“The expected value of a win varies from club to club, year by year. One executive, however, said the current number generally is between $6 to $8 million.” (Ken Rosenthal, Fox Sports) Of course, that is calculated in a vacuum; many factors play into the settling of contracts, such as a player’s age, position, market size, ownership goals, and the like.
Miguel Cabrera, 3rd baseman/1st baseman/DH for the Detroit Tigers, turns 31 in a few weeks. The Tigers have decided to tack on 8 years, $248 million to his contract, starting in 2016. They are into him for 10 years, $292 million.
Cabrera, according to one service, had 7.6 wins above replacement in 2013. So, technically, if one goes strictly by WAR he was worth $45-$60 million. Cabrera right now is the best pure hitter in the game. He has surpassed Albert Pujols. Pujols is three years older. But the Tigers slugger provides no value in the field or on the basepaths. The Tigers know this. And he was severely limited by a groin problem in the postseason last fall. He had to have surgery.
Why would they do it? There was no urgency. They have him locked up for the next two years. Perhaps they fear he’ll win his third MVP award in a row, and he’d be anxious to find out what’s out there after 2015.
What are the implications for a guy like Mike Trout? Trout had a 10.4 WAR last season, worth, in a vacuum again, $62-$83 million. He’s 22. There’s room for upside with Trout. There are reports that the Angels are considering offering him 6 years, $150 million to buy out his arbitration years and a few years of free agency. He could take that and be a free agent at 28. He is considered the best all-around player in the game right now.
Rosenthal thinks he should take it. I say no for two reasons: the Angels haven’t proved they know what they’re doing in the recent past, and may be frittering away some of the best player seasons in history with Trout–this on a team with Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton; and there’s a thought extant that somebody is going to come along who is great, believes in himself, and will only accept one year deals at maximum numbers. That could be a man such as Mike Trout. At age 26 he could try to go year to year, asking for at least $40 million per annum.
It’s breathtaking, but possible. The Angels and Tigers understand that they will make money on the front end of such deals and that Pujols and Cabrera could be cheerleaders by age 41. Oops, wrong sport. Exactly. Moms and Dads, don’t let your boys grow up to play football. Put a bat in his hands.