Looking back on that chilly, gray December day in Nashville, Tenn., the Tigers can only wonder what might have happened had timing or conversations been even slightly different.

They could have been pitching against Miguel Cabrera rather than relying upon his bat to fire their championship hopes.

It was all quite unimaginable, the 2007 trade that brought a star hitter to the Tigers — until that Thanksgiving week conversation owner Mike Ilitch had with his front-office chief, Dave Dombrowski.

Ilitch knew the Marlins were watching payroll and Cabrera likely would be dealt.

He thought the Tigers could handle any Cabrera-caliber salary. But did the Tigers have the means to out-bid other clubs and win a trade sweepstakes for a 24-year-old hitter of Cabrera's supernatural skills?

The Tigers began working their back channels. They needed to know if they made a trade offer, they would not merely be renting Cabrera ahead of free agency. They had to be investing for the long term.

Cabrera knew all about the Tigers. He knew his old bosses with the Marlins, Dombrowski and Al Avila, the man who signed him out of Venezuela, were running an American League contender that a year earlier had played in the World Series.

He would have no problem in Detroit.

But the Tigers were only one of several name teams interested in Cabrera, who had been told by the Marlins ahead of the winter meetings he would be traded. The Angels would be a difficult bidder to beat.

From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20130401/SPORTS0104/304010306#ixzz2PDn5kVEX