Cabrera’s Contract Fishier Than Trout’s
On Thursday, Cabrera (who had been under contract through 2015) signed an 8-year contract extension worth $248 million. The Tigers have vesting options for both the 2024 and 2025 seasons. The contract is worth $292 million without the vesting options and $352 million with them. He is now the highest paid player in the game. Cabrera has won back to back AL MVP Awards and in 2012 became the first player to win the Triple Crown since Carl Yastrzemski did so for the Boston Red Sox in 1967. Cabrera has also won three consecutive AL batting titles. He has driven in 100 or more runs for 10 seasons in a row.
Late on Friday, Mike Trout, who finished runner up to Cabrera in AL MVP balloting in both 2012 and 2013, signed a six-year contract extension worth $144.5 million. Although the Angels have been an underachieving team the past two seasons, Trout has been anything but. In his rookie season in 2012, Trout had a batting average, OBP and SLG of .326/.399/.564 and led the AL in runs scored (129) and stolen bases (49). In 2013, Trout went .323/.432/.557. He again led the AL in runs scored (109) as well as in walks (120). His power numbers have been excellent with 30 HR and 83 RBI and 27 HR and 97 RBI, respectively. If his RBI numbers appear modest, keep in mind that he’s been a lead off batter.
From where I sit, the Angels will get more bang for their buck than the Tigers. I could defend it if the Tigers had extended Cabrera’s contract five or six years. Cabrera turns 31 next month. While he will continue to be productive in the short term I simply can’t see him sustaining this level of production when he is 38. If the Tigers are expecting him to put up Triple Crown numbers in 2021 then they are setting themselves up for failure. Cabrera also has a history of battling his weight. He can get away with a lack of conditioning now, he won’t be able to at 38, much less 35. At that stage, Cabrera’s contract could prove to be an albatross that will impede the Tigers from investing in other quality big league players and maintaining a viable minor league system.
Conversely, Trout is only 22 and this contract takes him through the age of 29, which would be the prime of his career. Yes, there’s always a chance that Trout could get hurt, but it’s worth the risk. It will probably be the best $145 million the Angels ever spend. The same can’t be said for the $240 million the Angels have committed to Albert Pujols. The Tigers have essentially given Cabrera an Albert Pujols deal and then some. Or put another way, Trout’s contract extension is far less fishy.