The Florida Marlins and Detroit Tigers have agreed in principle on a trade that will send
Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to Detroit for key prospects, sources told ESPN's Peter Gammons on Tuesday.
The deal is expected to be announced Tuesday night when the physicals and paperwork are completed.
"It's very serious, but nothing is finalized yet because some
issues need to get worked out," Tigers manager Jim Leyland told
The Associated Press.
Miller was Detroit's top pick in the 2006 draft and went 5-5 in 13 starts after being called up last summer. Maybin was the Tigers' first pick in 2005 and shot through the farm system, hitting .143 in 24 major league games, Rabelo batted .256 in 51 games, and 23-year-old De La Cruz appeared in six games for the Tigers, hitting 100 mph on the radar gun.
Willis was on vacation when he heard the news.
"I'm in Mexico right now with my family. I'm kind of busy," he
told the AP.
Florida didn't even approach the Tigers until Tuesday morning.
The Marlins told the Tigers they could have the two stars for those
six players, then Detroit called back about two hours later and
"If it does happen, obviously they're getting two very good
players," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who managed the
Marlins in 2006. "Miguel Cabrera is one of the finest hitters in
the game. He can do so many things with a bat, whether you want him
to hit a home run for you, you want to hit and run, work the count,
get on base. And Dontrelle Willis has been one of the premier
lefties in the National League."
Detroit had not been considered a contender for Cabrera or
Cabrera would join an imposing lineup that already includes
Magglio Ordonez, Gary Sheffield, Ivan Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson
and Placido Polanco. The Tigers also acquired shortstop
Edgar Renteria, a five-time All-Star, in a trade with Atlanta this
"I'm glad we're in the other division," Boston manager Terry
Francona said. "That lineup just got scary."
Willis, coming off a down year in which he went 10-15 with a
5.17 ERA, will be part of a solid rotation with Justin Verlander,
Kenny Rogers and Jeremy Bonderman as Detroit tries to reach the
World Series for the second time in three seasons.
The Los Angeles Angels had pursued Cabrera for weeks. The
Marlins didn't give the Angels one last chance.
"The deal they appear to have reached, they felt was a better
fit for them," Angels general manager Tony Reagins told a pool
Cabrera and Willis were the last players left from Florida's
2003 championship team. Unable to secure a new ballpark, the
Marlins keep shedding players when they are due to earn huge
salaries. Cabrera made $7.4 million this year and Willis $6.45
million. Both were eligible for arbitration and likely to receive
"It was kind of like, wow, when I heard. I halfway expected one
of them to get traded, but not both in the same deal. So it's a
little bit of a shock," Marlins left fielder Josh Willingham said.
"It's deflating because they're great teammates and good
friends. It's going to be hard not seeing them around. I know we
got some good players in the deal, but Miguel and Dontrelle are
proven big league players, and it's going to be tough to fill those
roles. Miguel brings you more than 100 RBIs, 30 home runs and a
.300 batting average, and while Dontrelle had a disappointing year
last year, he's a workhorse. He's going to eat up 200 innings and
he's always healthy. It will be tough to replace those guys."
Questions about Cabrera's conditioning came up as he was shopped this offseason, but he has apparently been working out.
"He looks good," said Los Angeles Angels catcher Mike Napoli, who has been training with Cabrera for the last three weeks, according to the Los Angeles Times. "He's starting to slim down, and he's getting real strong."
Cabrera, who is a four-time All-Star, hit .320 with 34 home runs and 119 RBIs last season for the Marlins. He has a career .313 batting average over five seasons with the Marlins, as well as a career .542 slugging percentage.
But Cabrera, who was listed at 185 pounds when he was called up to the majors in 2003, played 2007 at about 255 pounds and made an NL-high 23 errors at third.
Trainer Sean O'Brien, who has been working with Cabrera, didn't say how much weight he has lost. "But he's changing his body composition," O'Brien said, according to the Times. "He's leaner. He's combining weight loss with an increase in muscle mass."
"I told the Marlins he's going to be in the best shape you've ever seen him in," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said, according to the Times. "Whoever gets this guy is going to have a heck of a ballplayer with a different mentality. He's a big man and he has to take care of himself. ... He has the power and talent to be one of the best players ever."
Willis has been an All-Star twice in his five-year career. The 2003 Rookie of the Year had his second year in a row with declining numbers. In 2005 the left-hander was 22-10 with a 2.63 ERA and was second in Cy Young balloting.
Willis started this past season 5-1 in April and 2-2 in May, but he went 1-11 over June, July and August.
Peter Gammons is a baseball analyst for ESPN. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.