The original Miguel Cabrera trade that brought him to the Detroit Tigers was as one-sided as it gets.
For the last decade and a half, Miguel Cabrera has been a member of the Detroit Tigers. It’s hard to picture the team without him and it’s difficult for many younger fans to imagine him wearing another major league team’s cap.
However, this four-time batting champion and Triple Crown winner didn’t always represent the Motor City. Originally an amateur free agent signing by the Florida Marlins, his career took a major turn after five seasons with the Fish.
It was on December 4, 2007, when the Tigers made a blockbuster trade with the Marlins. The headliner of the deal was Miguel Cabrera.
Revisiting the trade that brought Miguel Cabrera to the Tigers
Those early days with the Marlins were already spectacular for Miguel Cabrera. Things couldn’t have ended better for him in his rookie season. As a member of the Marlins in 2003, he helped take down the New York Yankees in the World Series. The start of a Hall of Fame career already included a championship ring.
Cabrera would only get better. He became a 30 home run, 100 RBI, and .300 batting average guy for the Marlins. After his fourth straight All-Star selection in 2007, the time came for the Marlins to tear it all down. They cut a deal with the Tigers with this young superstar at the center of the deal.
Along with Cabrera, Dontrelle Willis headed to Detroit. As great as Cabrera was for the Marlins, Willis was arguably the more nationally known player. His funky delivery, fun personality, and fantastic pitching performances through the early part of his career made him a guy fans across the league were familiar with.
A rough 2007 season made him a curious addition to this trade. Willis went from being the runner-up Cy Young winner in 2005 with 22 wins to a guy who led the league with 118 earned runs in 2007. Only a little older than Cabrera at the time of the deal, Detroit was hoping to get two young stars. Cabrera was showing no signs of fading while Willis had an opportunity to turn things around.
Willis never did find success again in the big leagues. Cabrera only got better.
The Tigers didn’t give up much in exchange for Miguel Cabrera
Trades like this in MLB history are usually one-sided unless one of the players getting swapped for the superstar turns out to be something pretty special. The Marlins didn’t end up with much.
Burke Badenhop, Frankie De La Cruz, Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller, Mike Rabelo, and lifelong minor leaguer Dallas Trahern were the players Florida received from the Tigers.
Badenhop gave the Marlins four seasons and 250.2 innings mostly in relief. His 4.34 ERA with the club hardly adds to the value of the trade. De La Cruz would only pitch 9 innings for the team and deliver an 18.00 ERA. Rabelo hit .202/.256/.294 in his 122 plate appearances in the 2008 season. He’d never see major league action again.
Maybin and Miller were the only two to have long and successful major league careers. However, their best days weren’t with the Marlins. In his first stint with the Marlins, Maybin batted .257/.323/.391 in 557 trips to the plate spread across three seasons. Long before he became a late-inning specialist, Miller was a struggling start/reliever who would go 10-20 for them with a 5.89 ERA in 220 innings of work.
It was apparent very quickly that the Tigers were correct in selling the farm for Miguel Cabrera. He was the 2008 American League home run champion. His 127 RBI for the Tigers set a new career-high.
Over 350 home runs and over 2,000 hits would follow from his bat as a member of the Tigers. He’ll go into the Hall of Fame as only the seventh player in major league history to have 3,000 total hits and 500 home runs. Only Hank Aaron, Albert Pujols, Willie Mays, Eddie Murray, Alex Rodriguez, and Rafael Palmeiro have accomplish this feat.
As far as great Tigers trades go, this ranks up there as one of the best. It brought them one of the greats of the game, Miguel Cabrera.