Part one of this series broached the topic of trading Miguel Cabrera, part two examined the financial implications, and part three will take a look at potential returns for the Greatest Hitter of this Generation. And just a reminder: no one who live in Michigan or is a fan of the Tigers in general would ever want to trade Cabrera. Ever. Ever ever ever. But, at the peak of his value, he could fetch an incredible return that would set the team up not just for continued success (as everyone else on the team remains on the team, and the Tigers did go to the World Series in 2006 without Cabrera), but also for future successes as well.
Aug 26, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera (24) runs the bases after he hits a two run home run in the fifth inning off Oakland Athletics starting pitcher A.J. Griffin (64) at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
While putting together this list of teams and potential packages, the main thing that stood out to me are that there are currently four players in Major League Baseball whose teams would not trade them one-for-one for Cabrera: Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Clayton Kershaw, and Matt Harvey. For Trout, Harper, and Harvey, it’s a matter of team control plus their insane ceilings, and with Kershaw, well, he’s the best pitcher on the planet and he’s only 25. Other than that, it would make sense that literally every other player associated with MLB is up for grabs because Miguel Cabrera is insanely, all-time-awesomely good at baseball.
Another thing to consider is if there is a need for Cabrera defensively on a team. A team with a good first baseman might need him at third, a team with a good third baseman might need him at first, and teams that have good players at either position could use him at DH.
Most National League teams didn’t make the cut due to the lack of DH, and also because a lot of teams are straight-up rebuilding, already playoff favorites, or simply don’t have the prospects and/or depth of roster to make a deal. Most rebuilding teams aren’t on this list regardless of league affiliation just because they are starting from the ground up, and it wouldn’t make sense for a team like the Astros to acquire a Win-Now player when they are cultivating a culture for the future.
The Texas Rangers are about winning. They’ve sniffed two World Series championships, and GM Jon Daniels has paved that road with savvy moves. But with Josh Hamilton leaving and Nelson Cruz potentially exiled for his role in Biogenesis, they could be looking to acquire a prolific hitter to round out their lineup. It makes sense for them to acquire Cabrera and shift him to first, where solid (not great) incumbent Mitch Moreland currently plays. In order to complete a trade, they would have to deal Jurickson Profar first and foremost, along with top catching prospect Jorge Alfaro, pitcher Martin Perez, and speedy outfielder Craig Gentry to round things out.
The Baltimore Orioles recently seem to be one key piece away from taking control of a ridiculous staunch AL east, and one can only imagine the stranglehold they could place on it if they added a bat of Cabrera’s magnitude. Of course, the package they’d have to offer would consist of Manny Machado, Dylan Bundy, and probably either a half-decent prospect or a warm body at the major league level. This package may be small, but the returns could be astronomical: The Orioles had said they’d be willing to trade Bundy who, although currently out for nearly a year after Tommy John surgery, can be an impact starter, and the inclusion of Machado (who isn’t quite the caliber of Mike Trout or Bryce Harper, but is still an amazing player) would solidify the left side of the Tigers’ infield for years. Cabrera could be plugged in at third base, where JJ Hardy would help limit is defensive deficiencies, or he could be played at first with Chris Davis moving to the outfield.
The Seattle Mariners are a fringe team, where they can’t seem to move forward or backward with their team. They are unsettled in a lot of positions, have a deep farm system, and with Cabrera they could take a leap in the standings and use him in several different places. They are also owned by the Nintendo Corporation, who literally fart a confetti of hundred dollar bills – they can pick up any tab. Their package begins with uber-pitching prospect Taijuan Walker, and will also include James Paxon, Nick Franklin, Oliver Perez, and current sad Biogenesis panda Jesus Montero. This takes care of the Tigers’ pitching, wherein they could afford to trade Doug Fister or Rick Porcello or Max Scherzer if necessary, and gives them a double-play combination for the future. It would also give them a project in Montero, someone who may pay off in the long run, but if he fails then it would be no big loss.
The last team on this list is, admittedly, a long shot. In fact, it’s like a Hail Mary into a waterfall with hopes of hitting a tadpole. The team that could provide the best package for the Tigers is divisional rival Minnesota. The twins have a plethora of young talent, so much so that they could afford to trade several pieces away and still maintain an upwards trajectory. The jewel of this particular package would be third baseman and thunder god Miguel Sano. Only 20, Sano has 40-homer potential, but lacks a solid defensive position and can be immature at times. He’d be followed by second baseman Eddie Rosario, outfielder Oswaldo Arcia (whose game some analysts compare to Bobby Abreu), reliever Jared Burton, and shortstop/second baseman Brian Dozier. This provides help in the outfield, infield, bullpen, and even a very useful utility, and the prospects are all about major league ready.
These are just a few of the possibilities that could happen if Dombrowski wanted to trade Cabrera, and this isn’t even taking into account what deep-pocketed franchises like the Yankees, Nationals, and Dodgers would do to get Cabrera.
Assuming, of course, he’s not a Tiger for life.