Detroit Tigers Rumors
The latest out of baseball's Central divisions...
- Pirates closer Jason Grilli told ESPN's Buster Olney (Insider required) that he wouldn't trade his past trials and tribulations in his career because they've made his new role that much sweeter. Grilli relishes the chance to be "The Guy" at the end of games, and he was encouraged last season by then-teammate Joel Hanrahan telling him, "Grilli, you can definitely do this."
- Cubs manager Dale Sveum recently said he'd be lying if the team's early struggles didn't have him thinking about his job security, but GM Jed Hoyer told ESPN's Jesse Rogers that Sveum's job is secure. "[Job security] shouldn't be what he's thinking about in the least," Hoyer told Rogers in voicing his support.
- Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski addressed reporters regarding Jose Valverde yesterday (video link), noting that a 40-man roster move is on the horizon to get Valverde on the club. Dombrowski said he's pleased to have Valverde back in the fold and that no Triple-A time was necessary given his track record and how his stuff looked at Class A Lakeland. Valverde is throwing 93-95 mph and is throwing better than he was last season, per Dombrowski.
Reds center fielder Shin-Soo Choo has been hit by an incredible nine pitches already, which, combined with a very discerning eye at the plate, has lead to an MLB-best .523 OBP. SB Nation's Rob Neyer opines that the Reds correctly assessed that the gap between Choo's offense and Drew Stubbs' offense would outweigh the defensive downgrade. While Choo won't keep this pace up, Neyer points out that Reds leadoff men combined for a .254 OBP last season, making the addition of Choo a worthwhile move.
Choo currently ranks third on MLBTR's 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings, and a career-year in terms of OBP would certainly help keep him near the top of that list. Here's more from around the league...
- MLB.com's Lyle Spencer writes that Miguel Cabrera was nearly traded to the Angels prior to the 2007 trade that sent him to the Tigers. Cabrera himself told Spencer that he thought he was being traded to Anaheim. The Angels and Marlins discussed Ervin Santana and Joe Saunders in the deal as well as young infielders Howie Kendrick and Brandon Wood. Ultimately, Cabrera said that he thinks he wound up in Detroit because the Tigers were more willing to take on Dontrelle Willis and his $7MM salary.
- Former Athletics left-hander Dallas Braden implied via Twitter that he could be entertaining a comeback attempt. Braden, now 29 years old, made just three starts in the 2011 season and hasn't pitched since thanks to a pair of shoulder surgeries. Braden famously threw a perfect game against the Rays on May 9, 2010 with his grandmother in attendance.
- The Mariners' offensive woes present the "biggest crisis of the Jack Zduriencik era," writes Larry Stone of the Seattle Times. While he concedes that it's a small sample, Zduriencik made several moves to bolster the lineup this offseason but the Mariners find themselves in 29th place in nearly every offensive category. The collapse of Justin Smoak, Dustin Ackley and Jesus Montero -- who were supposed to be the team's young core -- is a major setback in Zduriencik's blueprint.
Jim Callis of Baseball America presented the assigned bonus pool values for each club's selections over the first ten rounds of the upcoming amateur draft. This breakdown provides additional detail on MLB's allocation of bonus pool money by pick. Here are some American League notes:
- One player off to a happier start to his season is Ervin Santana, who was acquired by the Royals from the Angels after a disappointing 2012. Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star addressed the possibility of an extension for Santana, who will be a free agent after this season. Dutton downplayed that likelihood, reasoning that if Santana keeps throwing well, he will be set up for a large free-agent payday that the Royals probably cannot afford to buy out. If he falters, the Royals likely have more attractive in-house options for their 2014 rotation.
- Dutton also threw cold water on the idea of a deal sending Mike Moustakas and a prospect to the Padres for fellow third baseman Chase Headley. Headley's current and future salary levels are likely too high for the Royals, says Dutton, whereas Moustakas will likely not hit arbitration until 2015.
