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Tigers' Cabrera to earn record US$292 million over 10 years

Florida---Venezuelan slugger Miguel Cabrera agreed Friday to the richest contract in American sports, a US$292 million, 10-year deal with the Detroit Tigers.

“I want to finish my career here. I have worked hard to get better, and Detroit is like a house for me,” Cabrera said at the announcement at the Tigers' spring training complex.

Cabrera was due US$44 million over the final two years of his US$152.3 million, eight-year contract. The new agreement incorporates that money and adds US$248 million guaranteed over the following eight years, including an option buyout.

Cabrera turns 31 next month and has helped the Tigers win three straight American League Central division championships. A slugger with power to all fields and still very much in his prime, he is among seven players to hit at least .320 with 365 homers and 1,260 RBIs, joining Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig, Albert Pujols and Stan Musial.

“He's on track to be one of the greatest players in the history of baseball,” Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said. “He's done a lot for the team and a lot for Detroit.”

Cabrera has won the last two AL Most Valuable Player awards, both times beating out Angels phenom Mike Trout in votes that set off heated disputes in the baseball world.

In a separate move Friday, Trout and the Los Angeles Angels agreed to a US$144.5 million, six-year contract, keeping baseball's brightest young star under club control through 2020.

The Cabrera deal came shortly before opening day in Detroit, a game against Kansas City on Monday, and soon after Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer turned down the team's long-term contract proposal.

The Tigers are again among the favorites to go far this season. Cabrera won a World Series ring with the Marlins as a 20-year-old rookie and is trying to bring a title to Detroit for the first time in three decades.

Cabrera will make US$43,195 per plate appearance under the deal, based on his yearly average of 676 plate appearances during six seasons with the Tigers. That's higher than the average U.S. yearly wage of US$42,498 in 2012, according to the Social Security Administration.

Cabrera's new deal will raise his career Major League Baseball earnings to US$413.8 million, including the US$1.8 million signing bonus he got as a 16-year-old with Florida in 1999 when Dombrowski oversaw the move by the Marlins. Cabrera was acquired by Detroit in a December 2007 trade.

An eight-time MLB All-Star, Cabrera has a .321 career average with 365 homers and 1,260 RBIs. He played 148 games last year despite a sore back and left hip flexor, a strained lower abdomen, shin trouble and a groin tear that hampered him in the postseason and led to offseason surgery.

His body might get more of a break this season. He's moving across the diamond, shifting from third base back to his previous position at first base after Prince Fielder was traded to Texas.

Cabrera takes over baseball's highest-paying contract from Alex Rodriguez, who agreed to a US$252 million, 10-year deal with Texas that started in 2001, was traded to the Yankees after three seasons and then signed a US$275 million, 10-year deal with New York in December 2006.

Cabrera hit .348 with 44 homers and 137 RBIs last season to win his second straight Most Valuable Player award.

He also won the Triple Crown in 2012 — becoming the first player to lead either league in batting average, homers and RBIs since 1967, when Boston's Carl Yastrzemski pulled off the rare feat.

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Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera shares a laugh with Tigers President, CEO and General Manager David Dombrowski during a news conference where the details of Cabrera's eight-year contract extension was officially announced in Lakeland, Florida on Friday, March 28. (AP)

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