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Tigers waive Miguel Cabrera’s insurance requirement for the WBC

A similar issue saw Clayton Kershaw pulled off of Team USA, but the Tigers had a pretty easy decision here.

World Baseball Classic - Pool D - Game 6 - Mexico v Venezuela Photo by Miguel Tovar/Getty Images

The World Baseball Classic is a cool event and the last iteration provided some classic moments and memories, but it comes with numerous issues for major league franchises. Not only does it interrupt the middle of spring training, but players have to ramp up their training intensity much earlier than normal. This can have effects all season long, particularly for pitchers, but there’s also the more acute concern of getting hurt in the WBC at play. So, players under guaranteed contracts need their contracts insured to mitigate the possibility of injury hurting their major league team.

That insurance is hard to come by for some, particularly older players with long injury histories. Clayton Kershaw and Miguel Cabrera, playing for Team USA and Team Venezuela, ran into the same problem. They couldn’t be insured by their WBC clubs.

Jorge Castillo for the LA Times breaks down the details of the insurance coverage.

The insurance coverage — which has always gone through Team Scotti, a Pittsburgh-based broker recently bought by NFP — protects teams from having to pay a player for time missed because of an injury stemming from the tournament. If an injury is determined to have happened in the WBC, then the team is reimbursed for the time the player misses. WBC participants are required to undergo entrance and exit physicals to help glean injury information.

This is an unfortunate development for Team USA, which has struggled to get the best players possible. It was announced on Friday that the long-time Dodgers great will have to pull out of the event as a result of the insurance issue. That leaves Team USA scrambling to replace him on short notice, with teams already extremely wary of the event, which won’t end until late March.

A similar fate could have befallen Team Venezuela, but knowing how much it means to Cabrera and to his home country to have their greatest baseball player on the club, the Tigers have decided to waive the insurance requirement and allow Cabrera to participate.

On the one hand, this is a nice gesture to Cabrera as playing for Team Venezuela was meant to kickoff his farewell tour in his final year as a major leaguer. On the other, this was a lot easier decision for the Tigers than for the Dodgers.

The Dodgers are trying to win a World Series this season while getting their payroll a bit more in order, and so they need to get as much healthy Kershaw as possible in their rotation. He’s due to make $20 million this season on a one year deal, and would be irreplaceable even if they received compensation from insurance on him.

Cabrera is no longer capable of contributing to the same degree, and the Tigers know their fate this season has little to do with whether Cabrera is in the lineup or not. Should he get injured, it frankly just opens up playing time for young players and doesn’t impact the organization’s chances of success in any way. His guaranteed $32 million is already a sunk cost on the payroll this season.

So, the Tigers great’s final season will start as it should, representing his home country in the WBC tournament in March. Certainly it was a pretty easy decision for the Tigers to make, but it’s the right one and we’re glad to see they decided to let Cabrera participate.