- The Mariners, like the Royals, hope to join the contending ranks in the immediate future. As Dave Cameron writes for U.S.S. Mariner, the team's efforts should be aided by an increased payroll supported by increased television revenues. The team had an opt out clause in its broadcast licensing deal with ROOT Sports. Instead of simply negotiating another licensing arrangement, the Mariners bought a majority stake in ROOT. The club's ownership of its own regional sports network will allow it effectively to shield TV dollars from MLB's revenue sharing arrangement.
- While next year's free agent market may not present as good a buying opportunity for the M's as in years past, Cameron explores how revenue imbalance will still make its mark. MLB may not permit large cash transfers in trades, but Cameron says that creative extend-and-trade scenarios could effectively allow large revenue clubs to flex their economic muscles.
- The Doug Fister trade may have brought controllable, younger players to Seattle at the time it was completed, but Larry Stone of the Seattle Times agrees with MLBTR's Steve Adams that the deal went sour for the Mariners and GM Jack Zduriencik. Ultimately, while there is still some potential upside to be realized by the M's, it seems likely that the Tigers will remain the winners of that swap.
- Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski, who brought the now-29-year-old Fister to Detroit, commented today on the contract that brought former closer Jose Valverde back in the organization's fold. According to MLB.com's Jason Beck, Dombrowski said that the opt out clause in Valverde's deal can be exercised on May 8. The original date was May 5, as originally reported, but it was moved back due to delays in getting Valverde to extended spring training. The team appears to be in no rush to decide whether to elevate Valverde to the big league club.
The Yankees turned the first 4-6-5-6-5-3-4 triple play in Major League history tonight in the eighth inning of their 5-2 win over the Orioles. Manny Machado was the unlucky Oriole who put the ball into play and he represented the third out while he was caught between first and second base.
Here are some news items from around the majors as we head into the weekend...
- Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski has spoken to an opposing GM about a closer within the last week, Dombrowski told Jim Bowden during an interview on MLB Network Radio (Twitter link).
- The Mets haven't had any internal discussions about offering Matt Harvey an extension, Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal reports, and likely won't do so until after the season at the earliest. Costa hears from a team of business students who project a four- or five-year deal worth $30-$35MM following the 2014 season as a fair possible extension for Harvey, though Costa wonders if Harvey (and agent Scott Boras) would agree to such a contract.
- Jason Isringhausen hasn't officially retired since he is open to pitching again in the right situation, but the veteran reliever tells FOX Sports Midwest's Ben Frederickson that "as of last year, I left on my terms. So, if it never happens again, I'm perfectly happy."
- Now that teams can trade from their pools of international bonus money, Baseball America's Ben Badler looks at which clubs might look to acquire or sell some of their funds this summer.
- In an ESPN Insider piece (subscription required), Jim Bowden discusses why he thinks a Jurickson Profar-for-Oscar Taveras deal would work for both the Rangers and Cardinals. Such a swap would be what Bowden calls a "challenge" trade that can shape a franchise, akin to the one he made as Reds GM in 1992 when he dealt Paul O'Neill to the Yankees for Roberto Kelly. Of course, as Bowden notes, that deal backfired badly for him: "True, that O’Neill-for-Kelly deal will haunt me to my grave, but it was the gutsiest trade I’ve ever made."
- A Profar-for-Taveras deal wouldn't make sense for the Rangers at this time, ESPN Dallas' Richard Durrett opines. Rather than deal for another prospect, Durrett argues Texas could move Profar as part of a package for a proven Major League star like David Price or Giancarlo Stanton. Or, the Rangers could simply keep Profar for themselves and instead move Ian Kinsler to first base or the outfield to make room.
In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that baseball could eventually return to Montreal. While it has always been known as a hockey town, Montreal has been responsible for such great baseball talent as Hall of Famers Andre Dawson and Gary Carter, “Le Grand Orange,” Rusty Staub, Tim Raines, Marquis Grissom, Cliff Floyd, Randy Johnson, Dennis Martinez, Pedro Martinez, Larry Walker, Andres Galarraga, Moises Alou, Vladimir Guerrero, and Tim Wallach. The city is looking into the possibility of giving Expos fans something to cheer about again and they claim that the strength of the Canadian dollar coupled with revenue sharing can help make it work. Here's more from Cafardo..
