The Detroit News' John Niyo and Chris McCosky discuss the 2018 Tigers. Detroit News
A day before Detroit Tigers' spring training officially gets under way in Lakeland, Fla., later this month, Miguel Cabrera will be 55 miles away, pleading his case in an Orlando courtroom as his ex-mistress requests additional child support for their two children.
On Feb. 12, Cabrera is expected to be in attendance for a temporary-relief hearing, during which a judge is expected to rule if Belkis Mariela Rodriguez should receive more than the monthly payments she's already been receiving while the lawsuit, filed in August, continues to drag on, with no end in sight.
The sides have been in mediation since October, to no avail, and with the season fast approaching, it's quite possible a final resolution in the matter could be months out.
Rodriguez, the mother of two young children Cabrera isn't contesting are his, has been receiving payments in excess of $12,000 per month for several months. Early last year, Cabrera also helped Rodriguez purchase a nearly $1-million Spanish colonial home in a swanky Orlando neighborhood, overlooking a golf course.
Rodriguez, however, is claiming she's entitled to more, arguing through her attorney that Cabrera should be paying her a similar amount to what he spends on the three children he has with his wife, Rosangel.
Lawyers for both parties on Friday were back in court for the first time in 2018, as Rodriguez's lawyer, in a 100-plus-page filing, requested steep financial disclosures – including specifics on what Cabrera spends on his other children for things such as tuition, entertainment, etc. A lawyer for Rodriguez has said in court filings her children "should be entitled to share in the same good fortune" as Cabrera's other three children. A judge ordered Cabrera only to disclose multiple years of tax returns.
Cabrera's lawyers also requested Rodriguez's financial records be disclosed. She owns a small flower shop in Orlando, and claims she makes less than $2,000 a month. The sides were in court for more than two hours Friday, with the judge only ruling on Cabrera's financial documents.
Cabrera's lawyer, Benjamin Hodus, declined to comment on the proceedings Friday. Rodriguez's lawyer, Terry Young, has repeatedly declined to comment since The Detroit News broke the story of the court proceedings in October, shortly after Cabrera completed the worst season, statistically, of his potentially Hall-of-Fame career.
It's unclear how Cabrera and Rodriguez met or when, though on social media, she "checked in" multiple times at ballparks in 2014 and 2015, coinciding with road trips the Tigers were on at that time.
Things started to turn ugly this past summer, though, when Rodriguez filed the lawsuit, claiming Cabrera had "unilaterally" reduced her financial support, leaving her forced to borrow from friends and family.
According to Florida law, the child-support guideline for someone earning more than $10,000 a month is 7.5 percent of net income for two children. Cabrera, the Tigers superstar first baseman and two-time Most Valuable Player, earns more than $30 million a year, in salary and endorsements, as one of the richest athletes on the planet. Cabrera will continue to earn as much or more through at least 2023 as part of an eight-year contract extension he signed with the Tigers prior to the 2014 season.
Under those calculations, Cabrera could be forced to pay Rodriguez more than $100,000 a month. But Cabrera's lawyers are arguing the state statute wasn't designed for someone of such extraordinary means, and have argued Rodriguez is trying to "extort" Cabrera for "alimony"-like support.
Cabrera previously had interaction and spent time with the two children fathered with Rodriguez, but he hasn't seen them since the lawsuit was filed.
Rosangel Cabrera, who married Miguel in Venezuela in June 2002, filed for divorce shortly before the start of the 2017 season, but changed her mind and later withdrew the filing.
Cabrera, 34, hasn't commented on the lawsuit since it first made headlines in October, and he was absent from the Tigers caravan and TigerFest last month as he tended to a family health emergency, according to the team.
Tigers general manager Al Avila has declined comment on Cabrera's off-field issues, saying only that he expects Cabrera to be completely healthy when he arrives at spring training, after dealing with herniated discs in his back for the entire 2017 season.
Tigers pitchers and catchers are to report to Lakeland on Feb. 13, the day after the temporary-relief hearing. Position players, such as Cabrera, are due by Feb. 18, with the first full-squad workout Feb. 19.