Miguel Cabrera: Trade Bait?

Miguel Cabrera just hit an opposite-field home run 441 feet.

This is not something normal ball players do. This is not something good ball players do.

This is unreal.

After the oppo-dong landed several rows back in right-center in Arlington, my first thoughts were to how unbelievably lucky Detroit fans are to watch this guy play day-in and day-out. This is a once in a generation-type hitter. My second thought was a bit more…eccentric.

What would be the haul for trading someone like this? 

One of the things that most seems to influence discussions in deals in modern baseball is the amount of contract left, and the duration of the deal.

Cabrera’s deal runs through 2015, and he’ll make 21 million this year, and then 22 million the next two years. Seven players made more annually than Cabrera did in 2012, which was a 21 million payday. Two others also made that much.

Probably the two factors that follow contractual status in the importance of any trade is age and ability, because one is usually impacted by the other. Cabrera is newly 30, and he is the best hitter in the major leagues. His career arc has been in an upward trajectory since he came in the league in terms of offense, and he has shown that he can play first base well, third base average, and probably left field a little better than Delmon Young.

So, what would he be worth in a trade?

Frankly, it’s a lot more difficult a premise than one would think. Most hitters start the down slope of their power primes at 32 or 33, but Cabrera’s hinting at lasting a bit longer. But when his contract runs out after ’15, what would he be worth? He could very well be looking at a Pujols-type deal : Albert got a ten-year, 200+ million dollar contract at 32, and Cabrera could be staring down a gold-plated barrel of the same karat. So, essentially, whatever team would acquire him is basically hoping he’ll take the dollars when his current, “affordable” contract expires.

But what would the Tigers get in return? Prospects? MLB veterans? Young stars? Would he net a Jurickson Profar? A Giancarlo Stanton? A riot in the streets of Michigan?

It’s a fun though to roll around in one’s mind, mostly because it won’t happen. Detroit Tiger fans have fallen in love with the pudgy-faced slugger, and the everyone associated with the Tigers, from Mr. Illitch to the singing vendor, would all have coronaries if he left via trade.

But what if?

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