Detroit Tigers: 5 Teams That Could Pursue Miguel Cabrera in 2014
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.
Los Angeles Dodgers
This is soon going to become the norm. When a high-profile player is available, everyone will assume that the Dodgers will be interested in them.
While I have a hard time seeing where Miguel Cabrera will fit in with the team, who cares when they just signed a 25-year, $7 billion to $8 billion deal with Time Warner Cable and can sign any player they want?
The biggest obstacle I see in the Dodgers going after Cabrera is that I can't see any young impact players that could be made available to entice the Detroit Tigers to part with him.
Watch, the Dodgers will buy prospects from other teams for Cabrera (I'm just kidding...I think).
Boston Red Sox
With the Boston Red Sox trading away star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez last season, they would love a player like Miguel Cabrera to play in Fenway Park.
The Red Sox are usually linked to every superstar, and Cabrera will be no exception. In 2009, there was a rumor saying that Cabrera could be available and that the Red Sox were a candidate to acquire him.
The Red Sox have some young prospects, but they would also need to entice the Detroit Tigers with a few young major league players like Will Middlebrooks.
Luckily 2009 was just a rumor, but if Cabrera does hit the trade market then the Red Sox will be one of the first calls the Tigers receive.
New York Yankees
Similar to the Boston Red Sox, the New York Yankees are linked to every star player. Recently, though, the Yankees have shown some restraint due to the luxury tax penalties that will be enforced in 2014.
There is one way that the Yankees could go after Miguel Cabrera, and it revolves around who else but Alex Rodriguez.
According to ESPNNewYork.com, the Yankees may attempt to void A-Rod's contract due to a report that came out linking him to PEDs. While A-Rod currently hasn't been found taking PEDs, it is a situation worth monitoring due to the contract report.
If A-Rod's contract is voided, then I would expect the Yankees to go after Cabrera since he could help Yankees fans forget about the A-Rod controversy. I have serious doubts that the Yankees would succeed, but it's still something to keep an eye on.
While the Yankees don't have any young major league starters that have value, perhaps the Tigers would be willing to take on some of the Yankees' younger prospects due to the success they've had with Austin Jackson.
The Washington Nationals are a young team that will be a World Series contender for several years. The Nationals are opening their wallet to attract key free agents, like Rafael Soriano, and have a young core led by pitcher Stephen Strasburg and outfield sensation Bryce Harper.
On the field, the Nationals could make room for Miguel Cabrera at first base since Adam LaRoche only signed a two-year deal this month to return to the team. The Nationals could easily trade LaRoche to a team like the Boston Red Sox who were rumored to be interested in him this offseason.
The Nationals could also center a trade package around promising young starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann, who is only 26 years old.
The Nationals are hoping to re-negotiate their TV deal, but they are currently in a dispute with the Baltimore Orioles regarding it. How this dispute gets resolved will go a long way in determining whether the Nationals could actually end up affording Cabrera on top of the eventual extensions they're looking at for Strasburg and Harper.
New York Mets
The New York Mets are the dark-horse team who could surprise a lot of people by having the ability to pull off a trade for Miguel Cabrera.
The Mets are also probably the best match as a trade partner for the Detroit Tigers. The Mets have a young stud starting pitcher prospect in Zack Wheeler and have other key pieces that would entice the Tigers to trade Cabrera.The Mets could also include catcher Travis d'Arnaud and pitcher Matt Harvey.
The Mets play in a large market and while they've had their money troubles recently, Jayson Stark from ESPN quoted Mets owner Jeff Wilpon saying that the payroll will be increasing:
Jeff Wilpon says firmly: "The payroll is going to go up next year" and talks about "flexibility" after contracts come off books in 2014
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) December 5, 2012
Cabrera would be a boon to the Mets organization for marketing purposes and would also help to re-energize their fan base.
Cabrera could slide nicely into first base, as the Mets don't have a star first baseman. And third baseman David Wright won't need to slide across the diamond anytime soon.
While it may not be the most prudent decision to sign a player in his 30s to a massive contract extension, I still can't see the Detroit Tigers trading Miguel Cabrera unless they get a HUGE package for him. The Tigers might be banking on the fact that the current Triple Crown winner will bring the fans into Comerica Park to watch him break several potential records over the course of his new contract.
Regardless of what happens, this will be a story to watch next offseason.
What do you think the Tigers should do with Miguel Cabrera next year?