The Tigers have pulled off a franchise altering trade today sending former first round picks Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller, along with Mike Rabelo and 3 minor league pitchers to the Florida Marlins for Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis.
When Dave Dombrowski decides to go for it, boy does he go for it. Like in 1997 when he loaded up for a run at the World Series, Dombrowski has quickly put together what has to be considered the best line up in all of baseball. To do it they had to give up 2 of the blue-est of blue chippers. Normally I frown on such a move, but rarely do you get in return a 24 year old with 138 career home runs and a 313/388/542 line in 2700 at-bats either. The Tigers had to have emptied their farm system, but this isn’t for a player on the wrong side of 30. This is someone who has yet to enter his peak. The Tigers have to sign him to a long term deal for this to work, but I can’t imagine they make this trade without some sort of frame work in place.
As for Dontrelle Willis, his 5+ ERA in a pitchers park in the NL is certainly disconcerting. But the Tigers were giving up a player that was likely to be in their rotation next year, and they had to fill that spot and there are certainly worse ways to do it than with Willis.
The Tigers gave up some seriously talented players, but if you’re going to do it, do it the way the Tigers did and get a couple guys in their mid 20′s in return. Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller are tremendous prospects, but Cabrera is a rare, rare player and for the Tigers to acquire him is a major coup.
As for the other 3 pitchers, Jon Paul Morosi is reporting that they are Burke Badenhop, Dallas Trahern, and Eulogio De La Cruz. Trahern is the prize of this group. He’s a heavy groundball pitcher who was set to pitch for AAA Toledo this year, and was a decent bet to reach the majors in 2008. De La Cruz we saw last year, and he has the potential and stuff to strike out a ton of guys, but he’s still searching for consistency.
The Tigers still have Rick Porcello, who couldn’t be traded yet, and is now the clear top prospect in the system. I’m also pleasantly surprised the Tigers didn’t have to move Jeff Larish, Mike Hollimon, and especially James Skelton.
As for what happens next, the Tigers just have to sign Cabrera long term. They also have some of their own players to move. Cabrera is thought of as a third baseman, but he could play left as well. I don’t know where he’ll play for Detroit and it depends on who they can get for Brandon Inge probably. I know that the Tigers just traded for Jacque Jones, but I don’t think they are married to him.
I applaud Dombrowski and the Tigers for pulling this off. The Tigers have the pieces in place to be a very very special team this year and I can’t wait for spring training. I’ll have more on the trade over the next couple of days.