Trout to Kiermaier: The richest signing of all 30 MLB teams

Oct 8, 2022; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor (12) reacts after hitting a solo home run in the first inning during game two of the Wild Card series against the San Diego Padres for the 2022 MLB Playoffs at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 8, 2022; New York City, New York, USA; New York Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor (12) reacts after hitting a solo home run in the first inning during game two of the Wild Card series against the San Diego Padres for the 2022 MLB Playoffs at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /
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Miguel Cabrera. Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports
Miguel Cabrera. Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports /

10. Detroit Tigers

It was said of former team owner Mike Ilitch that he absolutely loved Miguel Cabrera. Well, there was a lot to love. Acquired from Miami in 2008, Cabrera has to date amassed more than 2,200 of his more than 3,000 hits and 369 of his 507 home runs in a Tigers uniform.

He was a core piece of Tiger playoff teams annually from 2011 through 2014.

For those reasons, Ilitch following the 2015 seasons locked up Cabrera for life, giving him an eight-year, $248 million contract. Considering that Cabrera was entering his age-33 season at the time, the deal was suis generis, and it has hamstrung Ilitch’s son and successor, Chris Ilitch, in his efforts to restore the Tigers to a relevant role in the AL Central.

In 2023, the final year of the deal, Cabrera will make $32 million, an amount that represents about 30 percent of the projected $110 million team payroll. It’s hard to build a team by committing 30 percent of payroll to one player, and harder still when that player is in his 40s.

The $248 million Cabrera contract is not only the richest in Detroit franchise history, at $31 million per season it’s also the richest in terms of AAV. The distant runners-up are the nine years and $214 million Mike Ilitch gave to Price Fielder in 2014 (a disaster of a deal for the Tigers, as it worked out) and the seven years, $180 million they gave Justin Verlander in  2013.

That Verlander deal aged better. He was the ace of the team’s postseason staff both in 2006 and from 2011. In time, though, the Cabrera signing crowded out the Verlander signing, and in 2017 the pitcher was off-loaded to Houston, where he helped the Astros to both the 2017 and 2022 World Series victories.