The big news that has shaken the Major League Baseball landscape over the past week was the mega deal signed by Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera.
The 30-year-old (hard to believe) Cabrera’s eight-year extension brings the total money owed to him by the Tigers to $292 million over 10 years, two vesting options worth $30 million each.
By contrast, David Wright’s extension was eight years and $138 million.
But surely the two-time reigning American League MVP Cabrera is clearly a superior player to Wright, right?
Sure, we’ve been down this road before, but in light of the most recent developments, it’s worth traveling down this road one more time.
Let’s compare their stats from 2013, arguably the best offensive season either player has had.
There it is, clear as day: Cabrera is clearly the better offensive player – and there isn’t a person who can really argue that – but when it comes to the overall production of the players, Wright and Cabrera are very much equal.
The advantage that Cabrera has from being such a dominant force with the bat is completely erased by his baserunning “skills” and his Dick Allen defense.
To be sure, defensive and especially baserunning metrics are years behind offensive metrics, so it is completely possible that if the metrics were further along, one player might come out as being far and away the better player, or not.
Also you have to consider the other factors surrounding the contracts signed by the two players: the Tigers are certainly on less shaky financial ground and are better suited to overpay to keep a great player like Cabrera, whereas the Mets needed Wright to take a bargain-basement deal, which he graciously did.
But even factoring that in – and taking into account the way that free agency has changed over the past year – the large disparity in the contracts for more-or-less the same player is staggering. The $154 million gap is enough that the Mets could trade for Mike Trout with his newly signed extension and still have about $10 million left over (yes, I realize the absurdity of that statement, but you get the idea).
The idea here also is not to say that the Tigers overpaid for Cabrera, in hindsight this extension probably won’t be looked at as a bad deal. The point is that with the way that the free agent market has shifted, Wright’s contract was a great bargain for the Mets.
It’s not a stretch to say that if Wright were a free agent today, he could easily and justifiably get $200 million. As the second season of Wright’s deal is set to begin later today (make sure you come back and participate in the game chatter!), we should all take the time to further appreciate what he’s done for the team, and why he truly embodies the meaning of captain.
Let’s go Mets!
Joe Vasile is the voice of the Fayetteville (NC) SwampDogs and does play-by-play for NJ.org Varsity.