Miguel Cabrera’s Pursuit Of Milestones In 2021 Complements Detroit Tigers’ Rebuild

DETROIT, MI – AUGUST 2: Miguel Cabrera # 24 of the Detroit Tigers Singles against the Cincinnati … [+] Reds on Aug. 2, 2020. (Photo by Duane Burleson / Getty Images)

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The Detroit Tigers are at the early stages of an exciting rebuilding process under new manager AJ Hinch. Having finished last in the American League Central for the past six seasons, the Tigers have capitalized on their advantageous design positions. In the last three Major League Baseball Rule 4 Drafts, the Tigers have chosen first overall (2018, 2020) and fifth (2019) twice in the first round. They also have the third choice in this year’s draft, where a duo of right-handed pitching sensations from Vanderbilt University, Jack Leiter and Kumar Rocker, could be possible options for the Tigers.

According to the MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospect Rankings 2021, the Tigers have five prospects in the top 25, led by Spencer Torkelson (3rd), the third baseman / first baseman. This prestigious list includes outfielder Riley Greene (21st), pitcher Casey Mize (11th), Tarik Skubal (24th) and Matt Manning (25th). The Tigers are in a transition phase with a heavy emphasis on youth, but thanks to Miguel Cabrera, nostalgia will be a recurring theme throughout the season.

Cabrera is a two-time American League Most Valuable Player (2012, 2013) and winner of the Triple Crown Award (2012). He is in the twilight years of his extraordinary career, nearing 3,000 hits and 500 home runs. At the start of his 38-year season, Cabrera could become the first ball player to have both monumental hits in the same season, according to the MLB Network. He is 134 hits away from 3,000 and takes 13 home runs to reach 500.

According to Stathead Baseball, Cabrera would only be the seventh ball player in baseball history to have achieved both milestones. Enthusiasm for what could be a magical and historic season for Cabrera is growing. He also has additional opportunities to further solidify his case as one of the greatest right-handers in baseball history. By the end of the season, it’s entirely possible that Cabrera has also exceeded 1,500 runs, 1,750 batted runs, 5,000 bases, 600 doubles and 2,500 games, according to Baseball-Reference.com.

Detroit Tigers right-handed Miguel Cabrera swings on a pitch.

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – SEPTEMBER 5: Miguel Cabrera # 24 of the Detroit Tigers takes a bat … [+] against the Minnesota Twins on September 5, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien / Getty Images)

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Cabrera is no longer the ball player who scared pitchers at the height of his career (28-32 years old) for being exceptionally capable of hitting for average and strength. He’s slowed down significantly since the 2016 season was the last time he played in more than 140 ball games. Cabrera has also looked at groin and hamstring injuries while breaking his left biceps tendon in the 2018 season. He has become a full-time batsman and last played on the field as first baseman on June 18, 2019.

With the Tigers deeply invested in developing young ballplayers for the future, Cabrera is in legacy mode with a contract that has become a financial albatross. It is as if the Tiger and Cabrera are moving at two different speeds, but living together peacefully. His eight-year contract for $ 248 million runs through the 2023 season. The Tigers hold a $ 30 million club option (buyout of $ 8 million) for the 2024 season and a club option of $ 30 million US dollars for the 2025 season under Cots baseball contracts.

Cabrera is set to earn a base salary of $ 30 million for the 2021 season on a competitive tax salary of $ 29.2 million. According to Spotrac, his base salary is 41.43% of the Tigers’ 2021 wage bill. If Cabrera lands in the top 10 votes for the American League’s Most Valuable Player Award in 2023 and 2024, the options will be guaranteed in the contract. The last time Cabrera did this feat was in 2016, when he finished ninth in the vote with former Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor.

The Detroit Tigers are moving in the right direction, but it will likely take time and patience. You are amassing a treasure trove of highly regarded prospects but will not be ready to fight seriously for the American League Central title for at least some seasons. It is likely that the Tigers will develop into a competitive ball club once Miguel Cabrera’s contract ends after the 2023 season. As he tracks several historical milestones this season, let’s enjoy every moment and collect our thoughts on where Cabrera ranks among the greatest all-round hits in baseball history.

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