The Tigers used "draft pick currency" in acquiring Miguel Cabrera from the Marlins in 2007 using '05 first-round pick Cameron Maybin and '06 first rounder Andrew Miller, agent Scott Boras noted in January. Boras feels that the Tigers were ahead of the curve in that regard. Let's take a look at other first-round picks who were dealt within approximately three years of being drafted in recent years.
- November 2007: Twins trade 2005 first-rounder Matt Garza with Eduardo Morlan and Jason Bartlett to Rays for Delmon Young, Brendan Harris and Jason Pridie. GM: Bill Smith.
- January 2008: Braves trade 2005 first-rounder Joey Devine with Jamie Richmond to the Athletics for Mark Kotsay. GM: Frank Wren.
- July 2008: Red Sox trade 2005 first-rounder Craig Hansen and Brandon Moss to Pirates, Dodgers sent 2006 first-rounder Bryan Morris and Andy LaRoche to Pirates, Red Sox sent Manny Ramirez to Dodgers, Pirates sent Jason Bay to Red Sox. GMs: Theo Epstein, Ned Colletti.
- July 2008: Phillies trade 2006 first-rounder Adrian Cardenas, Josh Outman, and Matthew Spencer to Athletics for Joe Blanton. GM: Pat Gillick.
- July 2008: Brewers trade 2007 first-rounder Matt LaPorta, Michael Brantley, Rob Bryson, and Zach Jackson to Indians for C.C. Sabathia. GM: Doug Melvin.
- June 2009: Cardinals trade 2006 first-rounder Chris Perez and Jess Todd to Indians for Mark DeRosa. GM: John Mozeliak.
- July 2009: Giants trade 2007 first-rounder Tim Alderson to Pirates for Freddy Sanchez. GM: Brian Sabean.
- July 2009: Red Sox trade 2007 first-rounder Nick Hagadone, 2008 first-rounder Bryan Price, and Justin Masterson to Indians for Victor Martinez. GM: Theo Epstein.
- July 2009: Cardinals trade 2008 first-rounder Brett Wallace, Shane Peterson, and Clayton Mortensen to Athletics for Matt Holliday. The A's traded Wallace several months later, and then the Blue Jays traded him in July 2010.
- July 2009: White Sox trade 2007 first rounder Aaron Poreda, Clayton Richard, Adam Russell, and Dexter Carter for Jake Peavy. GM: Kenny Williams.
- December 2009: Mariners trade 2006 first-rounder Brandon Morrow to Blue Jays for Johermyn Chavez and Brandon League. GM: Jack Zduriencik.
- December 2009: Diamondbacks trade 2006 first-rounder Max Scherzer and 2008 first-rounder Daniel Schlereth to Tigers, Tigers sent Curtis Granderson to Yankees, Tigers sent Edwin Jackson to Diamondbacks, Yankees sent Phil Coke and Austin Jackson to Tigers, Yankees sent 2006 first-rounder Ian Kennedy to Diamondbacks. GMs: Josh Byrnes, Brian Cashman.
- December 2009: Phillies trade 2006 first-rounder Kyle Drabek, 2007 first-rounder Travis d'Arnaud, and Michael Taylor to Blue Jays for Roy Halladay and cash. GM: Ruben Amaro, Jr.
- December 2009: Mariners trade 2007 first-rounder Phillippe Aumont, J.C. Ramirez, and Tyson Gillies to Phillies for Cliff Lee. GM: Jack Zduriencik.
- July 2010: Rangers trade 2007 first-rounder Michael Main and Chris Ray to Giants for Bengie Molina. GM: Jon Daniels.
- July 2010: Rangers trade 2008 first-rounder Justin Smoak, 2007 first-rounder Blake Beavan, Matthew Lawson, and Josh Lueke to Mariners for Cliff Lee, Mark Lowe, and cash. GM: Jon Daniels.
- December 2011: Reds trade 2008 first-rounder Yonder Alonso, 2010 first rounder Yasmani Grandal, Edinson Volquez, and 2009 first-rounder Brad Boxberger to Padres for Mat Latos. GM: Walt Jocketty.
- December 2010: Brewers trade 2008 first-rounder Brett Lawrie to Blue Jays for Shaun Marcum. GM: Doug Melvin.
- December 2010: Red Sox trade 2008 first-rounder Casey Kelly, 2009 first rounder Reymond Fuentes, Anthony Rizzo, and Eric Patterson to Padres for Adrian Gonzalez. GM: Theo Epstein.
- July 2011: Tigers trade 2010 first-rounder Chance Ruffin, Francisco Martinez, Charlie Furbush, and Casper Wells to Mariners for Doug Fister and David Pauley. GM: Dave Dombrowski.
- July 2011: Indians trade 2010 first-rounder Drew Pomeranz, Alex White, Joseph Gardner, and Matt McBride to Rockies for Ubaldo Jimenez. GM: Chris Antonetti.
- July 2011: Giants trade 2009 first rounder Zack Wheeler to Mets for Carlos Beltran. GM: Brian Sabean.
Bottom line: if the Cubs reach a point of contending under Epstein, recent first-round picks should keep their bags packed. Melvin, Sabean, and the Phillies' brass have been aggressive in trading first-round picks. Zduriencik moved a couple of first-rounders when the Mariners were closer to contention, although they were not his draft picks.
As for literal draft pick currency, 13 teams are eligible for the first competitive balance draft pick lottery this year. The picks given for this lottery can be traded, but only once by a team, only during the regular season, and not for cash.