TigsTown News: Tigers Land Cabrera/Willis

Just when many people thought the Tigers lineup was set heading into the 2008 season, General Manager Dave Dombrowski and crew pulled the trigger on a monster deal to bring Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to Detroit.

The eight-player deal is no doubt a monster on just the second day of the annual winter meetings in Nashville, Tennessee. In exchange for Cabrera and Willis, the Tigers will be giving up top prospects Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller, along with catcher Mike Rabelo, and right-handers Burke Badenhop, Eulogio de la Cruz, and Dallas Trahern.

The acquisition of Cabrera means the Tigers have acquired either their new third baseman or left fielder for next season. There have been concerns over his defense at the hot corner in the past, but given his offensive production the Tigers may be willing to tolerate a defensive downgrade from incumbent Brandon Inge. Cabrera is widely heralded as one of the game's premier young hitters (career .313/.388/.542 line in 4-1/2 seasons), capable of carrying his team on his back for long stretches.

The 2003 Rookie of the Year, Dontrelle Willis is coming off his worst season as a pro, but given his youth, there is reason to believe he may be able to bounce back to his prior form as one of the top young lefties in the game. In 205-1/3 innings in 2007, Willis managed a 10-15 record and 5.17 ERA.

The departure of Cameron Maybin is the most shocking from the Tigers standpoint, as many believed he was one of the few untouchables in the organization. Maybin was easily the organization's top prospect, and likely one of the top five prospects in all of baseball. He has every tool imaginable and the incredible makeup to take advantage of his supreme talent.

Left-hander Andrew Miller is also extremely talented, and had he been eligible for TigsTown's Top 50 prospect rankings, he likely would have slotted in directly behind Maybin. With mid-90s heat and a killer slider, Miller's potential is through the roof. Despite struggles in his first full professional season, scouts still see a bright future for Miller.

Also leaving the organization will be right-handers Burke Badenhop (17th in TigsTown's Top 50), Eulogio de la Cruz (8th), and Dallas Trahern (5th). All three pitchers are coming off strong seasons in which they established themselves as legitimate contenders for Major League jobs within the next 12-18 months. De la Cruz is the only one of the three to have appeared in a Major League game.

The last piece to the deal is backup catcher Mike Rabelo. After an injury to incumbent Vance Wilson, Rabelo stepped in and performed admirably in his first taste of big league ball.

The deal makes a statement to the rest of the league that the Tigers are ready to get back to the World Series in 2008, and they are willing to sacrifice elite prospects to make sure it happens. Check back with TigsTown.com for updates on this deal, the potential for additional deals, and thoughts from those involved.


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