Tigers Beef Up Roster

By: AP
By: AP

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The Detroit Tigers reached a preliminary agreement Tuesday to acquire All-Stars Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis from the Florida Marlins for a package of six players, an unexpected blockbuster trade that developed quickly at the winter meetings.
In a huge deal that took the spotlight away from Boston's pursuit of Johan Santana, Florida gets lefty Andrew Miller, outfielder Cameron Maybin and four other prospects from the Tigers, a baseball official with knowledge of the talks said on condition of anonymity because the trade had not yet been finalized.
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 Associated Press.
The Marlins also receive catcher Mike Rabelo and right-handers Burke Badenhop, Eulogio De La Cruz and Dallas Trahern. The players involved must pass physicals for the deal to be completed.
"It's very serious, but nothing is finalized yet because some issues need to get worked out," Tigers manager Jim Leyland told the AP.
Florida didn't even approach the Tigers until Tuesday morning. The Marlins told the Tigers they could have both stars for those six players, then Detroit called back about two hours later and agreed, the baseball official said.
"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 Willis.
Cabrera, an All-Star in each of the last four seasons, 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 offseason.
"I'm glad we're in the other division," Boston manager Terry Francona said. "That lineup just got scary."
Willis, the 2003 NL Rookie of the Year and a two-time All-Star, is coming off a down year in which he went 10-15 with a 5.17 ERA. He 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.
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 raises.
"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."
In return, the Marlins get a pair of highly rated prospects: Maybin was the 10th pick in the 2005 amateur draft and Miller was selected sixth overall the following year.
Boston, meanwhile, was focused on Santana, the Minnesota Twins' two-time Cy Young Award winner. Finding the price too high, the Yankees ended their efforts to acquire the 28-year-old left-hander.
Yankees senior vice president Hank Steinbrenner had set a Monday deadline for an agreement with the Twins.
"A deadline is a deadline. It was pretty much done as of this morning," he said. "He's a fine pitcher, but there's a lot of things that go into this. This isn't fantasy baseball."
Boston had offered the Twins packages built either around pitcher Jon Lester or outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, but not both.
"I know there's a lot of speculation that we're close to something big," Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said. "Until we reach an agreement, then we're not that close."
New York had proposed pitcher Phil Hughes and center fielder Melky Cabrera. The Twins dropped their demand that pitcher Ian Kennedy be included, but the sides couldn't agree on a third player.
"To tell you the truth, toward the end, Minnesota negotiated in good faith. They really did," Steinbrenner said. "I have no problem with them."
Twins general manager Bill Smith wouldn't discuss the talks specifically. He also refused to get into whether he was upset with Steinbrenner's repeated public comments about negotiations. When asked about Steinbrenner, Smith responded with praise for Yankees general manager Brian Cashman.
"I have the greatest respect for Brian Cashman. He's a gentleman. He's a classy professional in this game," Smith said. "I don't have any problems with the Yankees. They've been good to the Twins. They've been good to the Twins for a lot of years."


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