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Miguel Cabrera, Mike Stanton, and fake mega-trades

How many of the six players the Marlins received from the Tigers for Miguel Cabrera do you remember? What if we tried to replicate that deal with the Twins and another young, incredible hitter?

Rob Foldy

In December of 2007, the Tigers and the Marlins made one hell of a trade. The Tigers received 24-year old Miguel Cabrera, a .313/.388/.542 hitter in parts of five seasons, as well as Dontrelle Willis, a 25-year old left-handed pitcher whose performance had nose-dived and would be a heavy salary for Florida going forward.

Who did Detroit end up sending back to the Marlins - can you remember more than one name? As it turns out, the Marlins didn't get much. In alphabetical order:

  • Burke Badenhop: a 24-year old right-hander and fifth-round draft pick in 2005. Had sub-3.00 ERAs in his three years in Detroit's system as a starter, but had just 18.2 innings of experience above A-ball. At that point he'd struck out just 269 batters in 402 innings. He'd end up giving the Marlins five seasons of mediocre relief, and finished 2014 with an okay year for Boston.
  • Frankie De La Cruz: a 23-year old right-hander who had thrown 6.2 innings of relief for the Tigers in '07, but also a pitcher who had averaged more than eight strikeouts per nine innings in the minor leagues as a starter. Command was an issue, though, as his strikeout-to-walk ratio was barely 2-to-1. De La Cruz made one start and five relief appearances for Florida in 2008. He never really caught on anywhere else and spent 2014 in the Mexican League.
  • Cameron Maybin: the prize of the group, Maybin was a 20-year old outfielder who struggled in 53 plate appearances for the Tigers in '07 but was considered one of the game's ten best prospects. The tenth overall pick in 2005 had hit .304/.387/.457 in '06 and .316/.409/.523 in '07 in the minors. But he was a bust for the Marlins, hitting .257/.323/.391 in parts of three seasons before being traded to San Diego.
  • Andrew Miller: a 22-year old left-handed starter at the time, he'd spent parts of two seasons with the Tigers getting beaten up. He was Detroit's first-round pick in '06 though, number six overall, and was one of the game's top fifteen or twenty prospects going into 2007. But the Tigers may have been too aggressive with him, and for the Marlins he shifted between the rotation and the bullpen for three seasons. Like Maybin he was also traded after the 2010 season, but he blossomed into a blow-em-away reliever for the Red Sox.
  • Mike Rabelo: almost 28 years old when he was traded, he was a catcher with just 52 Major League games under his belt. He was a non-prospect and a middling Major League player if we're being generous, and he played just one season with the Marlins before fading away in the minors two years later.
  • Dallas Trahern: a right-handed pitcher who had just turned 22 and who had posted sub-4.00 ERAs in the Tigers' system. But, like Badenhop, his peripherals were uninspiring with dangerously low strikeout rates - even for the minor leagues - and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of less than 2-to-1. He washed out in 2011, never having made a Major League roster.
Essentially, Miami ended up with a whole lot of nothing in return for one of our generation's greatest hitters - other than jettisoning Willis in a salary dump. That is, unless you want to give them credit for a couple hundred innings of relief that they got in Edward Mugica and Ryan Webb when they dealt Maybin to the Padres.

Photo credit: Rob Carr

Ignoring that the Tigers will regret sooner rather than later the fact that they're now paying Cabrera an average of $31 million through his age-40 season in 2022, this trade was an absolute abomination on one end and a ridiculously advantageous coup on the other. Just for fun...could we find a way for that to happen now? For the Twins?

Let's stick with the Marlins since, like Cabrera, they once again have a 24-year old slugger that they've been rumored to be willing to trade. I don't think they will actually make a trade this time, but this is just a thought experiment anyway.

So...can we find comparable prospects to the above that would, in our theoretical world, net us Giancarlo Stanton? Here's my attempt.
  • Taylor Rogers (for Badenhop) - 23-year old lefty selected in the 11th round of the 2012 draft. Better ERA than peripherals, but looks to be in range of the back end of the organization's top ten prospects.
  • Adrian Salcedo (for De La Cruz) - 23-year old righty, sometimes-starter. De La Cruz was a more exciting pitcher, but Salcedo is probably the better one.
  • Byron Buxton (for Maybin) - both were toolsy prep selections who hit very well in the low minors. Buxton, at 21, certainly looks miles better than Maybin, but then again we already know that Maybin was a bust. Hopefully Buxton's future takes a different path, but there's no other player to put here.
  • Tyler Duffey (for Miller) - another 23-year old righty, Duffey was a fifth rounder in 2012 who has pitched very well as a starter. He's moved more slowly than Miller and may not have Miller's upside, but we're adjusting for a couple of inclusions on this list that were already better than what Detroit sent to Florida.
  • Eric Fryer or Chris Herrmann (for Rabelo) - a non-prospect who could catch and has some experience doing so at the Major League level.
  • Sean Gilmartin (for Trahern) - a 24-year old pitcher who looks close to the Major Leagues, with uninspiring peripherals.
How does that six-some work? If we want to take on a salary, the only ones on the books for the Marlins next year are Jarrod Saltalamacchia ($7 million in 2014, $8 million in 2015), Garrett Jones ($5 million), and Jeff Baker ($2.1 million). Shall we just take on Saltalamacchia, since he'd fit a need for the Twins anyway?

Considering what the Marlins originally grabbed for Cabrera, who was a better hitter than Stanton (.271/.364/.540) at the same age, is that list fair? It's worth noting that Maybin, Miller, De La Cruz, and Trahern were Detroit's number 1, 2, 6 and 8 prospects coming out of 2007 according to Baseball America, and at first blush that's more impressive than our offer above. Still, the strength of the farm system is an important element to remember, and in our offer the Marlins would be receiving the consensus number one prospect in baseball. That's going to off-set for something.

In summary: the Twins acquire Giancarlo Stanton and Jarrod Saltalamacchia in return for Byron Buxton, Taylor Rogers, Adrian Salcedo, Tyler Duffey, Eric Fryer/Chris Herrmann, and Sean Gilmartin. Essentially: Minnesota's number one prospect, one borderline top ten in Rogers, two more pitchers who could fall between the 10 and 20 range, plus a catcher and a quadruple-A pitcher in his mid-20s.

This is probably the initiator to a few separate conversations.
  1. Is this enough to make the Marlins consider such a deal, and if it is would you pull the trigger?
  2. If it's not enough, what kind of package would you think the Twins would need to piece together to net a hitter like Stanton?
  3. Is any cost likely to be too prohibitive?
The Twins aren't going to trade for Giancarlo Stanton. Anyone who does, if the Marlins are indeed going to embrace the idea, will need to take into consideration the eventual $30 million per season that Stanton will earn. So, no - as tempting as it is in some aspects, let's not actually pretend that this could happen. Considering what happened with Cabrera, it's very likely that Miami would be looking for a return with higher guarantees; quality instead of quantity, if you will.

But in our world, in our own little thought experiment - what would it take? Are Buxton, Rogers, Salcedo, Duffey, Fryer/Herrmann, and Gilmartin enough?