The Marlins are nearing a major decision on Miguel Cabrera: build around him or trade him for an unprecedented bounty. The budding superstar will be 23 this season and hits arbitration for the first time next winter.
Palm Beach Post journalist Joe Capozzi writes that GM Larry Beinfest declined comment on Cabrera’s future with the team. He points out that Cabrera may score a payday of $7-10MM in arbitration after the season. Given that the Marlins didn’t want to pay Josh Beckett $4-5MM this winter, it stands to reason that they may consider trading Cabrera during the 2006 season.
Cabrera can play third base or the outfield corners. He’s obviously the type of player teams build around, with a laundry list of HOFers on his comparables list. Frank Robinson, Albert Pujols, Vladimir Guerrero, Eddie Murray, Hank Aaron, and Johnny Bench all appear within his ten most similar players. Cabrera would be a bargain if he was paid $15MM annually over the next five seasons.
I would expect the Yankees to pursue him aggressively if he’s available, likely offering up the one gem in their farm system, Philip Hughes. I could see the Angels getting involved if they’d be willing to surrender Howie Kendrick or Brandon Wood. The Dodgers and Mets could also make a play.
One more note on Cabrera. Ron Shandler’s 2006 Baseball Forecaster had some interesting comments this year:
"He could get even better…a power spike may be on the horizon…as long as this is really all him."
I edited some stat-related stuff out of the comment, but that’s the gist of it. It certainly makes sense to call for 40+ HR seasons from Cabrera, but to imply steroid use? I guess someone had to throw it out there; I hadn’t seen it in print until now. I can’t judge Shandler for it; after all, we just witnessed a tainted era in baseball history. Plus, I’ve been known to monger many a steroid rumor in my day.
Hopefully players start getting on board for the Player’s Promise Program to ease our concerns. A description of this new non-profit program:
"The PBFA has asked each and every player with a MLB contract to sign a Players Promise which states that they will not use steroids or other performance enhancing drugs now or in the future. Since the program is not trying to conduct a "witch hunt" we will not be asking the players for any information regarding any previous use of these substances."