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Cabrera-fied Screwing
2006-03-02 21:02
by Mike Carminati

Miguel Cabrera re-signed with the slash-and-burn Marlins today for the lowly sum of $472K. Four hundred and seventy-two?

What, they couldn't spring for the extra $28K to make it an even half-million?

And they had the gall to add a provision should he find himself in the minors this year. If that should happen, Cabrera will make $296K. The man hit 33 home runs each of the last two seasons, and they couldn't guarantee the $176K difference? That wouldn't pay the weekly liquor bill for Jeffrey Loria's suite at Joe Dolphin Player Stadium-agig.

Besides what series of events could occur to drive Cabrera off the major-league roster? The Marlins have basically a Triple-A lineup going into 2006. Cabrera's the only guaranteed starting position player with any experience. Retreads Pokey Reese and Wes Helms have plenty of experience but will be battling rookies for playing time. Cabrera could pull a Glenn Davis this season and the Marlins would still be hard-pressed to replace him.

That aside, the Marlins have now signed all of their players for 2006. Now we can complete the payroll calculations that I started investing as the Marlins cut veterans (here and here).

I originally estimated Cabrera and Willis would get $5 M each, under the assumption that both were eligible for arbitration. Cabrera missed the cut for arbitration—he only played 87 games in 2003. After Willis signed for $4.35M, I reset Cabrera to $3M.

Boy, was I wrong.

In any event, we now have the final numbers for the non-rookie players. It gets grimmer and grimmer each time I do this. Here is a comparison between last year's and this year's payroll:

Player2005 Salary2006 status2006 Salary
Mike Lowell$7,500,000 Traded to Red Sox
Al Leiter$7,000,000 No longer with team
Luis Castillo$5,166,667 Traded to Twins
Paul Lo Duca$4,666,667 Traded to Mets
Juan Encarnacion$4,435,000 Free Agent
Carlos Delgado$4,000,000 Traded to Mets
Juan Pierre$3,700,000 Traded To Cubs
A.J. Burnett$3,650,000 FA;signed with Blue Jays
Alex Gonzalez$3,400,000 Free Agent
Jeff Conine$3,000,000 Free Agent
Guillermo Mota$2,600,000 Traded to Red Sox
Josh Beckett$2,400,000 Traded to Red Sox
Ismael Valdez$1,500,000 Free Agent
Todd Jones$1,100,000 FA; signed with Tigers
Jim Mecir$1,100,000 Free Agent
Damion Easley$750,000 FA; signed with D-Backs
John Riedling$750,000 FA, signed with Cards
Matt Perisho$475,000 No longer with team
Lenny Harris$425,000 FA;re-signed to minor-league contract
Brian Moehler$400,000 Free Agent; re-signed; SP$1,500,000
Dontrelle Willis$378,500 SP$4,350,000
Miguel Cabrera$370,000 Starting 3B (RF?)$472,000
Nate Bump$360,000 RP$400,000
Chris Aguila$316,000 Starting LF$327,000
Matt Treanor$316,000 Backup C$327,000
Antonio Alfonseca$300,000 Free Agent, option declined
Mike Mordecai$425,000 Free Agent
Paul Quantrill$3,000,000 Free Agent
Jason Vargas?SP$327,000
Randy Messenger ?RP$327,000
Ron Villone $1,950,000 Traded to Yankees
Valerio de los Santos?RP$327,000
Scott Olsen?SP$327,000
Chris Resop?RP$327,000
Josh Johnson ?SP$327,000
Robert Andino?UT INF$327,000
Jeremy Hermida?Starting RF?$327,000
Joe Dillon ?New 2B or UT?$327,000
Josh Willingham ?Starting C/LF?$327,000
Josh Wilson ?New 2B?$327,000
Ryan Jorgensen ?Backup C?$327,000
Alfredo Amezaga$0 New 3B?$340,000
Mike Jacobs$0 Starting 1B (C?)$327,000
Eric ReedStarting CF?$327,000
Hanley Ramirez$0 Starting SS$327,000
Sergio Mitre$0 SP$330,000
Alfredo AmezagaUT INF$340,000
Miguel OlivoC$400,000
Joe Borowski CL$1,000,000
Pokey ReeseStarting 2B$800,000
Wes Helms 1B/3B$800,000
Total$60,058,834 $ 16,291,000
Mordecai is based on 200428
Quantrill's 2005 contract was with the Yankees
Villone's 2005 salary was paid by the Mariners
Olivo's salary based on 2005 salary
Borowski's salary was estimated
Salary Lost$61,343,334
Possible Payroll $ 15,310,000
Decrease $ 44,748,834 -75%
Lowest possible (all lg min) 8,175,000

So there you have it. The Marlins could possibly pay just under twice the league minimum payroll (that is, 25 times the league minimum, $327K, or $8.175M). And that's assuming that higher-paid players like Reese and Helms make the team. With the current crop, I estimate the payroll at $16,291,000, but that would fall to at least $15,310,000 when they get down to 25 players. The net effect would be that Florida would cut 75% of their payroll from last year.

