Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Blockbuster: Tigers acquire Cabrera, Willis from Marlins

The Tigers have acquired Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis from the Florida Marlins today in one of the biggest trades in the history of the franchise. Going back to the Marlins are top prospects outfielder Cameron Maybin and left-handed pitcher Andrew Miller along with 4 other players - catcher Mike Rabelo and pitchers Eulogio DeLaCruz, Burke Badenhop and Dallas Trahern. Cabrera is one of the best hitters of the game and is just 24 years old. The third baseman has an awesome lifetime line of .313/.388/.542 in 5 major league seasons. Dontrelle Willis had a poor year last year compiling a 5.17 ERA in 205 1/3 innings. He has been very effective in the past though and has a lifetime ERA of 3.78.

Both Cabrera and Willis can become free agents after the 2009 season. The next order of business is to get Cabrera signed to an extension. If they can do that (and it's hard to imagine Dave Dombrowski making this deal if he didn't expect to sign Cabrera long term) then I will consider this a great great trade for the Tigers. Whether or not they try to extend Willis will likely depend on whether he bounces back from last year's sub-par performance.

As difficult as it is to see Miller and Maybin go, it is not too often you get a chance to acquire an elite hitter like Cabrera. Badenhop DeLaCruz and Trahern are also decent prospects but in a trade of this magnitude they are almost throw ins. The Tigers signaled in their earlier trade of top prospects Gorkys Hernadez and Jair Jurrjens for Edgar Renteria that they were going for it all in 2008 and this deal confirms it emphatically.

They now have arguably the best line-up in baseball. It could go something like this:

Granderson cf
Polanco 2b
Cabrera 3b
Ordonez rf
Sheffield dh
Guillen 1b
renteria ss
Rodriguez c
Jones lf

That is quite an imposing line-up; maybe their best ever although their Hank Greenberg, Charlie Gehringer, etc. teams of the 1930s were not too bad either. Their staff still has question marks but a strong offense should definitely make their jobs easier. The staff looks like this:

Verlander
Bonderman
Rogers
Robertson
Willis

If Bonderman and Willis bounce back and Rogers is healthy, that will be a solid staff. Those are big ifs but I think today's move makes them the favorite to win the AL Central and also make them quite competitive with any team in the league including the Red Sox, Yankees and Angels.

10 comments:

  1. John Paul Morosi at the Freep is reporting that the package is Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller, Mike Rabelo, Burke Badenhop, Eulogio dela Cruz, and Dallas Trahern.

    That pretty much cleans out the farm system, but wow, we just got a 24 year old who's top 10 baseball reference comparables include Hank Aaron, Ken Griffey Jr, Frank Robinson, Mickey Mantle, and Al Kaline.

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  2. Thanks for the update Matt. There are not too many players for which I'd sell the farm but Cabrera is one of them.

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  3. The Tigers got the best young hitter in baseball and a guy who could easily turn in 200+ league average (or better) innings for basically nothing from the major league roster. Losing M&M hurts, but this trade makes this team better now and 5 years from now, and maybe even 10 years from now. And the other guys are basically interchangable parts who could very easily be replaced with a good draft next June (or they could even be replaced by the guys taken in last June's draft).

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  4. Not to mention that, as Morosi also mentions, the Tigers are now willing to move Durbin, Inge and Thames. They could get some prospects to restock the system. Inge would likely bring back at least one decent prospect.

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  5. I agree that they didn't give up anything huge beyond Maybin and Miller. The next order of business is to get Cabrera signed to an extension. If they get him signed (and I believe they will eventually) this is a great trade for the tigers.

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  6. Chuck HildebrandtDecember 04, 2007

    How much you wanna bet that four years from now, we get Maybin and/or Miller back when Loria has another fire sale in advance of their big paydays.

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  7. Even Jim Campbell must be smiling down on Dombrowski...seriously now the weak bat at 3B is no longer an issue. If Kenny can stay healthy all systems are go. To me it appeared like Miller and Maybin are still a couple of years off. I thought though that Rabelo was a very good back-up catcher. Any ideas who will serve that role?

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  8. Mike, That's a good question about backup catcher. I don't think Vance Wilson is going to be ready by opening day. I don't think anybody in their system is ready to step in. I would guess that they'll sign some kind of light hitting defensive specialist before the season starts.

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  9. I feel strongly that Inge would be the best defensive option at third, but that isn't going to happen. The Tigers will have an extremely strong offensive infield, but their defense is a little worrisome right now.

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  10. Dave, There is no question the trade hurts their defense. Inge at third and Cabrera in left might be a better option. I think they are worried about Cabrera's ability to move around the big left field. Plus, Jones gives them another left-handed bat. I think I'm with you on this but I can see both sides.

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