Over the past week, we've heard rumblings about the Tigers making players such as Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson available in order to shed payroll in the coming years. In his latest column, Ken Rosenthal offers up another question: should the Tigers look to trade Miguel Cabrera? Rosenthal opines that it makes financial sense for the Tigers to do just that.
Cabrera, 26, is entering his prime and is already established as one of the game's elite hitters. His bat is the cornerstone of Detroit's offense, and his 209 career home runs and career line of .311/.383/.542 would draw interest from many teams. Cabrera is owed $126MM over the final six years of his contract, however. He also had his share of off-field issues at the end of the season, as the Tigers lost a three-game lead on the AL Central with four games to go. Could the $126MM be spent more effectively by the Tigers? Fangraphs would say that for the time being, Cabrera is worth the money; they valued his performance at $24.3MM in 2009.
The Tigers will have $102.1MM committed to Cabrera, Magglio Ordonez, Jeremy Bonderman, Nate Robertson, Dontrelle Willis, Curtis Granderson, Carlos Guillen, and Brandon Inge in 2010, before arbitration raises to other players including Justin Verlander and Edwin Jackson.
However, following the 2010 season, the contracts of Ordonez, Bonderman, Robertson, Willis, and Inge will be coming off the books in Detroit, freeing up more than $57MM. Given that information, is it better to trade their best hitter to save payroll and stock the farm system, or try to gut it out and work through the financial difficulties that 2010 has to offer? Rosenthal speculates one possible trade scenario to Boston, an exchange of Cabrera for Jonathan Papelbon, Mike Lowell, and a solid prospect such as Lars Anderson or Stolmy Pimentel. What's the better move for the Tigers, and what kind of package could Cabrera fetch if he were available on the trade market this offseason?