A case could be made that the Detroit Tigers started the ‘rebuild’ last season when they dealt Justin Verlander to the Houston Astros. When you trade away one superstar, you might as well trade away any others. That way you can embrace the concept of rebuilding, commit to it, and do it right.
For the Tigers to do so, they still need to do one thing—trade Miguel Cabrera.
It may seem like blasphemy to longtime fans, but if you think about it, what good is he anymore? He’s 35 years old and currently out for the season with a biceps injury. Not that you should trade someone because they are out with an injury, of course. He was off to a good start this season after struggling in 2017.
Could he have kept up with the hot start? Definitely— he’s been doing it for most of his career. But having a hot hand doesn’t mean the Tigers should keep him. If anything, that’s more of a reason to sell.
If they are going to get the rebuild done sooner rather than later, then the more assets they have, the better. With his track record at the plate, any contender wanting a boost in their offensive production could use him. Despite his age, they’d probably pay a nice price for him.
But since he is out for the season, it is kind of a moot point now. However, if he was still healthy, the Tigers could probably really get the rebuild going with what they could get for him.
At the same time, there is a chance they wouldn’t get nearly as much as they’d hope for him. Not because of his age or the injury this season— but because of his contract. He is due to make $30 million a season through 2021 and $32 million in 2022 and 2023.
That’s a ton of money to commit to anyone. But it is an insane amount of money to promise someone who is well past his prime.
The question could almost be whether the Tigers can trade him.
The answer to that question? They probably can, but it will not be easy. First, the Tigers have to come to grips with the likelihood that they will not get fair value in return. While the talent and ability are still there, his age, and now injury history, lower his overall trade value.
Depending on what they would be willing to accept, there is bound to be someone out there willing to make a deal to add a bat of Cabrera’s caliber to the lineup. They’d probably have more luck with someone in the AL where Cabrera can just be a DH—and possibly remain valuable longer.
Is it time to trade him? No—he’s injured, so no one will care about him. But come next season, if his bat heats back up again, expect him to be on the trade block early.