Miguel Cabrera says he'll move to 3B

Updated: January 25, 2012, 8:10 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Miguel Cabrera told a Venezuelan newspaper that he's moving to third base to accommodate the Detroit Tigers' newest slugger, first baseman Prince Fielder.

"It was something we were talking [about at the Tigers'] fan fest [last week]. Return to third base, that is my natural position," Cabrera told Lider en Deportes. "Fielder's arrival will benefit us."

Fielder on Tuesday agreed to a nine-year, $214 million contract with the Tigers, a source told ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick.

MLB.com, citing an unnamed source, reported that the Tigers agreed to sign the former Milwaukee Brewers first baseman only after they talked to Cabrera first and received his approval.

Cabrera played third base regularly for the Marlins before the Tigers acquired him before the 2008 season. Brandon Inge, Detroit's full-time third baseman last season, has one year left on a two-year, $11.5 million deal with Detroit.

With Cabrera (28) and Fielder (27), Detroit will begin this season with two players younger than 30 with at least 200 career home runs. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that's happened only once before. At the start of the 1961 season, the Milwaukee Braves featured 29-year-old Eddie Mathews (338 homers) and 27-year-old Hank Aaron (219).

"They're better than [Ryan] Braun and Fielder were in Milwaukee," a scout told ESPN.com's Jayson Stark, "because Cabrera is better than either Braun or Fielder. For me, he's the best hitter in the game -- including [Albert] Pujols."

Fielder hit .299 with 38 home runs and 120 RBIs last season. Cabrera led the majors with a .344 average and 48 doubles. He also hit 30 homers and drove in 105 runs.

Fielder hits left-handed, Cabrera from the right side. It will be up to manager Jim Leyland where they hit in the order.

"I don't think there's a better right-left combo in any lineup in baseball," Tigers outfielder Brennan Boesch said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. "I'm sure skip's wheels are already turning on how to set them up."

The AL Central champions boldly stepped up in the Fielder sweepstakes after the recent knee injury to star Victor Martinez. A week ago, the Tigers announced the productive designated hitter/former catcher could miss the entire season after tearing his left anterior cruciate ligament during offseason conditioning.

The Tigers won their division by 15 games before losing in the AL Championship Series to Texas. With Fielder now in the fold, general manager Dave Dombrowski and owner Mike Ilitch have a team that figures to enter the 2012 season as a favorite to repeat in the division -- with an eye on winning the franchise's first World Series title since 1984.

"Everyone knew Mr. Ilitch and Mr. Dombrowski were going to make a move when Victor went down," Boesch said, "but I don't think anybody thought it would be this big."

The move also keeps Fielder's name in the Tigers' family. His father, Cecil, became a big league star when he returned to the majors from Japan and hit 51 home runs with Detroit in 1990. Cecil played with the Tigers into the 1996 season, and young Prince made a name for himself by hitting prodigious home runs in batting practice at Tiger Stadium.

Fielder's deal is only the fourth $200 million contract in baseball history, following Alex Rodriguez's $275 million, 10-year contract with the New York Yankees, A-Rod's $252 million, 10-year deal with Texas and Pujols' $240 million, 10-year contract with the Los Angeles Angels that he signed last month.

Among current players, Fielder's $23.78 million average salary is behind only Rodriguez ($27.5 million), Ryan Howard ($25 million), and Cliff Lee and Pujols ($24 million each).

Cabrera is scheduled to make $21 million in 2012. He signed an eight-year, $152.3 million contract in 2008.

Information from ESPN.com senior writers Jerry Crasnick and Jayson Stark and The Associated Press was used in this report.

ALSO SEE