It's a fun debate, really, just where Miguel Cabrera ranks among the greatest hitters in Tigers history.

Alex Avila can't say for sure.

But he offered this.

"He's one of those guys," said the Tigers catcher, "where you're retiring his number on the wall and making a statue.

That could depend, however, whether Cabrera finishes his career with the Tigers.

Interestingly, general manager Dave Dombrowski said recently that's a distinct possibility.

"I think it's a realistic situation," Dombrowski said last week. "We love what he does on the field, and what he does for the club off the field."

Cabrera, 29, is under contract three more seasons for a total of $65 million.

That means he's set to hit the free-agent market in his prime, and as arguably the best hitter in the game. So he's probably staring at one more massive contract, perhaps worth more than the $254 million deal Albert Pujols got from the Angels last winter.

And it won't really be clear for a while whether the Tigers will be able to afford such a contract.

The situation will depend on the financial state of the Tigers — who already have committed long-term big bucks to Prince Fielder and Anibal Sanchez, and soon have decisions to make on stud starting pitchers Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer — and whether Mike Ilitch, 83, still is calling the shots when Cabrera and his agent are ready to talk.

Ilitch, of course, isn't shy about spending big to stockpile stars — while most owners dealing with a mid-market and a modest television contract and ticket prices wouldn't do that.

From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20121218/SPORTS0104/212180445#ixzz2FVQzPDzQ