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Cabrera's Deal

The Marlins agreed to terms with Miguel Cabrera today, or at least that's what I'm telling myself. In all likelihood, the Marlins (as is their right) unilaterally imposed a new contract on Cabrera. He will be paid $472,000 this season.

Yes, for us regular folks, that's a lot of money. But keep in mind that the major league minimum this season is $327,000. Last year, an average major leaguer earned nearly $2.5 million. Unfortunately for Mr. Cabrera, he is below average in service time, despite being well above average in playing ability. In major league baseball, you'd rather have the reverse of those two things (at least if you like a fat wallet).

To add further insult to the situation:

His contract calls for a $296,000 salary if he's in the minors.

I'm going to assume that's standard language for a contract. I also don't even want to think about what circumstances might cause the Marlins to put Cabrera in the minors; that's a terrifying thought.

Cabrera has been very quiet (at least publicly) on the salary issue. His agent has been very decent too. Per the Herald this morning, they were only "looking" for $450,000 for this season. Granted, that's surely not what Cabrera or his agent think he's worth, but it's what they thought they could get.

Still, I can't help but think that today's contract puts Cabrera one step closer to finding a home elsewhere just as soon as he's eligible for free agency in a few years. For a frame of reference (and it's tough to find a good one, given Cabrera's excellence in the field and mid-year callup in 2003), Albert Pujols was rewarded wtih a $900,000 contract for the 2003 season, after stellar campaigns in 2001 and 2002. Without accounting for inflation, it seems that the Marlins (after two and a half years of Cabrera's services) value Cabrera about half as much as the Cardinals did way back when. Yes, I know that's not a "fair" comparison. But there really isn't a fair comparison to make. My point here is that the Marlins are abusing this system which allows them to decide the salaries of their less experienced players.

Miguel's day will come. Just don't expect to see him in a Marlins uniform when he's enjoying his first big money contract.