The Florida Marlins went through a rebuilding period after the 2005 season. They traded away players like Mike Lowell, Josh Beckett, Luis Castillo, Paul Lo Duca, Juan Pierre and Carlos Delgado. Through those trades, they acquired young talent like Hanley Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez, Ricky Nolasco and Mike Jacobs. This wasn’t the first fire sale by the Marlins, but it was a little different from the rest because of what they kept.
The two players the Marlins were building around were Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis. The latter started the next two Opening Days for the Marlins and Cabrera went on to hit .339 and .320 the next two seasons and averaged 30 home runs and 117 RBIs.
The young nucleus for the Marlins was starting to take place with Ramirez, Dan Uggla, Josh Willingham and Jacobs providing big power numbers. The team then shopped Cabrera and Willis together knowing that they couldn’t afford them any longer and keep those young players. They fielded reported offers from teams including the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim before making a swap with the Detroit Tigers.
The Tigers sent top outfield prospect Cameron Maybin, top pitching prospect Andrew Miller as well as catcher Mike Rabelo and pitchers Burke Badenhop, Dallas Trahern and Eugenio De La Cruz. Trahern never made it to the majors and both Rabelo and De La Cruz had very short stints with the Marlins. Maybin and Miller both had their ups and downs before being traded. Maybin was sent to the San Diego Padres after playing in just parts of three seasons and never playing more than 82 games in one year. Miller also played in just parts of three seasons and never made more than 20 starts in any of them before being trade to the Boston Red Sox.
The most productive player the Marlins got in the trade was Badenhop. He came up as a starter in 2008, but was a more reliable reliever in his time with the Fish. He finished his four seasons with a 13-15 record and pitched in 151 games including 10 starts and two saves.
The Tigers, on the other hand, acquired two proven Major League All-Stars in Cabrera and Willis. In his time with the Tigers, Willis went 2-8 with a 6.86 ERA in parts of three seasons before he was designated for assignment. Willis, who signed a three-year, $29 million deal with the Tigers just two weeks after the trade lost his release point and suffered from control issues. He played for the Cincinnati Reds in 2011 and bounced around organizations before retiring in 2013.
The biggest piece of the deal was Cabrera, who signed an eight-year, $153 million contract during the 2008 Spring Training. Since then, he has gone on to win two MVP awards and won the first American League Triple Crown since 1967 during his first MVP year in 2012. In his six seasons with Detroit, he has averaged 38 home runs and 123 RBIs. He has never played less than 148 games in a season and has hit at least .324 in every season except one.
When you evaluate this trade as far as talent sent and where the teams are now, it easy to see who the winner was. Detroit landed the best player in baseball and has been to the postseason the last three years. The Marlins don’t have any of those players on their roster and their record has dropped the last four years. They haven’t been to the postseason since 2003 and they lost 100 games in 2013. The Tigers won one of the most lopsided trades in baseball history.