As Miggy Month — and Miguel Cabrera's career — nears its end, why don't we take a look back at where it all started, at least for the Detroit Tigers?
The Detroit Tigers acquired Miguel Cabrera, along with Dontrelle Willis, from the then-Florida Marlins on Dec. 5, 2007, in exchange for pitchers Andrew Miller, Dallas Trahern, Burke Badenhop, and Eulogio De La Cruz; outfielder Cameron Maybin; and catcher Mike Rabelo. It was a trade that shocked the baseball world at the time.
It was viewed as a trade that would put the Tigers over the top, and marked another time in which the Marlins wouldn't pay up for one of their young stars. But what if it never happened? What if it fell through at the 11th hour?
Today, we're going to attempt to answer that question. Obviously we don't have a magic crystal ball, so there's going to be some hypatheticals in this article. But this is a very interesting question to ponder.
Following the 2007 season, the Tigers were looking for an upgrade at third base. Brandon Inge had regressed significantly after a career year in 2006.
The free agent market was pretty barren for position players that year. It was a year where a lot of older star players — such as Barry Bonds, Mike Piazza, and Kenny Lofton — were all free agents and decided to retire.
Mike Lowell quickly signed with the Red Sox. After he was gone, the third base market was as thin as it gets. They sure as heck weren't going to sign A-rod.
Knowing that, it makes total sense why Dombrowski went the trade route. It's something we hop Scott Harris does this offseason. But what if Miggy wasn't available? What if the Marlins didn't want to trade him?
Well, then the Tigers didn't really have a lot of options. They would have been better off trying to fill the position internally, or rock with Inge for another year.
Since they did trade for Edgar Renteria to play shortstop for that year, they could have just shifted Carlos Guillen to third base. That's what they did anyway after they moved Miggy to first base.
As for what the Tigers gave up, they would have gotten to keep Miller, Maybin, Rabelo, and the other pieces they gave up in that trade. Miller probably would have slotted into the rotation in Willis' place. And since Maybin would have still been here, maybe they throw him in the outfield and trot out Marcus Thames at first base? I'm just spitballing here.
For the Marlins, they actually finished with a winning record in 2008 at 84-77. Would Miggy have made a difference? Surely he would have, right? Jorge Cantu took over at third base, and was admirable, as was Mike Jacobs at first base, but man. Having a 25-year-old Miggy sure would have been nice.
Miller really struggled with the Marlins, though D-train probably wouldn't have been much of an upgrade. Maybin barely played in 2008, and Rabelo never amounted to anything. For what they got in return, they would have been better off keeping Miggy, even though he probably would have walked in free agency in a year or two.
The Tigers ended up in last place in the AL Central at 74-88 in 2008. The trade didn't do much for them that year, but boy did it pay off for them in the end.
It was hard to piece together what the Tigers would have done, especially considering Miggy didn't work out as a third baseman. However, one thing was clear: imagining the last 15 years without Miguel Cabrera in a Tigers uniform was strange. Interesting, but very strange.