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:
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:
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.