Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera walks back retirement comments, says he will return for 2023 season

A day after making comments that appeared to suggest that he would consider retirement after the 2022 season, Tigers legend Miguel Cabrera said that he would be returning to the diamond for the 2023 season.

The future first-ballot Hall of Famer is in the midst of the worst season of his career. He has struggled at the plate while dealing with knee problems, slashing .268/.317/.332 with just four homers in 91 games.

But with one fully guaranteed year — at $32 million — remaining on the eight-year, $248 million contract extension he signed in 2015, Cabrera is ready to gear up for another season in Comerica Park.

“I’m not going to retire,” he said Friday, per the Detroit News. “Not until after next year when my contract is done. They didn’t understand what I said. No way am I going to quit.”

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Cabrera told reporters Thursday he would talk to multiple people about 2023, seemingly opening the door to retirement. He also said he “didn’t feel well right now” because of knee discomfort.

“I got to talk to my agent, I got to talk to (general manager Al Avila), I got to talk to everybody to see what’s going to be the plan for next year,” Cabrera said, per Evan Petzold of the Detroit Free press. “Right now, we’re focused on today. We’re going to go day-by-day and see what happens. I don’t think about next year right now. I think about trying to finish heathy this year, and we I’ll see.”

Cabrera had a decent early part of the season, hitting .318 and .314 in May and June, respectively, but has faltered since the beginning of July. He slashed .210/.298/.272 in the month and has only notched one hit and one walk in 12 plate appearances in August.

Cabrera’s difficulties at the plate, coupled with his age and injury problems, have prompted manager AJ Hinch to begin looking for opportunities to sit the two-time AL MVP to preserve his health.

The Venezuelan superstar has had his moments this year; he secured career hit No. 3,000 in April, and he was named to the AL All-Star team in the summer by commissioner Rob Manfred. But at 39, he knows his career is approaching its end.

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Cabrera’s prodigious power has seemingly gone away. After averaging 35 dingers per 162 games from 2004-16, he hasn’t cracked 20 jacks in seven seasons.

He still hits the ball hard; Cabrera sits in the 69th percentile in average exit velocity and 74th percentile in max exit velocity, per Baseball Savant. However, he is nowhere near the hitter he once was as he struggles to make consistent contact. Cabrera is below average in chase rate, walk percentage and barrel rate, among other categories.

Regardless, it appears he has one more year left in the tank. And for all of Cabrera’s difficulties in 2022, he is expressing optimism that his 2023 season will be a positive experience.

“Next year is going to go way better,” Cabrera said. “Next year I’m going to be right there.”

Edward Sutelan contributed to this report.

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