January 8, 2004 – Detroit Tigers trade for Carlos Guillén
Seasons with the Detroit Tigers: 8
Career WAR with the Detroit Tigers:18.6
Much has been said and written about the importance of Iván Rodríguez and Magglio Ordóñez signing with a downtrodden Detroit Tigers team in the midst of a decade-plus stretch of futility. The symbolism of those two February signings was undoubtedly huge, and the excitement level among fans when Fielder and Upton signed was enormous, but none of those players ended up performing better for the Detroit Tigers than Carlos Guillén.
A highly touted prospect in the Houston Astros organization, Carlos Guillén was traded to the Seattle Mariners as part of the package to land Randy Johnson. If that wasn’t enough pressure on Guillén, all he had to do in Seattle was replace Alex Rodriguez at shortstop. He was a solid player for the Mariners, but his first above-average season in Seattle came in 2003, and perhaps the Mariners saw a chance to sell high on Guillén and buy low on Ramon Santiago, Detroit’s young shortstop. Things didn’t work out well for Seattle.
Guillén came to Detroit and was immediately the sort of player teams dream about acquiring. He was a switch-hitting shortstop who played above-average defense, showed strong plate discipline, hit for average, hit for power, and stole bases. Guillén made the All-Star team in his first year with the Tigers, and then made two more a few years later. From 2004-2008 he accumulated 18.6 fWAR, and his 127 wRC+ was the second best among shortstops, behind only a young Hanley Ramirez. Injuries took a huge toll on Guillén, and by 2011 his career was over. But before he left he gave us one of the most glorious and entertaining moments of poor sportsmanship in Detroit Tigers history.