- Pitcher Bud Norris improved his stock after he beat the Rangers on Opening Day and he should bring the Astros a good haul between now and the trade deadline. One longtime National League adviser believes that the Rangers might be the team to scoop him up.
- After unloading Aaron Harang in yesterday's trade with the Rockies, the Dodgers would still love to find a taker for Ted Lilly, who earns $12MM this year. However, there has been little to no interest in the veteran so far.
- There aren't many people who think that the recently re-signed Jose Valverde can be the Tigers' closer, but could add to their mix in the bullpen. One AL evaluator feels that they have to move and get themselves a proven closer in a hurry.
- Kip Wells, soon to be 36, is available and throwing 93 miles per hour, according to his agent, Burton Rocks. The veteran reliever made seven starts over the summer for the Padres last season.
Red Sox manager John Farrell returned to Toronto tonight and was met with a whole lot of boos when he stepped out on to the field. Blue Jays star Jose Bautista says that he isn't looking to dwell on the past, however, and offered up his take on the manager prior to tonight's game. "We'd rather have [Farrell] there than have him here and wishing he was there. We have a manager who wants to be here," said the slugger, according to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com (on Twitter). Here's more from around baseball..
- The play of Red Sox prospect Jackie Bradley Jr. made the decision to keep him on the big league roster a no-brainer, writes MLB.com's Jason Mastrodonato. Starting Bradley's service time clock early will have financial ramifications down the road, but Boston believes that what he brings to the table makes it worthwhile to put him on the varsity squad.
- Shaun Marcum was the Mets' first major league signing of the offseason, but they're still waiting for him to make his debut, writes Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News. Marcum, who recently spoke to MLBTR about his relationship with agents Rex Gary and Jimmy Turner, inked a one-year, $4MM deal with the Mets this winter.
- Tigers skipper Jim Leyland says that bringing Jose Valverde back to the organization was an easy call, writes George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press. Valverde, 35, posted a 3.78 ERA, 6.3 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, and 0.39 HR/9 in 69 innings last year.
Here are your minor moves for Friday (all links courtesy of Baseball America's Matt Eddy on Twitter)...
- Long-time Orioles farmhand Mike Flacco -- the brother of Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco -- has retired, according to Alex Speier of WEEI.com (Twitter link). The 26-year-old first baseman hit .253/.335/.378 in 353 minor league games. Flacco had been with the High-A Salem Red Sox.
- The Mariners released minor league Rule 5 pick Eric Farris, and the second baseman quickly latched on with the Twins, according to Matt Eddy of Baseball America (on Twitter). The M's plucked Farris off of the Brewers' roster in December.
- The Tigers released defensive wizard Cale Iorg. The shortstop hit just .199/.240/.313 in parts of three seasons at Double-A. MLB.com's Adam McCalvy points out (via Twitter) that Iorg is the son of Brewers first base coach Garth Iorg.
- The Pirates acquired catcher Troy Snitker from the Braves in a trade. The 24-year-old was taken by Atlanta in the 19th round of the 2011 draft and has spent the bulk of the last two seasons in rookie ball.
- Also within that link, Eddy reports that the Phillies acquired shortstop Jose Mojica from theYankees. Mojica hit just .226/.265/.305 for the Bombers' Advanced-A affiliate in 2012.
- The Braves released Dimasther Delgado, who appeared on three organization top 30 lists. The 24-year-old left-hander has a 3.93 ERA with 6.3 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 in two years of Advanced-A ball.
