Tigers and Marlins Involved in Blockbuster Trade

Santana, step aside. The first major deal of the Winter Meetings doesn’t revolve around pinstripes or any kind of Sox. Instead, it’s the Detroit Tigers and Florida Marlins making a huge eight player trade. The Tigers have acquired Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis from the Marlins in exchange for six prospects (Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller, Mike Rabelo and Minor Leaguers Dallas Trahern, Eulogio De La Cruz, and Burke Badenhop).

The Tigers are clearly giving up a lot of future talent. But this is now going to be a freakishly loaded Tigers team. Red Sox and Yankees beware of 2008.

Yankees GM Brian Cashman was trying to be calm, but you can sense the panic in his voice: “The Tigers are a very aggressive organization and they’re very astute. Dave Dombrowski is as good as they come. They’re going to put forth a great team, which they’ve done since they’ve gotten there. He’s put them in championship caliber form and they’ve become a team that sets the tone.” Now it’s up to the Yankees to do something big. And early indications are that the Yankees are done with trying to acquire Santana.

Red Sox Manager Terry Francona was a bit more blunt: “I’ll tell you what. There are a lot of American League pitchers getting real nervous — and we’re one of them.”

But back to the deal. All that remains now is for the Tigers and the Marlins to review medical records and finalize the minute details on the swap. No contract extensions are expected to be included on Willis and Cabrera, both of whom have two more seasons remaining before they become eligible for free agency.

Let’s explore this trade for a minute. Sure, the Tigers are giving up a lot of prospects. But this is a team that wants to do something in the very near future. Not ten years from now. Through this trade, they are going to be major competitors in the AL Central in 2008, if not the AL and all of MLB.

Willis and Cabrera and both young, at 25 and 24, respectively. They can certainly steer the Tigers to the World Series. The Tigers will now have an absolutely loaded lineup, and it’s projected to look like so:

CF Curtis Granderson
2B Placido Polanco
3B Miguel Cabrera
RF Magglio Ordonez
DH Gary Sheffield
C Ivan Rodriguez
1B Carlos Guillen
SS Edgar Renteria
LF Jacque Jones/Marcus Thames

The center of this trade is, of course, Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera batted 0.320 in 2007, with career highs of 34 home runs and 119 RBIs in a Marlins lineup that didn’t have a whole lot of support around him. Cabrera has batted 0.328 over his last three seasons.

Cabrera now joins a Detroit lineup that already boasts All-Stars Placido Polanco, Gary Sheffield, Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Guillen and Edgar Renteria around the middle of the order, as well as flourishing hitter Curtis Granderson at the top. This is a lineup that can collectively bat above 0.300 for the season, which – if you play fantasy baseball – is absolutely ridiculous. This is a lineup that will put up huge numbers in all major statistical categories – home runs, runs scored, RBIs, and batting average. Pretty scary. This is a Detroit lineup that scored almost 900 runs in 2007 with Sheffield injured for some time. Imagine what their 2008 lineup will do.

Now let’s talk about Dontrelle Willis. He is a two-time All-Star who has won 68 games over five years in the big leagues, including 22 in 2005. He struggled in 2007 with a 10-15 record and 5.17 ERA, including a 3-8 record and 5.74 ERA after the All-Star Game.

The Tigers believe that Willis’ numbers in 2007 were the exception rather than an emerging trend. In 2006, Willis was 12-12, but his ERA that year was a reasonable 3.87. Willis certainly had the right attitude about the trade, saying, “Like I said the whole time it’s all a business. I mean, I have been on the trading block for kind of a world record for the last three years. They found a deal suitable for both sides, so I’m happy to go over there and try to do my thing.”

Coming to Detroit, Willis also doesn’t have the added pressure of being considered the ace. He joins a rotation that consists of Justin Verlander, Kenny Rogers, Jeremy Bonderman, and Nate Robertson. Not sure where Willis will start in the rotation; no matter, because these pitchers are going to get a hell of a lot of run support from a stacked lineup.

What about Detroit? Did they give up a lot? It depends on how you look at it. Sure, Cameron Maybin has been rated as a #3 in ESPN’s prospect list, and he is considered to be the number one prospect by some analysts/insiders. He reached the majors in August 2007 at a ripe age of 20 after batting 0.316 with 14 home runs, 53 RBIs, and 25 SB at three minor league levels. But the Tigers have every intention of winning today (all right, starting in 2008), and not some time in the future. So putting this in perspective, I think Detroit fans should be pretty giddy right about now.

Other players that the Tigers are giving up include Andrew Miller and Eulogio De La Cruz. Miller was the Tigers’ first-round selection in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft; he was expected to compete for the final spot in the rotation in just his second full pro season. Miller finished the 2007 season with a 5-5 record and a 5.63 ERA. As far as De La Cruz goes, he had a brief callup last summer to help Detroit’s depleted bullpen, but most of his success came at Erie and Triple-A Toledo, where he went 7-5 between the two levels with an ERA under 3.50 while being able to throw a fastball near the 100 mph range.

It’s also interesting to note about the Marlins’ payroll in 2008. “What’s their payroll going to be?” one baseball man wondered Tuesday night. “Six million bucks? Eight million?” According to ESPN, the Marlins’ highest-paid player next season is going to be closer Kevin Gregg. He made $575,000 this year (less than the Yankees paid A-Rod every four days, which is insane). One thing is certain: the average salary of a Marlin next year will be less than $500,000.

By giving up Cabrera and Willis, one is hard pressed to pick out a franchise name from that team. I can think of two: Dan Uggla and Hanley Ramirez. That’s pretty much it. And what are the Marlins going to do now in terms of trying to get a new stadium for their team? For what players?

Clearly, the Tigers are now roaring more loudly than ever. On the other hand, it’s only fitting that the Marlins play in the southernmost MLB city in the majors, as this “blockbuster” deal further sends the Marlins into major league oblivion.

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~ by mlb2007playoffs on December 5, 2007.

2 Responses to “Tigers and Marlins Involved in Blockbuster Trade”

  1. […] Prospects – Overview Today, the Detroit Tigers and the Florida Marlins finalized their mega-blockbuster trade. The Tigers receive Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis from the Marlins, while the Marlins receive […]

  2. […] Willis, and Jeremy Bonderman are smooth sailing all the way through 2010. Lest we not forget the blockbuster deal that went through earlier in the offseason, it appears that the Tigers are well on their way to success in the 2008 regular season (at least […]

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