The Marlins are giving every indication that they are committed to dealing Miguel Cabrera, whether because they don't want to pay him what he'll get in arbitration the next two years (Cabrera won't be eligible for free agency until the 2009 offseason) or because they're tired of his "act" (the same routine they pulled prior to parting ways with AJ Burnett) -- and really, who wouldn't get tired of a middle of the order hitter on a Hall of Fame pace to begin his career?
While some teams might be looking at Cabrera as a consolation prize of sorts in the ARod sweepstakes, organizations who fall out of that hunt quickly could make a strong move for Cabrera before ARod signs. Let's take a look at the most likely trading partners:
Yankees: Marlins GM Larry Beinfest appears to be targeting a top of the rotation starter and a center fielder in trade talks. The Yankees have both, but while Melky Cabrera is an easy fit for the CF slot Brian Cashman might be reluctant to give up either Phil Hughes or Joba Chamberlain, and Beinfest likely won't settle for a lesser pitching prospect like Ian Kennedy or Alan Horne. Obviously the Yankees can afford Miggy, both in the short term and for whatever it would take to sign him long term. Cashman could easily decide it makes more sense to sign Mike Lowell though, and keep his young talent, rather than pay the ransom Beinfest will want.
Red Sox: ARod is the top priority here, and Theo Epstein likely won't consider a package like Jacoby Ellsbury and Jon Lester or Clay Buchholz anyway. They have the resources to get and keep Cabrera, and can't complain about their last deal with the Marlins (Josh Beckett for Hanley Ramirez and change) but unless the politics of *not* getting ARod come into play they're probably a long shot to acquire Miggy.
Dodgers: Could be the favorites. The Dodgers would like to make a roster splash to back up the Joe Torre hire, and have a wealth of young talent to send Florida's way. A package of Andy LaRoche, Chad Billingsley and Andre Ethier might make some Dodger fans cringe, but would certainly get Beinfest's attention.
Angels: The LAA of A could end up being on the losing end of both the ARod and Miggy sweepstakes. They have some nice, major league-ready talent to send the Marlins' way (Reggie Willits for CF, Erwin Santana for the rotation and something few other teams can offer, a young catcher in either Jeff Mathis or Mike Napoli) but the players they can offer may not have the upside Beinfest usually covets, and would be a little closer to making bigger money in arbitration than Florida owner Jeff Loria would like.
White Sox: Another long shot, but ChiSox manager Ozzie Guillen is friends with Miggy, and you never know which way GM Kenny Williams will jump. A package of Josh Fields, Gio Gonzalez and Ryan Sweeney could get Williams to the table though, although it might not quite get the job done.
Indians: Their available young talent may not quite match up with what Beinfest is looking for, but if GM Mark Shapiro really wants Cabrera and digs deep, a package of Franklin Gutierrez, Andy Marte and one of Cleveland's top pitching prospects (Chuck Lofgren or Adam Miller) would certainly be in the ballpark. A package that big seems unlikely, however.
Giants: They've been mentioned as a suitor, as they look for a star to replace Barry Bonds, but it's hard to see what they could offer to fill all the Marlins' needs, even if Brian Sabean was willing to give up Matt Cain or Tim Lincecum.