(AP Photo/Duane Burleson)
#5: Trading for Carlos Guillen
The 2003 Detroit Tigers were filled with a mix of young players that didn’t have much talent and aging veterans that never made much of a difference during their careers throughout baseball. The result was the loss of an American League-record 119 games.
It was clear to owner Mike Ilitch that the logic of counting on a flawed minor league system and not scour the free agent market to build your team was not the best course of action for the franchise at the time.
In his second offseason as the GM of the Tigers, Dave Dombrowski sought to rebuild this team. He signed Ivan Rodriguez late in the off-season, but he brought in a trio of veterans that had decent track records in OF Rondell White, IF Fernando Vina and RP Ugueth Urbina.
One of the moves that received little fanfare, but might have been perhaps the most important one considering his longevity with the club, was the acquisition of Carlos Guillen from the Seattle Mariners for Ramon Santiago and Juan Gonzalez (no, not the one you’re thinking of).
This immediately upgraded the shortstop position both offensively and defensively.
Forgive the Mariners for giving up on him for they knew not what they had. Guillen’s best season with Seattle was 2003 when he hit .276 with seven homers, a far cry from his first season in Detroit in 2004 when he found his power with 20 homers and a .318 average.
He went to the first of three All-Star games in 2004 and was a key member of the AL Championship team in 2006, hitting .320 with 19 homers and a .920 OPS. He was also one of the few Tigers to hit in the World Series with a .353 average to go with a .370 average though the three rounds of the postseason.
Sadly, he was mostly gone by the time the Tigers started their divisional dominance in 2011 and retired in 2012.
Next: Placido Polanco