Tigers may have Cabrera locked up

Tigers may have Cabrera locked up

LAKELAND, Fla. -- While the Detroit Tigers try to firm up their roster for 2008, the biggest priority for the future of the franchise reportedly is on the verge of completion.

According to a report Saturday night on ESPNdeportes.com, the club has reached a preliminary agreement with slugging third baseman Miguel Cabrera on an eight-year contract extension worth $153.3 million.

The Tigers had not reacted to the report as of late Saturday night.

Without a long-term contract, Cabrera would be eligible for free agency after the 2009 season and would be one of the best young hitters to hit the open market in recent years. The reported extension would put him under contract through 2016, when he would be 33 years old and complete the biggest task sitting in front of the Tigers since they traded for Cabrera in December.

Detroit dealt six players to the Florida Marlins, including top prospects Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller, for Cabrera and pitcher Dontrelle Willis with the express intent of locking them up long term. The Tigers reached agreement with Willis on a three-year, $29 million deal in December, putting him under contract through 2010.

Negotiations with Cabrera, however, have been more of a challenge, as expected. Cabrera has proven to be one of baseball's best hitters and will only turn 25 years old next month. He batted .320 last season with 34 home runs and 119 RBIs, raising his career average over five Major League seasons to .313.

The two sides avoided arbitration this winter by agreeing to a one-year, $11.3 million contract, then began talks on a longer-term deal.

The reported extension will pay Cabrera an average of just over $19 million per season and is reportedly pending a physical on Monday. The Tigers were already expected to have a team doctor in town this weekend for other matters. Since Cabrera has been healthy and playing all spring, the physical should be a formality.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.