DETROIT -- Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera told Venezuelan reporters on Saturday that he would like to remain with the club, but he would not stand in the way of a trade if it benefits both sides.
As the Tigers listen to trade interest in all of their veteran players heading into the Winter Meetings starting on Monday just outside Washington, D.C., Cabrera's comments are his first on the possibility of being traded since general manager Al Avila said the club will look to pare down payroll this offseason and would entertain trade offers to get there.
Speaking in Spanish at his Miggyball charity event in his native Maracay, Cabrera told reporters, including Andriw Sanchez Ruiz of the Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional, that Avila called him about the possibility of a trade. Avila said at last month's General Managers Meetings that he called all of the Tigers' star players about their offseason change and the possibility of a deal.
Cabrera has full no-trade rights as a 10-and-5 player -- 10 or more seasons in the Major Leagues, the last five seasons with the same team. Any trade involving Cabrera would require his approval.
Cabrera said he felt sick over the news, that he likes to play in Detroit and likes the city. He said he hasn't received any calls about specific deals and hopes he doesn't, but if it happens, he hopes to be traded to a good team.
If it's a good deal and a good negotiation, Cabrera said he'll accept a trade. If the trade doesn't benefit both teams, he said, he would prefer to stay in Detroit.
Cabrera became a Tiger through a trade at the Winter Meetings nine years ago, acquired from the Marlins along with Dontrelle Willis for a package of prospects that included current Major Leaguers Andrew Miller and Cameron Maybin.
Cabrera was a budding young star at the time, but he eventually refined his game to become one of the greatest hitters of his or any generation. He won baseball's offensive Triple Crown -- leading the league in batting average, home runs and RBIs -- in 2012. He won four batting titles in a five-year span, something accomplished by just eight other players in modern Major League history, and he won back-to-back American League Most Valuable Player Award honors in 2012 and '13.
The 33-year-old Cabrera enjoyed a bounceback season in 2016, batting .316 with 38 homers and 108 RBIs. His .956 OPS ranked third among AL hitters. His .321 career batting average leads all active Major Leaguers, and he's on a path to climb MLB's all-time list in several offensive categories on his way to the Hall of Fame.
The impetus for the Tigers to entertain a deal isn't performance, but finances and roster makeup. Avila has made it clear the club is looking to get leaner in payroll and younger in roster makeup as it looks to dig out of luxury-tax territory.
Cabrera is under contract for $212 million over the next seven seasons. He also has club options for $30 million in 2024 and '25. If he wanted, Cabrera could ask a team to pick up the options as a condition of approving a trade, which would bring his contract to $272 million over the next nine years.
Cabrera also confirmed to reporters that he intervened during this week's controversy over the Venezuelan team in the upcoming World Baseball Classic amid rumors Omar Vizquel had been dismissed as manager. Players went to the media saying they would only play if Vizquel, who works with Cabrera as the Tigers' first-base coach, is the manager. After three days of conflicting reports, the Venezuelan baseball federation issued a press release saying Vizquel remains the manager after meeting with GM Carlos Guillen, a former teammate of Cabrera in Detroit.
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.