That would put the Marlins at the fifth lowest payroll since 1995 and the lowest since the Expos and Pirates in 1998:

YrTeam Payroll
1998Montreal Expos $ 10,641,500
1997Pittsburgh Pirates $ 10,771,667
1995Montreal Expos $ 12,364,000
1998Pittsburgh Pirates $ 15,065,000
2006Florida Marlins $ 15,310,000
1996Montreal Expos $ 16,264,500
2000Minnesota Twins $ 16,519,500
1997Detroit Tigers $ 17,272,000
1995Milwaukee Brewers $ 17,798,825
1999Montreal Expos $ 17,903,000
1995Pittsburgh Pirates $ 18,355,345
1997Montreal Expos $ 19,295,500
2003Tampa Bay Devil Rays $ 19,630,000
2000Florida Marlins $ 19,872,000

But if that's not enough, let's shift the focus back to the Cabrera low-balling. Cabrera batted .323 with 33 homers and a .947 OPS last season. I took a look at the lowest salaries doled out to players coming off of similar seasons (from 1985 players batting at least .300 with a minimum of 30 HR and a .900 OPS). Cabrera's is the fifth-lowest deal and the worst in twelve years. Here are the only men meeting the criteria who made less than one million dollars the next year:

PlayerYr Salary HRBAOPS
Will Clark1988 $ 320,000 35.308.951
Danny Tartabull1988 $ 330,000 34.309.931
Rick Wilkins1994 $ 350,000 30.303.937
Kirby Puckett1987 $ 465,000 31.328.903
Miguel Cabrera2006 $ 472,000 33.323.947
Lance Berkman2002 $ 500,000 34.3311.051
Larry Sheets1988 $ 540,000 31.316.921
Mike Piazza1994 $ 600,000 35.318.932
Albert Pujols2002 $ 600,000 37.3291.013
Frank Thomas1992 $ 620,000 32.3181.006
Brook Jacoby1988 $ 812,500 32.300.928
Vernon Wells2004 $ 870,000 33.317.909
Albert Pujols2003 $ 900,000 34.314.955

When one considers that Cabrera isn't a one-year flash in the pan, that he has hit 33 home runs each of the last two seasons, the Marlins' offer is even more unbelievable. Only two players coming off consecutive thirty-homer seasons have been rewarded with less money, and they were at least 18 years ago. Only 13 have made $1.5M or less out of the 225 players who qualify:

PlayerYr Salary Prev HRPrev BAPrev OPSHR 2yrs prior
Ron Kittle1985 $ 300,000 32.215.74835
Jose Canseco1988 $ 325,000 31.257.78033
Miguel Cabrera2006 $ 472,000 33.323.94733
Mark McGwire1989 $ 510,500 32.260.83049
Dave Kingman1986 $ 730,000 30.238.72635
Albert Pujols2003 $ 900,000 34.314.95537
Tony Armas1985 $ 915,000 43.268.83136
Dave Parker1987 $ 1,100,000 31.273.80734
Richie Sexson2001 $ 1,125,000 30.272.84831
Nomar Garciaparra1999 $ 1,400,000 35.323.94630
Fred McGriff1990 $ 1,450,000 36.269.92434
Darryl Strawberry1989 $ 1,495,000 39.269.91139
Mark McGwire1990 $ 1,500,000 33.231.80632

Cabrera should get battle pay for the atrocities he will see on the field this year. The only thrills for the Marlins will be measured by how badly the perform. Will they be worse than the 2003 Tigers? The 1962 Mets? The 1899 Cleveland Spiders? Will Dontrelle Willis have a season on par with Steve Carlton in 1972? Carlton won a Cy Young despite how woefully his Phils performed that year (he collected 27 of their 59 wins). How far down can their attendance go, triple digits per home game?

At least the Marlins fans' (if there are any left) loss will be my gain. I can't wait for the historic pain to begin. Dare I dream that they will out-bad even the Spiders? Dare. Dare.

2006-03-02 21:12:29
1.   King of the Hobos
Wow, when Brian Moehler is making the 2nd highest amount of money on your team...
2006-03-02 22:26:11
2.   Levy2020
What rule forces Cabrera to take this ridiculously low number. The Yankees or Red Sox would pay him at least $10M.
2006-03-02 22:55:52
3.   das411
How cool would a Miggy C for Delmon Young trade be right about now?
2006-03-03 05:50:02
4.   Mike Carminati

The CBA sets up the system by which players get arbitration and can become free agents. Cabrera does not yet qualify. Therefore, he can accept the team's offer or sit out. I guess he pushed it as far as he could--it is spring training. And sitting out is aided by the press trumpeting your case, something that's hard to do from Venezuela, where Cabrera's from.

I expect him to get traded just before he becomes arbitration-eligible next year or the Marlins are folded and Loria becomes a minority owner in Boston (thereby, allowing him to become a Red Sock), whichever comes first.

2006-03-05 22:07:53
5.   das411
Quick Mike, Pokey is now out of the picture, update all of those charts!
2006-03-06 05:56:23
6.   mattapp
What really stinks about all this is that the Marlins are now guaranteed a huge profit. Their share of the national revenue packages alone will exceed $30 million and you know they are going to pull in more via revenue sharing.

I should be surprised that Loria is allowed to pull this crap off, but then again, the owners did give him the Marlins after he ran the Expos into the ground -- an act that by itself should have made Congress revoke MLB's antitrust exemptions.

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