So the big news of the day is that the Tigers have traded top prospects Andrew Miller and Cameron Maybin along with 4 lesser prospects for Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis. How fortunate for the Tigers that they had Miller and Maybin around to make the trade, huh?
The Tigers bought their fortune, more or less. Andrew Miller was drafted 6th overall in the 2006 draft. He got a signing bonus of 3.85 million to go with another 3 million plus in guaranteed money. The players drafted directly ahead and behind him got signing bonuses of 2 million ( Brandon Morrow ) and 2.3 million ( Clayton Kershaw ). By paying an extra 1.5 million or so the Tigers were able to lock up a premier talent. Cameron Maybin was drafted 10th overall in 2005, and after a lengthy holdout he signed for slightly above "slot money" with a signing bonus of 2.65 million dollars. In comparison, Wade Townsend, drafted eighth in 2005, got a signing bonus of 1.5 million. ( The ninth pick that year, Pelfry, was also signed above slot value. ) By paying an extra 1 million the Tigers locked up Maybin. By a very simple analysis, this extra 2.5 million spent in 2005 and 2006 has paid off with Miguel Cabrera in 2008.
Now, the Tigers are losing 4 pitching prospects in this deal. That hurts their overall pitching depth, no question. But they still have Rick Porcello, drafted 27th overall last year and given a signing bonus of 3.85 million to sign, well over slot money that far down in the first round. By paying over slot for him, they put themselves in a position to trade away four pitching prospects and still have some depth.
The Tigers may well have been better off if they had drafted Kershaw instead of Miller in 2006, of course. He would have been cheaper and may have even have been more slightly more valued by the Marlins thatn Miller. But you'll come out ahead over the long haul by drafting premium talent that drops because of signability concerns and then paying over slot to get that talent on board. If the Tigers had just taken players at each spot in the draft that they knew they could sign at the MLB approved amount for that slot, they might not have had enough young talent to get Cabrera.
I don't know which team wins this trade. I'm bad at figuring out that sort of thing. But viewed one way the Tigers basically got Cabrera for an outlay of 6.2 million dollars back in 2005 and 2006. It's not as if losing either Maybin or Miller creates any true holes in the 2008 Tigers. ( Maybe losing them creates holes in the 2010 Tigers, though. ) Anyway, about 6 million for Cabrera is a steal for the Tigers, isn't it?
I wish the Dodgers were willing to consistently go over slot in the way the Tigers are. Nothing beats smart drafting, of course. You need to give the bonuses to the right players. But I wonder, who might Kyle Blair have been traded for down the road? What might an investment of 1 million in 2007 have garnered the Dodgers in future years?