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The biggest steal in Detroit Tigers history almost never happened

Everyone remembers in December 2007 when the Detroit Tigers pulled off the biggest theft in team history and acquired Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis from the Marlins for Andrew Miller, Cameron Maybin, Mike Rabelo, Burke Badenhop, Eulogia De La Cruz, and Dallas Trahern.  The Marlins were afraid of losing and unwilling to pay Willis and Cabrera going into their arbitration years, so they dumped them to the Tigers for some top prospects.  As we know Cabrera is one of, if not the best, hitters in the game right now and Willis failed to get back is Cy Young caliber stuff.  Even with Willis not returning to form this was a one-sided trade from the start.

When Cabrera came to the Tigers he was already a four-time All-Star, with a career .313 average, 842 hits, 138 home runs, and 523 RBIs through 720 games.  He was already the type of player that should never come up in trade talks.  With the Tigers trading for him, it instantly gave them one of the scariest lineups in the league.

Before the Tigers were approached by the Marlins with the trade offer, the Yankees were knocking on the Marlins door.  The Yankees wanted to acquired Cabrera as they had long coveted him as a possible replacement to Alex Rodriguez.  But Yankee GM Brian Cashman refused to part ways with Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, or Ian Kennedy.  Next the Angels had inquired about trying to get acquire Cabrera, but were also unsuccessful and were never given a second chance to make a better offer.  Then one December morning, the Marlins approached the Tigers with a trade opportunity. Cabrera and Willis, for six players.  It only took Dombrowski two hours to come to his senses and pull the trigger on the biggest steal in Tigers history.

A bummed-out Joe Girardi said, “Miguel Cabrera is one of the finest hitters in the game. He can do so many things with a bat, whether you want him to hit a home run for you, you want to hit and run, work the count, get on base. And Dontrelle Willis has been one of the premier lefties in the National League.”

This steal of a trade has helped propel the Tigers to four straight division titles and two World Series appearances.

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