“We have one last chance to play together.”
That was the statement of Miguel Cabrera opening the page of the 2017 season of the Detroit Tigers.
It is a campaign that finds the team on the threshold of a turn in its direction.
After sinking in the tail of the American League Central division in 2015, Detroit rebounded last year to set a record of 85-75. The Venezuelan Cabrera shook 38 homers. Justin Verlander flourished laurels, skimming to win a second Cy Young.
But that was insufficient with eight games left behind Cleveland’s Indian leaders in the division and for the second straight year they were absent from the postseason.
Cabrera knows he has several comrades who can declare themselves free agents at the end of the season, as right fielder J.D. Martinez and Venezuelan closer Francisco Rodríguez. He also won the contract for second baseman Ian Kinsler, although it includes a $ 10 million option for 2018.
“We know the kind of talent we have here. We know we’ve been in the playoffs for two years, but if we keep this group, if we’re injury free, we’re going to have the chance to compete,” Cabrera said.
“For me it’s like a last chance,” added the Venezuelan slugger who is starting his 15th season in the majors with a grand total of 446 home runs.
If he fires at least 29 home runs this year, first base will make its way into the top 30 of all-time home runs.
The Tigers are also a team in age: Cabrera turns 34 in April; Verlander and Kinsler have 34; Rodriguez celebrated the 35 in January; And designated batter Víctor Martínez is in the 38
“We’re not going to rejuvenate,” Martinez said. “But we’re going to fight.”
This is where the Tigers face their great dilemma: insisting on their strategy of spending hard from the last decade or going for a renewal.