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By John Lowe | Detroit Free Press
LAKELAND, Fla. — Miguel Cabrera’s bid to become one of the greatest hitters of all time apparently will take place in a Detroit Tigers uniform.
CBS Sports first reported Thursday that the Tigers and Cabrera have agreed to a long-term extension that will keep him with the club at least through 2021, if not longer.
Fox Sports reports the extension is for eight years and $248 million ($31 million per year), the second deal in baseball history worth at least $30 million per season. Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, one year from free agency, signed a long-term deal for $30.7 million per season.
That would put Cabrera’s total contract at 10 years and $292 million (through 2023). That would surpass Alex Rodriguez for the most lucrative contract in baseball history, by total value.
The Tigers have planned a major announcement Friday at their training base in Lakeland, it was learned from a person familiar with the situation. That would appear to be where they will announce Cabrera’s extension – a rousing sendoff from Florida on their final day in camp there.
Cabrera, who turns 31 next month, is two years away from free agency. At about this same time last year, the Tigers signed right-hander Justin Verlander to a seven-year extension when he was two years from free agency.
In his six years in Detroit, Cabrera has gone from being an excellent young hitter to inarguably the best hitter in the game. He also has shown that he could enter the conversation to be among the best hitters ever. Over the past three seasons, he has become the first right-handed hitter to win three straight batting titles since Rogers Hornsby, widely regarded as the best right-handed hitter ever, won six straight in 1920-25.
Cabrera is five hits shy of 2,000 in his career. He figures to get there by the time he turns 31 in mid-April. His past two seasons have been the best two of his career. In 2012, he became baseball’s first Triple Crown winner in 45 years. In each of the past two seasons, he has run away with the AL MVP.
The designated hitter rule means that Cabrera can remain a daily threat in the lineup even if he reaches a point where he no longer plays every day in the field. Cabrera has returned to first base this year after two years at third base.
Cabrera’s signing will be a major victory for the Tigers about a week after a setback: Max Scherzer’s rejection of a long-term offer that was reported to be for six years at $144 million. Scherzer now appears headed for free agency this fall.
As of early Thursday evening, it was unclear whether Cabrera’s new deal would begin immediately and override the remaining two years of his contract, or it would be an extension that begins in 2016. Under his current long-term deal, Cabrera is due to make $22 million this season and again next season.