Apparently the ever active Detroit Tigers have landed Florida Marlins third baseman Miguel Cabrera and starting pitcher Dontrelle Willis for six minor leaguers - including pitcher Andrew Miller, outfielder Cameron Maybin, catcher Mike Rabelo, and pitchers Burke Badenhop, Eulogio de la Cruz, and Dallas Trahern.
First off let me say the Tigers got the best player in the deal, obviously, Cabrera is a top 10 talent in the league, probably top five. Last year Cabrera posted a 71.4 VORP, which was actually down from his 2006's 78.7. He's apparently been getting into shape - ending the theory that he'd continue growing like the giant marshmallow man from Ghostbusters - and is still two seasons away from free agency. Last year in a pitcher's park he hit .320/.401/.565, and if you believe in lineup protection he'll now have the likes of Gary Sheffield and Magglio Ordonez around him.
Cabrera's simply going to be incredible next year, I don't like to make wild guesses about awards this far in advance, but he very well could be your 2008 American League Most Valuable Player, he was all ready special, this is just going to take him to the next level as baseball's superstar.
Willis' 2007 was nasty, in fact his hitter's VORP of 14.7 was far superior to his 0.7 VORP for pitching, far cries from 2006 when he had a 40.5 VORP or 2005's 65.2 VORP. His ERA hit 5.17 last year, and for the third straight year his innings dropped, hits raised, runs raised, homeruns raised, walks raised, strikeouts dropped, and ERA as well as WHIP also shot up. In other words; despite only being 25 Willis' star seems to be in danger of fading from baseball phenomenon and superstar to back of the end rotation arm. You have to wonder how much all that abuse put on his arm by Joe Girardi plays into the downward trend, if any, it doesn't appear to be a luck factor either - his BABIP was .329, not too above his career averages, and below his xBABIP of .334.
As for the Marlins, it always seems like they're making these types of trades, but this one is certainly a bit of a shock, adding three of the Tigers 10 best prospects certainly will bolster a decent system as it is.
Miller should have a better season than Dontrelle next year; he'll be heading to a pitcher's ballpark in a pitcher's league, sure he posted a 5.34 ERA last year, but his BABIP was .343, nearly .020 points higher than his xBABIP. There's concern about Miller's pitch selection and third pitch, but he's still very young, a rotation with Miller, Anibal Sanchez, Ricky Nolasco, Scott Olsen, and Rick Vanden Hurk is pretty nice looking, that's without mentioning Josh Johnson. Miller was the sixth overall pick in 2006's draft class and was passed over in part due to signability concerns.
Maybin is a man child, and the fourth highly touted offensive prospect moved in the past two weeks. In limited major league action he looked bad last season, but it was only 49 at-bats. The Marlins have been looking for a centerfielder since dealing Juan Pierre to the Cubs a couple of off-seasons ago, this seems to be the answer for a while - or at least until he reaches arbitration. Maybin's a National League Rookie of the Year candidate for sure, assuming he starts in the majors he'll fight Reds' outfielder Jay Bruce for the award all season, I can't see the Marlins storing him with Isotopes.
Rabelo is a product of the University of Tampa and in 168 at-bats last year hit .256/.300/.357, not great, but it probably allows Florida to dump Miguel Olivo or perhaps stop pursuing Michael Barrett. He's 27 and I think his career ceiling will be around Barrett's current ability level, something like .270/.330/.400
Cruz made a few appearances for the Tigers last year and could start in the Marlins bullpen this year, same with Trahern, although he'll probably head out to Albuquerque, and Badenhop will start in AA, but the Marlins all the sudden have even more young pitching, as we saw with their state counterpart on this market it's easier to acquire young hitting than young pitching; certainly the Marlins believe that to be true as well.
At the end of the day the Tigers gave up five players who could have major league impact next year for two, one really, really good player, and one who is collapsing. It'll be interesting to see if Miller can't out duel Willis' next year, but suggesting Maybin to come close to Cabrera's numbers are like expecting the 2008 election winner to replace George Washington on the one-dollar bill, it's simply not happening.