Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Tigers reach preliminary deal with Marlins for Cabrera and Willis
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Detroit and Florida finished their
eight-player mega-deal with surprising speed Wednesday, leaving
Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis eager to start playing for the
Tigers. For other teams, the winter meetings were mostly talk and
Johan Santana was still with the Minnesota Twins as negotiations
with the Boston Red Sox appeared to slow down. The New York
Yankees, having said they were out of the Santana sweepstakes, were
considering only minor moves.
There was no major news on Oakland's Dan Haren and Baltimore's
Erik Bedard, two other starting pitchers who may be available in
the trade market.
Colorado did move to re-sign Aaron Cook, closing in on a $30
million, three-year deal with their World Series Game 4 starter.
While pitching has been the focus of many teams, the Los Angeles
Dodgers talked with St. Louis about third baseman Scott Rolen, who
has feuded with Cardinals manager Tony La Russa.
"He asked to be traded. So I think under normal circumstances,
if a guy doesn't want to be part of your situation, then you
consider that. So inquiries have been made," La Russa said,
sounding a bit like Don Corleone.
In the biggest trade of the offseason, the again-downsizing
Marlins received a package of six players from Detroit, including
two highly rated prospects: left-hander Andrew Miller and
outfielder Cameron Maybin. The teams reached a preliminary
"It's tilting, isn't it? It's not a good thing," said
Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire, whose team competes with Detroit
in the AL Central. "There's very, very good teams in our division.
Detroit obviously has really, really improved themselves, and
they're pretty good to start with."
Florida also received catcher Mike Rabelo and right-handers
Burke Badenhop, Eulogio De La Cruz and Dallas Trahern. Signed for
$1,325,000 next year, Miller immediately became the highest-paid
player on the Marlins.
Cabrera and Willis were the last players left from Florida's
2003 World Series championship team. But having failed thus far to
secure funding for a new ballpark, the Marlins felt they couldn't
afford the salaries of Cabrera, who figures to make at least $11
million next year, and of Willis, who likely will earn about $8
"Although we cannot ignore the economic realities we face,
which will change the moment we are in a new facility, our
determination to win on the field remains as steadfast as ever,"
Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria said.
Willis, a former NL Rookie of the Year award winner, was on
vacation in Mexico when he heard the news.
"I was caught off-guard," he said on a conference call. "When
I heard where I was going, I was eager and excited."
Tigers president Dave Dombrowski said the pudgy Cabrera had
already lost 15 pounds during the offseason.
"If he has been a little bit overweight, he's still a pretty
good player, in fact a very good player," Dombrowski said. "We'll
work with him on it."
On the Santana front, Minnesota general manager Bill Smith
maintained the two-time AL Cy Young Award winner could remain with
the Twins. Santana will get $13.25 million next year, then become
eligible for free agency. The Twins haven't been able to sign him
to an extension.
"I've said all along it's our first choice," Smith said.
"We'd love to have him. We'd love to keep him."
New York Yankees senior vice president Hank Steinbrenner said
Tuesday his team had ended its pursuit of the left-hander, leaving
Minnesota to decide whether to accept an offer from the Boston Red
Sox that would include Jon Lester or Jacoby Ellsbury and a package
The Mets also have told the Twins they remain interested.
"Everyone knows who is out there," New York manager Willie
Randolph said. "The big fish are out there. Santana is still out
there. I don't think that we're necessarily out of the picture even
though I think Boston and the Yankees get most of the play on that.
Depends on what Minnesota wants, if they have what we like, that's
something that might happen."
But Minnesota didn't seem in a hurry to trade Santana.
"If it's a Red Sox player, Red Sox timetable. That's how I
would look at it," Boston general manager Theo Epstein said.
"They're probably doing the same thing."
AP Baseball Writer Mike Fitzpatrick and AP Sports Writer Jimmy
Golen contributed to this report.