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Report: Tigers and Miguel Cabrera discussing extension

Tigers and Miguel Cabrera discussing a contract extension, but for how much and how long?

Tigers are discussing a contract extension for Cabrera
Tigers are discussing a contract extension for Cabrera
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Jayson Stark has reported at ESPN that the Tigers are discussing a contract extension for their triple crown winning MVP, Miguel Cabrera.

Stark writes in his Rumblings and Grumblings column:

One friend of Cabrera told Rumblings that there have been enough informal conversations that both sides expect a deal to get done, and possibly sooner than later. But at what length and dollars?

Some executives have speculated something along the lines of three years, $90 million, with a vesting option or two, tacked onto the $44 million he has coming in 2014-15. But a three-year extension would take Cabrera through only age 35, and the guaranteed portion of the Fielder and Verlander deals both carry them through their age-36 season. So it's hard to imagine Cabrera wouldn't dig in for at least a four-year extension, and possibly more.

"I see this as more like five years times $28 [million]," said another exec. "I think he takes the lower AAV to get an extra year or two. In the end, more money."

Cabrera's current contract runs through the 2015 season, paying him $ 21 million this season, and $ 22 million each of the next two years, at which time he will become a free agent, unless his contract is extended. His 2013 salary is the eleventh highest salary in the major leagues. A full list of the top 125 salaries is here, as we previously reported.

The Tigers signed first baseman Prince Fielder to a nine year, $ 214 million contract, at $ 23 million for this season, and $ 24 million per year through the 2020 season. The club then signed MVP and Cy Young winner Justin Verlander to a five year extension which will pay him $ 20 million this season and next, and then $ 28 million per year with a final option year at $ 22 million through the 2020 season, according to Cot's contracts.

Cabrera, who will be 32 when his contract expires in 2015, figures to get at least as much salary as Verlander, in the $ 28 to $ 30 million range, and perhaps for three to five years.

Stark's sources chimed in:

"If I represented him," said one veteran agent, "I'd try to negotiate something right now. He's got better leverage at 30 than he'd have if he was trying to go someplace else at 32. I'd be shooting not so much for the years, but for the highest AAV [average annual value] in the game. And I think he could get that."

Fielder currently ranks seventh on the list of highest paid players this season, while Verlander ranks 16th. When Verlander's extension kicks in for the 2015 season, he would be the highest paid player in the game as of right now, subject to what happens with Cabrera, Clayton Kershaw, and others. I would bet the over on Cabrera's salary in 2016 topping Verlander's.

If Cabrera receives an extension at $ 30 million per year, the club will be obligated for almost $ 100 million for four players: Cabrera, Verlander, Fielder, and Sanchez. $ 26 million or more will come off the books just as Verlander's extension kicks in for the 2015 season, due to the expiring contracts of Torii Hunter and Victor Martinez. Max Scherzer is scheduled to hit free agency the same year. If a few of the Tigers' young farm hands would step up production and contribute by then, that would be very nice absolutely necessary.

Detroit carries the fifth highest payroll in the major leagues this season at just under $ 147 million. That figure will only increase as contracts escalate, especially for the big four, plus Max Scherzer, Doug Fister, Austin Jackson and Rick Porcello, who are in their arbitration years and headed toward eventual free agency.

It would seem that this is a deal that has to get done. For the Tigers to pay Fielder and Verlander, and then allow Cabrera to leave would seem out of sorts. Surely they will get Cabrera signed to an extension. How much they will then have left to pay his team mates remains to be seen.