Tigers drafting Spencer Torkelson would be first true admission of Miguel Cabrera’s obvious decline

Miguel Cabrera (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Miguel Cabrera (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Tigers are projected to take Spencer Torkelson with the No. 1 pick.

For a team with very few top hitting prospects in their farm system in the Detroit Tigers, there is no clearer selection than Arizona State first baseman Spencer Torkelson with the first pick in Wednesday’s MLB Draft. Detroit’s best prospects all consist of pitchers in Casey Mize, Matt Manning and Tarik Skubal. They lack a power threat, especially on the infield, and Torkelson combined for 48 home runs in his first two seasons as a Sun Devil. He’s yet to turn 21, and most pundits predict he’ll be a quick riser in their farm system. There is no real debate among Al Avila and his team of scouts, at least not anymore.

Yet, in selecting Torkelson, they’re admitting what would’ve been unthinkable just a few seasons ago: Miguel Cabrera’s decline has sped up dramatically.

Are the Tigers drafting Spencer Torkelson to replace Miguel Cabrera?

The short answer here is no, at least not yet. Miggy has shown in limited time he can provide an offensive boost as a DH. Cabrera signed an eight-year, $244 million extension with the Tigers in 2014, so he’s still tied to the Tigers for at least two more seasons. Detroit hopes those seasons are milestone-filled, as Cabrera still has a legitimate shot at 500 home runs (477 currently) and 3,000 hits (2,815 right now).

The future Hall of Famer has dealt with a slew of injuries to his knee, biceps and hamstring. None of that is doing his power any favors. Torkelson, meanwhile, has some of the best offensive upside of any MLB Draft prospect since Bryce Harper.

As painful as it may be, Cabrera’s best days are behind him. He hasn’t made an All-Star team since 2016, and the Tigers are still several years away from contention, even with an improving farm system. Drafting Torkelson is acknowledging the inevitable — Cabrera’s baseball mortality is showing.

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