Miguel Cabrera recently hit his 500th home run, a marquee achievement for one of the most accomplished players in MLB history. Asked by Sage Steele of ESPN this morning how long he planned to continue his illustrious career, Cabrera said he expects to conclude after the 2023 season (h/t to Chris McCosky of the Detroit News).
“Two years, that’s it,” Cabrera told Steele. “My right knee is really bad. I need to take care of this in the offseason and prepare myself for next season. I’m going to play two more years. I think that’s enough. I will be happy with 20 years in the big leagues if I can make it. I would say thank God for the opportunity and I say two more years and I’m done.”
While it’s not surprising to hear Cabrera is planning to retire two years from now, today’s comments were notably more conclusive than when he addressed the subject last September. At that time, Cabrera left open the possibility of playing beyond 2023. Obviously, improved health or performance over the next couple seasons could change the calculus, but Cabrera’s comments this morning mark the 38-year-old’s most definitive declaration to date of his long-term plans.
It’s no coincidence that the guaranteed portion of Cabrera’s March 2014 contract extension concludes at the end of that 2023 season. Cabrera will make successive $32MM salaries in 2022 and 2023, in addition to an $8MM buyout of a $30MM vesting option for the 2024 campaign. (Cabrera’s option would only vest if he finished in the top ten of MVP award voting in 2023, which is obviously extremely unlikely).
Still, it wasn’t out of the question Cabrera could’ve looked for another opportunity in free agency over the 2023-24 offseason. Instead, it seems he’s content to wrap things up once his time with the Tigers comes to an end. In addition to reaching 500 home runs, Cabrera should record his 3000th hit at some point over the next calendar year (he’s at 2958 currently). As he mentioned, Cabrera will also reach twenty years of MLB service time in 2023, assuming the Tigers keep him on the roster through the end of his deal. Reaching those milestones over the coming seasons will symbolically cement his status as one of the greatest hitters of all time.