- The Rays have released right-hander Jason McEachern, who was a 13th-round selection in the 2008 draft. Eddy notes that McEachern was a projectable high school arm that made it to Class-A but never took a step forward in his fastball velocity. The 22-year-old has a 4.96 ERA in 201 Class-A innings.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
Baseball America has released this useful chart showing where each of baseball's 100 best prospects is currently playing. Elsewhere around baseball:
- Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski says the club's deal with Jose Valverde does not include a Major League side, reports Jason Beck of MLB.com. Dombrowski acknowledged that he "talked extensively" with Valverde agent Scott Boras "throughout the last couple months" about the Tigers' former closer, in spite of reports that the Tigers were not interested. The team decided that the deal was beneficial because "if this makes us the best team, then, great, and if it doesn't, then we don't have any commitments."
- The Rays organization is fully stocked with major league ready talent after its offseason moves, writes Bill Chastain of MLB.com. Manager Joe Maddon says that the club "sent some Major League players back to Triple-A this time," which is "not so good for them and good for us." In particular, Chastain cites players such as pitchers Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, and Alex Colome, along with hitters Wil Myers and Tim Beckham, as ready to step in on the MLB level. According to Maddon, "if anything were to happen, we have the guys in tow."
- White Sox outfielder Dayan Viciedo, another Boras client, appears content to sit back and let his agent decide whether or not to seek an extension, writes Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. Viciedo says he has already been "very privileged" to have signed a four-year, $10MM deal as an international free agent from Cuba. The 24-year-old will reach arbitration eligibility in 2015, unless he qualifies for Super Two status.
- Both the Mariners and Yankees made bad decisions relating to a player named Wells, writes ESPN.com's Dave Szymborski (insider sub. req'd). Szymborski opines that Seattle's decision to go with Jason Bay over Casper Wells and New York's acquisition of Vernon Wells are among the worst moves of the spring.
Tigers director of media relations Brian Britten tweets that the team has claimed right-hander Evan Reed off waivers from the Marlins and optioned him to Triple-A Toledo. As MLB.com's Jason Beck points out, the Tigers' 40-man roster is full after claiming Reed (Twitter link).
The 27-year-old Reed was a third-round pick by the Rangers in the 2007 draft. He split last season between Double-A and Triple-A in the Marlins organization, pitching to a 4.68 ERA, 9.4 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in 50 relief appearances (67 1/3 innings). Reed ranked 24th among Marlins prospects prior to the 2012 season, according to Baseball America, but dropped out of the team's Top 30 for this year's edition.
Reed was among four players designated for assignment by the Marlins last week.
The Tigers opened the 2011 season with a rotation that consisted of Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello, Phil Coke and Brad Penny. With the non-Verlanders of that group (particularly Coke and Penny) underperforming, the team sought help for the back end of the rotation in July.
They got that help by acquiring Doug Fister (and reliever David Pauley) from the Mariners in exchange for four players: 20-year-old third baseman Francisco Martinez, 26-year-old outfielder Casper Wells, 25-year-old southpaw Charlie Furbush and a player to be named later that would be 22-year-old right-hander Chance Ruffin.
It's hard to believe that the Tigers, Mariners or even Fister himself were prepared for the results of this trade, so let's look at it on a player-by-player level...
The Major League Side
- Doug Fister: Fister was 27 at the time of the trade and had less than two years of Major League service time. He'd been solid but not spectacular in his brief career, as he was the owner of a 3.81 ERA, 5.2 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 in 378 innings for the Mariners. He was in the midst of his best season when he was dealt, having pitched to a 3.33 ERA in 146 1/3 innings. Fister channeled his inner Greg Maddux upon arriving in Detroit though, allowing just 14 earned runs with a 57-to-5 K/BB ratio in 70 1/3 innings for the AL Central champs. He's significantly upped his strikeout rate in Detroit, and all told he's given them 232 innings of 2.95 ERA ball with a 7.5 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9. Fangraphs pegs Fister's tenure in Detroit at a whopping 5.8 wins above replacement. He's under control for another three seasons and is set to earn $4MM this year after being eligible for arbitration for the first time this past winter.
- David Pauley: Pauley is perhaps the forgotten man in this trade, although there's probably a reason for that. The right-hander threw just 19 2/3 innings for the Tigers after the trade, allowing 10 runs on 26 hits and six walks with just 10 strikeouts. Pauley was ulimately released by the Tigers the following spring and appeared in just 16 2/3 innings for the Angels and Blue Jays last year.
