Sports

$240M MLB Star Rips Critics Who Complain About Baseball Megadeals

Just a few weeks ago, some players were blasting MLB owners for undervaluing players in free agency.

But then Manny Machado, Nolan Arenado and Bryce Harper all signed megadeals and the conversation changed — at least from some players.

Detroit Tigers star Miguel Cabrera said fans shouldn’t be upset about players signing long-term, multimillion-dollar contracts.

“I don’t know why people get mad at us,’’ Cabrera told USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. “They don’t like it when we get money. Why weren’t people mad the first five years when I wasn’t getting paid?”

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Cabrera signed an eight-year, $248 million contract extension in 2014 after he won his second AL MVP Award in 2013. The deal carries an average annual salary of $31 million per year through 2023, according to Spotrac.

The contract was criticized at the time by several pundits, and now, five years later, it seems they had a point. Now 35, Cabrera has been begun to slow, mainly due to injuries.

His first three years after the extension were excellent. Cabrera batted .313 with 25 homers and 108 RBIs in 2014, he hit a league-leading .338 with 18 home runs and 76 RBIs in 2015, and he hit .316 with 38 homers and 108 RBIs in 2016.

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But Cabrera’s production has dropped off the past two years. He batted .249 with 16 home runs and 60 RBIs in 2017, and he sat out most of last season with injuries, playing only 38 games and batting .299.

He still has five more years left on his deal and will be 40 years old when it’s over.

“People can say I’m not worth this contract. They can say whatever they want, really. But they’re not going to hurt my feelings,” Cabrera said. “I’m not going to apologize. Why should anyone be sorry? I don’t see any teams losing money. They all have it.’’

Cabrera is surely a first ballot Hall of Famer and one of the best hitters of his generation, so he’s definitely earned his big payday. But it’s the length of these megadeals that typically comes back to bite the team.

The San Diego Padres, Colorado Rockies and Philadelphia Phillies might come to regret the megadeals they signed this year at some point.

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Machado, 26, signed a 10-year, $300 million deal with the Padres, Arenado, 27, signed an eight-year, $260 million deal with Colorado, while Harper, 26, inked a 13-year, $330 million deal with the Phillies.

Machado and Arenado will be 36 and 35, respectively, when their contracts end, while Harper will be 39.

Cabrera said he doesn’t understand the griping about those deals.

“I don’t get it; it’s crazy,” he told USA Today. “These are great players. They are franchise players. You look at Harper and Manny. They’re already great players, and they’re not even in their prime yet. They’re still learning. We’ve got to open our eyes because they’re going to do some unbelievable things.”

He said the benefits of landing those star players goes beyond the diamond.

“You know how many people are going to go to their games?” Cabrera said. “You know how many people are going to show up on the road to see them? You know what this guy brings to a team?

“I remember when we were good those years in Detroit, it was unbelievable. Everywhere we went, it was full. Everyone wanted to see us play. It’ll be like that in Philly.”

Before Cabrera got to Detroit in 2008, the Tigers had made the playoffs once in 20 years. With Cabrera, they made the playoffs four straight years, including a World Series appearance.

“But my motivation isn’t to prove people wrong, or that I’m worth the contract, but it’s to win games,” he told USA Today. “Perform the best you can, and win, everyone is happy. Winning takes care of everything.”

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Dave is a lifelong sports fan who has been writing for The Wildcard since 2017. He has been a writer for more than 20 years for a variety of publications.
Dave has been writing about sports for The Wildcard since 2017. He's been a reporter and editor for over 20 years, covering everything from sports to financial news. In addition to writing for The Wildcard, Dave has covered mutual funds for Pensions and Investments, meetings and conventions, money market funds, personal finance, associations, and he currently covers financial regulations and the energy sector for Macallan Communications. He has won awards for both news and sports reporting.
Location
Massachusetts
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