So as you’ve probably heard by now, the Fish traded Miguel Cabrera, Dontrelle Willis, and Fredi Gonzalez’ will to live to Detroit for top prospects Andrew Miller, Cameron Maybin, and four other players. I’m not here to dissect who won this deal *coughDetroitcough*, but rather because I’m kind of concerned about the implications this has for the Dodgers.
Let’s just say that Miller and Maybin are equal in trade value to Clayton Kershaw and Matt Kemp. It’s not a perfect comparision – I think the Dodgers pair is slightly more valued – but for the sake of this discussion, it’s close enough. The other four players are an MLB-ready backup catcher, and 3 minor league pitchers, who Keith Law describes as a “bullpen flamethrower”, “possible NL 5th starter”, and an “organizational arm”.
Here’s my issue with this. As detailed here, and here, on this site, amongst many other places, the Fish were asking an astronomical amount for Cabrera alone. For just him, the Marlins were rumored to be asking for “four players from a group that includes pitcher Chad Billingsley, pitching prospect Clayton Kershaw, third baseman Andy LaRoche, first baseman James Loney and outfielder Matt Kemp.”
Yet somehow, the Tigers got both Cabrera and Willis for a package that’s equal to two of the players from that group, plus four much less valuable players. Now, I heard that what the Marlins were asking for from the Dodgers was astronomical from many different sources, so I’m inclined to believe it. So why did they ask the Dodgers for seemingly more for just Cabrera than they ended up taking from Detroit for Cabrera and Willis?
This is actually something I’ve been concerned about for years: that the Dodgers’ superior farm system actually works against them in trades. Too many teams are more worried about how the trade “looks” than in the actual quality of the players they get back. That is, if they get two of the three best players from a team with a weaker farm system, those two players may only be equivalent to the 6th and 7th best Dodger prospects. So then this conversation happens:
GM: “Team X is going to give us their #2 and #3 prospects. Give us your top two if you want to beat them.”
Ned: “But that’s not equal. Our #2 and #3 are wayyyy better than those guys. That’s equal to our B+ guys.”
GM: “But it’s their 2nd and 3rd best. Why would I take your 6th and 7th best? What do you think I am, stupid?”
Ned: “Well, now that you mention it….”
And that’s how Detroit ends up with both Miggy and Dontrelle for a package far less than what we would have had to pay. And that’s why we don’t make any blockbuster deals.