Two people with knowledge of the Tigers’ plans heading into the winter meetings downplayed the possibility that Miguel Cabrera will be traded in the coming week, with one describing the chances of a deal as being “pretty remote.”
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The team is considering offers for Cabrera — in part because he is owed $126 million through 2015, in part because of their frustration over his late-season drinking incident.
If the team dealt Cabrera, team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski would have less motivation to deal starter Edwin Jackson and popular center fielder Curtis Granderson.
In that sense, one source said, dealing the star first baseman “would solve a lot of problems.” The Tigers are in the unenviable position of considering whether to trade players who are performing, so they may more comfortably afford the salaries of those who are not.
But the Tigers also intend to field a contender in 2010, which would be exceedingly difficult without Cabrera (or a run producer like him) in the middle of the order. And it’s hard to believe that a Cabrera suitor would offer a young hitter of similar aptitude who earns the league minimum — which is what Dombrowski would probably request as part of the package.
Cabrera, 26, is coming off a year in which he batted .324 with 34 home runs and 103 RBIs. He has driven in over 100 runs in each of his six full big-league seasons.
At this point, the sources believe that the Tigers are more likely to trade Jackson and/or Granderson than Cabrera. Granderson’s value to the Angels has increased, now that they need a leadoff hitter to replace Chone Figgins, who is about to sign a four-year contract with the rival Mariners.
If the Tigers move Granderson, they would want to add a young center fielder at some point in their winter dealings. Apparently, they aren’t eager to give the everyday center field job to an in-house candidate such as Ryan Raburn or Clete Thomas.
Justin Verlander doesn’t appear to be trade candidate, but his future with the club is probably tied (indirectly) to what happens in the weeks to come.
Verlander, who is on the verge of receiving a big raise in salary arbitration, is on track to become a free agent after the 2011 season. If the Tigers trade prominent players such as Granderson and Jackson, they may have a difficult time convincing Verlander to remain in Detroit for the long term.
Think of it this way: Verlander is as far away from free agency now as Roy Halladay was at the beginning of the 2009 season.