do with the actual contract Miguel Cabrera just signed. It's an eight-year deal worth $248 million that does not kick in until after the 2015 season, when he was originally scheduled to become a free agent. There's also this:
Miguel Cabrera was likely always going to have one last mondo-payday, and his elite skills were likely always going to allow him to receive something that outstripped contracts given to Prince Fielder, Joey Votto and even Albert Pujols. But again, he had two years to get through, still produce and still ward off the creeping specter of injury before he could demand such things.
Ryan Howard was still pretty awesome when he signed his extension with the Phillies, now the emptied husk of his once robust production is the designated cudgel of every saber-friendly analyst. Cabrera is a much better actor, but the script still stinks.
An obscenely financially secure Cabrera is likely a happier Cabrera, and his mood is certainly more important for the Tigers' clubhouse and the franchise than others, but that doesn't make this shrewd.
Context only add to the confusion. Why work ahead on rewarding Cabrera while simultaneously digging in heels against pending free agent Max Scherzer? If committing globs of money to Cabrera was feasible and advisable, why was it necessary to purge Doug Fister and Prince Fielder's contracts?
The time is still now for the Tigers, but if you can wait for it, they're starting to paint a really odd version of their future. It's full of long-term commitments for players already over 30 combined with a thin system. Actually it's not odd at all. You're probably a White Sox fan. It should look familiar.
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A cycle of baseball blogger blood vengeance:
*Cabrera signs 10-year, $292 million extension with crazy vesting options*
White Sox fan: This Miggy contract is dumb
Tigers fan: You're oversimplifying. You lack understanding of his role with the franchise. Having Cabrera a permanent fixture can only make the organization stronger.
*Cabrera whacks crucial home run*
Tigers fan: Woooooo, worth the money, losers!!
White Sox fan: He was already under contract for this year
*Cabrera grounds weakly to third, pulls up lame halfway up baseline, throws helmet*
White Sox fan: I saved our conversations from 2014 when you mocked my criticisms
Tigers fan: Are you really the type of person who spends their days logging grievances and disagreements in the hopes of some day being validated for refusing to take joys in the immediate? Are you the type to think that years of being a wet blanket are now made valuable by getting to compound the misery of Tigers fans with tales of your forethought?
White Sox fan: ...I didn't use to be