It wasn’t the deal everyone expected the Detroit Tigers to make, but they did complete one transaction while taking part in the 2012 MLB Winter Meetings. The Tigers were expected to try and sign outfielder Scott Hairston, re-sign Anibal Sanchez, or trade away Brennan Boesch. Instead the Tigers traded their former second round pick pitching prospect for a catching prospect.
The Tigers traded pitching prospect, Andrew Oliver, to the Pittsburgh Pirates for catching prospect Ramon Cabrera. For the Tigers, it represented a chance to trade away an out of favor pitcher with control issues who had been relegated to the bullpen. The trade also brings in a catcher to a thin Tigers’ positional battle. With the departure of Gerald Laird, the Tigers are expected to bring up a prospect to back-up Avilla.
Cabrera is a switch-hitting catcher prospect from Venezuela. The young catcher has played in the Pirates organization for five seasons. In the five seasons, Cabrera has a batting average of .292 with an OBP of .360 in 408 games played. In 2012, Cabrera played for the Altoona Curve in Double-A. He had a .276 batting average, with 22 doubles, two triples and three home runs. On the defensive side, Cabrera has thrown out 22% of base runners in five years.
Oliver had fallen out of favor with the Tigers and could flourish with a change of pace for the Pirates. The Tigers took Oliver in the second round of the 2009 MLB Draft. When he was called up in 2010 by the Tigers, Oliver never caught on in the majors. In two years, Oliver posted a 0-5 record with a 7.11 ERA. Last season with Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens, Oliver posted a 5-9 record. Oliver started 19 games and pitched relief in an additional nine. In 118 innings, Oliver threw 112 strikeouts and a relatively high 88 walks.
Both players involved in the trade had been added to their 40-man rosters, which protects both prospects from the MLB Rule 5 Draft.