There was an article written this week by Lynn Henning of the Detroit News discussing how the Detroit Tigers will be able to handle all of the "stars" coming up on free agency within the next three years.
While Henning discussed Austin Jackson, Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Doug Fister being free agents, the one name that caught my attention was Miguel Cabrera. I've known that Cabrera is scheduled to be a free agent after 2015, but what Henning said really caught my eye:
Say, at the end of this season or halfway through 2014, as Cabrera deals with the reality of turning 31 (April 18, 2014), a voracious shopper offers the Tigers a package you would expect an aggressive team to proffer for a hitter so celestial.
That package would involve multiple players and significant talent. Do the Tigers, realizing hitters generally begin to fade at age 29 (Cabrera's "fade" earned him a Triple Crown in 2012), decide they have probably maxed-out on the combination of Cabrera's payoff to the Tigers and his remaining trade value?
Any smart front office would need to make a plus-minus tally and act accordingly. The alternative would be to either allow Cabrera to become a free agent at the end of 2015, or extend him for more seasons at the point he would be approaching 33.
I discussed earlier in the offseason that maybe the Tigers would trade him, but have since backed off that opinion due to the fact that Cabrera appears to be that special athlete who can age gracefully in terms of his baseball ability.
While Cabrera probably won't hit for as much power, he can surely still hit for average and can produce around 20 HR if he remains healthy.
Cabrera also hasn't been linked to any performance-enhancing scandals, so he won't need to contend with the media and fans questioning whether his stats or records are tainted.
At Cabrera's current rate he appears a lock for the Hall of Fame, and it would be nice if he could enter it as a Tiger. When speaking about Cabrera's long-term future with the Tigers earlier this offseason, Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski told Tony Paul from the Detroit News, "I think it's a realistic situation," Dombrowski said last week. "We love what he does on the field, and what he does for the club off the field."
Hopefully Dombrowski and the Tigers mean what they said and attempt to keep Cabrera in a Tigers uniform—but there are no guarantees.
If the Tigers actually did entertain the notion of trading Cabrera, there are only a few teams that could afford him in terms of talent and/or money. Let's take a look at five potential suitors.