I’m sick of pretending to be a general manager. I’m beyond over trying to figure out what’s posturing and what isn’t, conversing on what player should’ve been tried at whatever position and forming any opinion whatsoever on 37-year-olds coming off Tommy John surgery. I just want to be a fan, and I want to watch some real baseball.
But as we sit now, just three nights after this one between us and Opening Day, allow me one last opinion here: I am so damn glad we have Robinson Cano and not one of these other guys.
The big news in the baseball world today is that Miguel Cabrera, the second best player in the game, is in line for what’s nothing short of a massive contract extension. He’ll receive an eight-year, $248 million extension tacked onto his current current deal—bringing the grand total to 10 years and $292 million.
There’s no denying that Cabrera is one of the very best players in the game, and one of the greatest hitters the sport of baseball has ever seen. While Ted Williams and Babe Ruth and Willie Mays have pages upon pages upon pages of eloquent prose devoted to their lore, all we really need to appropriately frame Cabrera’s greatness is this gif (hey, what up 2014).
But while Cabrera has been nothing short of a monster at the plate, I found it funny that Jon Heyman’s early report on the deal initially said "There will still need to be a physical before anything is finalized, but Cabrera never is hurt." If you’ll remember, it was Cabrera’s late-season hip injury that altered the face of the American League playoffs. He wasn’t the same coming down the stretch and into the postseason, and neither were the Detroit Tigers.
Hips, of course, are pretty important. To really dumb it all the way down, the hips are the shoulders of your legs. And as important as a healthy shoulder is to throwing a baseball, the hips are just as much to hitting one.
Of course, we have the part where Miguel Cabrera is a first baseman too, and they don’t have the best track record of aging well.
So, to put it succinctly,
But, I’ll say this, if I were Tigers owner Mike Ilitch, I’d do the same thing. If I were a wealthy sports owner who might not live to see the next winter Olympics, I’d do some dumb stuff—like pay Miguel Cabrera $292 million to play baseball while taking $261 million from the state of Michigan to build a hockey arena while the city of Detroit settles up its $286 million debt buyout. Try not to think about that one too much.
Yes, I'd be irrational too. And I don't blame a single Tigers fan for being excited about this deal, knowing that Cabrera will likely finish out his career in Detroit. Because sports.
And it's "because sports" that I can say buying anything for $242 million is a bargain. Well, at the very least—a good deal. It's reasonable.
I know many people have criticized Cano's contract, but I think most of the criticism can be summed up as "It was the right deal, but not for the Mariners." There are multiple reasons for that, with the big one being that the Mariners aren't in position to capitalize on it right away. Not unless they add more—and they didn't add more. I don't have any response for that because, for as substantial the longterm financial commitment was in this deal and Felix Hernandez's, there's no excuse for the payroll being down at 18th out of 30 teams.
But for those who say "Well if that's all they're going to spend, they should've spread it around," I understand, but I don't necessarily agree. Sometimes in sports, a dollar's worth more than four quarters. It's difficult to bring multiple "right" pieces together, to get all those guys to sign—and then for them to perform to expectations.
Maybe I'm wrong, and maybe it's irrational fandom, but if you told me back in October exactly how this off-season would play out, I'd take it eleven times out of ten.
But this is going sideways. This organization was going to push hard for an elite offensive player until it went over-the-top enough to sign one. We saw them pursue Prince Fielder, and we read about the contract offers for Josh Hamilton. And, though not directly related to this point, we saw Albert Pujols sign in our division for 10 years and $252 million.
Hell, just this past off-season, the Texas Rangers paid Ian Kinsler and seven years, $138 million for a clearly-declining Prince Fielder.
Give me Robinson Cano over all of them. To me, it's less about the direct math than Cano's price in comparison to the going rate for elite talent, but if you're interested in the former here it is: according to Dave Cameron and Fangraphs' research stating the 2014 off-season's cost of a win was about $6 million, Cano would have to be worth 40 wins over the course of his deal.
That's not going to happen. But it doesn't have to, and Cano could come close.
Craig Biggio managed to put up 33.6 wins after his age-31 season. And Joe Morgan, ridiculously, put up 46.7. I mean, hey, Jeff Kent put up 38.8.
Of course, that's just looking at things in 2014 dollars. The cost of a win in 2019—let alone 2024—is going to be so much more than it is now, and you can already see where things are headed with this Cabrera deal. But I didn't intend for this to be some deep dive into justifying what the Mariners did this off-season, and it isn't.
The Mariners wanted an elite offensive player to pair with Felix Hernandez, and they got the right guy in Robbie Cano.