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Marlins agree to trade Cabrera, Willis to Tigers

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Florida Marlins dangled Miguel Cabrera before Southern California for weeks, confident the Angels or Dodgers would deliver four of their best young players for one of the best hitters in baseball.

The Angels and Dodgers said no, and the Marlins dramatically shifted course Tuesday. The Marlins agreed to trade Cabrera and pitcher Dontrelle Willis to Detroit for six young players, including the Tigers’ top two prospects, pitcher Andrew Miller and outfielder Cameron Maybin.

“That’s a lot of players,” Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti said. “They got what they wanted. Apparently, Detroit did too.”

Neither the Tigers nor Marlins confirmed the trade, pending a review of medical records, but an announcement is expected Wednesday. The news nonetheless spread quickly, to the delight of the Tigers.

“Wow. That’s unbelievable,” Detroit closer Todd Jones said. “I’m just blown away. I thought it was a big typo when I first saw it.”

The Marlins shed their two most expensive players to accelerate their latest rebuilding process, with the possibility that former Angels pitcher Kevin Gregg, Florida’s closer last season, could be their highest-paid player next season, at about US$2 million. Willis and Cabrera, each two seasons from free agency, are expected to earn a total of roughly US$20 million next season.

The Tigers acquired a durable starter and one of the most prolific hitters in the majors, assembling a monster lineup with Cabrera, Magglio Ordonez and Gary Sheffield at its heart.

“There’s a lot of American League pitchers (and teams) that just got real nervous. We’re one of them,” said Terry Francona, manager of the World Series champion Boston Red Sox. “That’s quite a lineup.”

That lineup features Curtis Granderson and Placido Polanco at the top — and first baseman Carlos Guillen, shortstop Edgar Renteria, catcher Ivan Rodriguez and left fielder Jacque Jones at the bottom.

Chicago White Sox Manager Ozzie Guillen chuckled when asked if that lineup scares him.

“Not me,” he said, smiling. “It’s the pitchers. That’s a good lineup. It’s not any different than the New York Yankees’ lineup last year.”

The Yankees led the majors last season by scoring 968 runs. No other team scored 900.

Of the Tigers’ top eight prospects, as ranked by Baseball America earlier this year, they traded four for Cabrera and Willis and two more for Renteria. None of those eight would have been expected to start next season in Detroit.

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Marlins agree to trade Cabrera, Willis to Tigers
This is a 2007 file photo of Miguel Cabrera of the Florida Marlins baseball team. The Detroit Tigers reached a preliminary agreement to acquire Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis from ...

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