Monday, March 31, 2014

Bang For Their Buck: The Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout Signings

Major League Baseball teams have been known to dole out the big bucks to their star players, with no maximum on how much the contract can be worth. This has led to contracts like Alex Rodriguez's 10-year, $275 million, or the recent signing of Robinson Cano by the Seattle Mariners, for 10-years, totaling $240 million. Within the last week, two more names have been added to list of top contracts in all of sports; Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers, and Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels. Ironically, these two are regarded as the top two players in all of baseball.

Miguel Cabrera has been in the league for 11 years, and is going into his age 31 season. Over these 11 years, Cabrera has not only established himself as a top player in the league, but also as the first batter to win the Triple Crown in 45 years. He has also accumulated two MVP awards, two Hank Aaron Awards, and five Silver Slugger awards. Tigers general manager Dave Dombroski has mentioned many times throughout the past offseason that he would not let his top player in the league walk during free agency. Cabrera was under contract for two more years, and was due $44 million over that time. Dombroksi decided before Cabrera even got the thought of leaving the Motor City, he signed Cabrera for eight more years, along with $248 million more.

Many analysts across the league were baffled by the contract being that large. Just compared to other sports, Cabrera is making $156 million more than basketball's top paid player, Kobe Bryant, and $160 million more than football's top paid player, Calvin Johnson Jr. Basketball superstar LeBron James, who has the option to hit free-agency for the NBA this year has been quoted saying he would opt out of his current contract with the Miami Heat if he could command such a large contract. Miguel's numbers do certainly warrant a big pay day, as he seven consecutive seasons of 30+ home runs, ten consecutive seasons of 100+ RBIs, and five consecutive years of batting over .320. The contract will run until Cabrera turns 40, and the Tigers have already taken some precautions to make sure they did not waste their money. They have shifted him from third base to the less-demanding first base, as Cabrera developed some hip problems towards the end of the 2013 season. 

Mike Trout broke out onto the scene in 2012, posting unbelievable numbers as a 20 year-old. In 139 games, he hit 30 home runs, 49 stolen bases, a .326 average, and a league-high 10.7 Wins Above Replacement. These numbers led him to a Rookie of the Year award, along with a Silver Slugger award, which he won again in 2013 off of almost duplicate numbers. Trout has also shown amazing glove work, having one of the most recognizable catches of the past decade at Camden Yards in Baltimore, MD. Angels GM Jerry Dipoto is no stranger to signing players to large contracts, bringing in Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols both on contracts over $125 million. But Trout is is a different category than those two, as he is only 22, and turning 23 in mid-August, and is already the face of the MLB. Even with all of these accolades, Trout was only sechuled to make one million dollars, as part of being a young player who was arbitration eligible. 

Dipoto changed all of that when he extended Trout on a six-year, $144.5 million contract, which ranks 29th in all of professional sports. Starting in 2015, Trout will from making one million dollars to a staggering 24 million. Trout signed this contract at the perfect time. When the contract expires, he will younger than Cabrera is right now, and Trout has more to offer in the fielding and base running departments. The contract gives Trout a luxury suite at 20 Angels home games, along with having a full no-trade clause included. 

Cabrera and Trout have finished first and second in the MVP voting for the past two years, respectively, and could be battling each other for that title for many years to come. Although both contracts seem excessive for athlete, the Angels and Tigers both wanted to lock up their stars for the future. The baseball season is a long one, 162 games, which is one reason why players can be paid so much, as teams can acquire a large amount of revenue over the course of six months, and the star players only bring in more money. Many teams do any and everything they can to not let their stars walk via free agency, as in baseball, if you don't pay your player the big bucks, there is always someone else that will. 
Bennett Schiff is a freshman in the Drexel Sport Management program, and one of the few members of the major from the powerful state of Rhode Island. He has volunteered for the U.S. Open of Squash held at Drexel as well as becoming a member of the Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity. Prior to arriving on Drexel's campus, Schiff was very active in his local community with his synagogue.

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