Blockbuster Trade Sends D-Train and Miggy to Detroit

by Andrew Stewart on December 4, 2007 @ 15:22:18 PDT


Jon Paul Morosi, of the Detroit Free Press, reports the Detroit Tigers have reportedly agreed to a trade in which they will acquire Florida Marlins third baseman Miguel Cabrera and starting pitcher Dontrelle Willis in exchange for six players, including starting pitcher Andrew Miller, outfielder Cameron Maybin, catcher Mike Rabelo, and pitchers Burke Badenhop, Eulogio De La Cruz and Dallas Trahern.

This trade has sent shockwaves through the baseball community as most assumed Cabrera would be sent to a team in the Los Angeles market. The Tigers, who weren't expected to make much noise in this offseason's winter meetings, proceeded to land one of the best young hitters in the game and a 25-year-old pitcher with 68 career wins notched on his belt.

While the Tigers dipped deep into their farm system with move (trading away whom most considered their top hitting prospect and top pitching prospect) Cabrera should make an instant impact for the team. At 24 years young, Cabrera is already a four-time All-Star and has averaged more than 30 home runs and 110 RBI in his four full seasons at the major-league level.

The only knocks against Cabrera are his spotty defense and questions about his work ethic. Cabrera made 23 errors at third base last season, which tied him for second-worst in the major leagues. One reason for his shaky defense has been his ever-increasing weight: When Cabrera entered the league in 2003, he was listed at 185 pounds. In 2007, Cabrera was reported as weighing as much as 255 pounds. However, this offseason he has worked with a personal trainer and has reportedly lost at least 15 pounds.

Cabrera's move to Detroit should mark a substantial increase in his fantasy value. In Detroit, Cabrera will have plenty of bats to protect him in the lineup, including Silver Slugger Award-winning outfielder Magglio Ordonez, designated hitter Gary Sheffield, shortstop Edgar Renteria, catcher Ivan Rodriguez and first baseman Carlos Guillen. The Tigers averaged 1.140 more home runs per game at home than on the road, and Cabrera might enjoy the change of scenery.

Willis, at one point in his career, was considered to be one of the best young lefthanders in the game, and many in baseball believe he can regain the elite status he once held. Willis's best season came in 2005, when he won 22 games for the Marlins, recorded 170 strikeouts in 236.1 innings and kept his ERA at a miniscule 2.63. In the two seasons since 2005, Willis has tailed off considerably; he went 12-12 with a 3.87 ERA in 2006 and went 10-15 with a 5.17 ERA in 2007. Despite this, Willis has been one of the more sought-after left-handers in the National League for the last few seasons. It remains to be seen whether Willis can thrive in Detroit with a change of scenery, but he has to make a tough transition from the National League to the American League - historically a tough move for most pitchers.

Miller was the Tigers' top draft selection in 2006 and was considered to be the top pitching prospect in their organization. Miller shot through the minor leagues and was first called up in 2006, where he made eight relief appearances and compiled a 6.10 ERA and 1.74 WHIP. Miller returned to the minors to begin the 2007 season, but was called up in May to make an emergency start and remained on the team in June when he was again recalled. In 2007, Miller went 5-5 and compiled 5.63 ERA and 1.75 WHIP, but also struck out 56 batters in 64 innings. Miller is not expected to light the world afire in the 2008 season and doesn't merit a draft pick in most leagues, but should definitely be a player to keep a watchful eye on as the season progresses and a target in keeper leagues.

Maybin was the 10th overall selection in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, and like Miller he shot through the minor leagues with ease. Maybin has been the jewel of the Tigers' farm system for the past three years and is considered by some to be one of the top outfield prospects in baseball. He was called up by the Tigers this past August and finished with a .143 batting average in 49 at-bats. It was speculated that the Tigers would send Maybin back to the minor leagues to begin next season, but the Marlins, desperate for outfield help, may rush him to the big leagues.

The other prospects Florida received as a result of the blockbuster trade have some promise, but are not worth fantasy consideration in 2008. Rabelo, 27, appeared in 51 games for the Tigers last season and hit .256 with one home run and 18 RBI. De La Cruz made a brief stint in the majors last season, recording a pedestrian 6.75 ERA and 2.10 WHIP in 6.2 innings, but impressed scouts with a fastball that touched 100 mph. Trahern pitched with Team USA in the Arizona Fall League this offseason and went 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA in five innings pitched.

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About Andrew Stewart

Andrew Stewart has been a Hot off the Wire Analyst for KFFL since 2007.

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