The Washington Nationals have been rumored to checking in on Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera, but it wouldn’t make sense for the Nats
In the offseason, Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo hasn’t made any major splash signings yet, but the offseason is early. However, the trade rumors have been active involving ace starting pitchers like Chris Sale and Chris Archer. On Tuesday, another surprise name emerged in trade rumors.
Late Tuesday night, David Vassegh, who is the co-host of Dodger Talk on AM 570 in Los Angeles, tweeted that the Washington Nationals have called about Tigers first baseman and two-time American League MVP Miguel Cabrera:
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This past season, Cabrera had a slash line of .316/.393/.563 with 38 home runs and 108 RBI’s in 158 games. Heading into his age 34 season, Cabrera is still owed over $200 million over the next seven years and has $30 million vesting options for 2024 and 2025.
Over his 14 seasons in the league, the 11-time All-Star has driven over 100 runs in all but two of his seasons. One of them came in 2015 when Cabrera played in 119 games. During the 2016 campaign, Cabrera was in the top five in the American League in OPS (second), slugging percentage (third), and batting average (fourth). Plus, he was eighth in the AL in home runs.
Cabrera had a strong finish to the season as the Tigers were trying to make their push for the playoffs. In the second half, he hit .346 with 20 home runs and 55 RBI’s with a .423 on-base percentage. His 20 home runs were tied for the fifth most in the AL over that span and two behind his teammate, Justin Upton.
While it’s fun to imagine Cabrera and Bryce Harper in the same lineup, it would be tough for the Washington Nationals to take on this kind of contract with their ongoing fight over MASN money. Plus, the Nats still have to find a way to pay Harper when his contract is up after 2018.
To get some perspective on whether or not a Cabrera to the Nats deal would make sense from a Tigers perspective, I got some thoughts from the co-editor at Motor City Bengals, Ben Rosener. Here is what he had to say:
"“The Nats may make sense from a prospect/young talent standpoint. That being said, I’m not sure if Cabrera will be moved. Detroit is certainly listening on everyone, but Al Avila wants to keep the team competitive. It’s going to be hard to sell that to fans if Avila trades arguably the best hitter of his (Cabrera’s) generation.That being said, if he is moved, it’s probably going to be for everything and the kitchen sink—and then some. Trea Turner, Joe Ross and Lucas Giolito are three names that make sense. Rendon and Reynaldo Lopez are fits as well.”"
The Washington Nationals already have a first baseman on the roster in Ryan Zimmerman, who is under contract until 2019. While Cabrera had the better offensive season in 2016, Zimmerman was better defensively. According to Fangraphs, Cabrera had -6 defensive runs saved in 2016 while Zimmerman was at -2.
With the Washington Nationals having other needs at catcher, closer, and a power bat in the outfield, Cabrera doesn’t make much sense to the team’s future plans. It would make more sense for the Nats to give up top prospects for Sale or Archer than give them up for an aging first baseman.
If the Nats do want to upgrade at first base, it makes more sense for them to sign someone like Brandon Moss to provide more power off the bench behind Zimmerman. Cabrera is a fun name to think about, but I can’t see this kind of deal happening, if the Tigers even trade Cabrera at all.