Detroit Tigers: Universal DH makes Miguel Cabrera trade easier

The Detroit Tigers could trade Miguel Cabrera (shown rounding third base). (Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images)
The Detroit Tigers could trade Miguel Cabrera (shown rounding third base). (Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images) /

With news that the universal DH would go into effect in 2020, along with the Tigers’ recent efforts to reduce payroll, trading Miguel Cabrera would make a lot of sense.

Among one of the details in Monday’s approved plan by the MLB owners, was a universal DH. For the first time ever, the National League would not have their pitchers up to bat and would finally join the American League with having the DH rule. An NL team could have the Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera instead.

A few National League franchises should be ready for the DH. For example, the Dodgers have a deep bench and two right-handed bats like AJ Pollock and Enrique Hernandez could split time there. In the case of the Cubs, Kyle Schwarber could be the DH and slide in the newly acquired Steve Souza Jr. Even the defending World Series champions Nationals could put Ryan Zimmerman as the team’s DH.

Why should the Tigers Trade Miguel Cabrera?

Before we get to NL teams that need a DH, let’s ask the most important question. The why.

Cabrera, a sure Hall of Famer, was set to make $30 million this season (pending changes due to the shortened season) and next season. In 2022 and 2023, the final two years of his contract, he is set to make $32 million per season. The Tigers payroll for 2020 is $94.4 million so based on my bad math skills, he makes up 1/3 or so of the team’s payroll.

The Tigers have been reluctant to spend and with the recent one-year deals to field a competitive until the farm system starts bearing fruit, it would make sense to trade Cabrera for three reasons:

  • It would allow the team to save money for arbitration eligibility players in 2021 like Michael Fulmer, Daniel Norris, JaCoby Jones, Buck Farmer, and most importantly, Matt Boyd. Depending on this season goes, they may seek a raise.
  • The trade would allow the team to fill positions they may look for depth at or to start right away. Second base comes to mind or a corner outfielder. There are no guarantees that in 2021 any of the Tigers outfield prospects will be ready and Kody Clemens may need another year in Double-A. Currently, he is one of the Tigers’ top prospects at second.
  • Making a pitch at a young free agent that can be another building block. Isaac Paredes, Matt Manning, Tarik Skubal, Casey Mize, Riley Greene and whomever the Tigers get at number one next month providing they live up to the expectations, could make this team much more interesting to watch in a division that is becoming one of the best in the American League.

Now I am realistic. I fully expect the Tigers to take on some of Cabrera’s salary. To what amount, who knows, but it is better to have some money to spend. We all witness “the best shape of his life” narrative in the spring. I do not doubt it at all and he is one of the greatest Tigers of all time. His extension was well worth it. But if one of these teams comes calling with an offer, you have to listen.

Which teams could the Tigers trade Miguel Cabrera to?

San Francisico Giants

Yasiel Puig has been linked to the Giants recently, but Puig is a decent defender and could serve better in the outfield. Cabrera’s career stats at AT&T Park stand out a bit: .324/.398/.634 with an OPS of 1.031 and tOPS+ of 118 in 71 at-bats.

The Giants could use an offense boost.  They were ranked 13th in the NL in home runs and 14th in total batting average in 2019. The Giants farm system is making strides under Farhan Zaidi. His ability to evaluate talent (see the Mike Yastrzemski deal) makes him an ideal trade partner.

Miami Marlins

The Marlins quietly have been rebuilding up their farm system with some intriguing outfield prospects in Monte Harrison and Jesus Sanchez, who they picked up in a trade from Tampa. With Victor Victor Mesa and JJ Bleday on the way, Miami would have to make some room in their outfield.

The Marlins could rectify the trade they made in 2007, but to think that is the only reason why they would make that trade is silly. Lewin Diaz, who they picked up from Minnesota, may not be ready to take over at first. By doing that, you could make Jesus Aguilar your DH. If Diaz is not ready, why not trade for Miguel? He lives there in the off-season and he may bring up attendance.

This isn’t a J.D Martinez type of situation when it comes to asking for prospects. While they could have gotten more back for a star like Martinez, the haul back for Cabrera may not overwhelm you.  Martinez was in his prime and Miguel is starting the end of a great career. The universal DH rule may keep that career going longer.