Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera, the two-time reigning American League Most Valuable Player, will make a major-league record $292 million over the next 10 years after signing an eight-year contract extension Friday.
Cabrera, who has two years and $44 million left on his current deal, will earn $248 million over the eight-year extension.
“This is a special day for my family and for me,” Cabrera said during a press conference at the Tigers’ spring training facility in Lakeland, Fla. “I’m thankful because I want to finish my career here. I want to be a Tiger for many years.”
The average salary of the contract is $31 million, which tops the previous record of $30,714,286 set by Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw. He signed a seven-year, $215 million contract in January.
The contract total is higher than third baseman Alex Rodriguez’s then-record 10-year, $275 million contract with the New York Yankees in 2007.
“Any time you give long-term contracts you’re concerned … because anything can happen in the game,” general manager Dave Dombrowski said.
However, Dombrowski also acknowledged that Cabrera is worth the risk because he is the best player in baseball. He said Cabrera is a “dedicated hard-worker committed to excellence.”
Cabrera, who turns 31 on April 18, led the American League in batting average (.348), on-base percentage (.442) and slugging percentage (.636) last year. In 2012, he won the Triple Crown, topping the league in average (.330), home runs (44) and RBIs (139).
Cabrera is an eight-time All-Star and five-time Silver Slugger winner. Prior to winning consecutive MVPs, he ranked among the top five in MVP voting five times.
After spending the past two seasons as a third baseman, Cabrera is moving back to first base this year.
Cabrera broke into the majors with the Marlins in 2003, and he helped Florida win the World Series that year. He played five seasons for Florida before he was traded to Detroit in December 2007 along with left-hander Dontrelle Willis for six players, including outfielder Cameron Maybin, right-hander Burke Badenhop and left-hander Andrew Miller.
The new contract with Cabrera ties up a second member of the Tigers’ nucleus for the long term. Right-hander Justin Verlander signed a seven-year, $180 million deal in March 2013, and right-hander Max Scherzer, the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, recently turned down a lengthy contract that reportedly would have paid him around $24 million per year.
Scherzer is due to become a free agent after this season.