- Charlie Furbush: Furbush floundered in Seattle's rotation in 2011, posting a 6.62 ERA in 10 starts. He thrived when moved to a bullpen role in 2012, however, thanks in large part to trading his curveball-changeup mix for a devastating slider to complement his heater. A triceps strain cost him a month of action last season, but when he was healthy he dominated lefties (.404 OPS) and held right-handed hitters in check as well (.637 OPS). Furbush can be a key bullpen piece in Seattle for a long time; he's not eligible for arbitration until the 2014-15 offseason, and he's under team control through 2017.
- Casper Wells: Wells brought a good amount of power and some excellent defense to the Mariners. He clubbed 17 homers in addition to a .225/.304/.406 batting line (102 OPS+) and was eight runs above average in 893 innings for Seattle, per The Fielding Bible. Wells is capable of handling all three outfield positions, but the Mariners made the questionable decision to designate him for assignment last week to give Jason Bay a chance.
The Prospect Side
- Francisco Martinez: Martinez was ranked as the Tigers' No. 4 prospect heading into the 2011 season, per Baseball America. He had reached Double-A at just 20 years of age -- a rare feat that was a testament to the "live-bodied, athletic" label that BA slapped on him. He hit .310/.326/.481 for the Mariners' Double-A affiliate in 2011 following the trade, prompting BA to rank him as the team's No. 6 prospect entering 2012. BA praised his bat speed, stating that he "all the raw tools to fit the profile of an everyday third baseman, with the added bonus of plus speed." Martinez took a huge step backward in 2012, however, hitting just .227/.315/.295 in his second Double-A stint. He's dropped to No. 22 on BA's list of Top 30 Mariners prospects and No. 19 according to MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo. The Mariners tried Martinez in center field for 15 games in 2012 because of his plus speed, and Mayo notes that he'll play there exclusively in 2013. Mayo also points out that despite Martinez's struggles in 2012, he did improve his plate discipline -- an area in which he'd previously struggled. He'll repeat Double-A in 2013, which isn't as grim as it sounds when considering he just turned 22 in September.
- Chance Ruffin: Ruffin had to be included as a PTBNL because he had been selected by the Tigers in the 2010 draft (48th overall). He had entered the 2011 season as the Tigers' No. 7 prospect, per BA, and he carried the same designation with the Mariners into the 2012 season. Ruffin actually pitched 14 innings for Seattle in 2011 (3.86 ERA, 15-to-9 K/BB ratio) but reported to Triple-A in 2012. The results were ugly. The Texas alum posted a gruesome 5.99 ERA in 70 2/3 innings and saw his K/9 plummet from 11.1 to 6.9, while his BB/9 increased to 4.5. The brutal season was enough to drop him off Mayo's Top 20 list and knock him back to 27th on BA's Top 30 entering the 2013 season. BA cites erosion of his solid command in college and inconsitent mechanics as the reason for his downfall: "He lands on a stiff front leg and throws across his body, hurting his ability to locate his pitches where he wants. His long arm swing in the back and lower release point make it easy for lefthanders to pick up his pitches, and they hit .294/.348/.516 against him last year." The good news is that BA still likes his stuff, praising a 90-93 mph fastball that can touch 95 mph when needed and a plus slider with late break, which BA calls a true out pitch.
It's easy to see why the Tigers look like big winners in this trade, as the two key pieces of the deal for the Mariners have both taken large steps backward in their development. However, Martinez won't be 23 until September -- the same month in which Ruffin will turn 25 -- and the team does seem to have a solid bullpen piece already at the Major League level in Furbush. Martinez won't be at such a large age disadvantage in the Southern League this year, which could benefit his numbers. Ruffin will also open the season at Double-A as the Mariners plan to convert him to a starting pitcher (hat tip: Ryan Divish of the Tacoma News Tribune).
At the time of the trade, ESPN's Keith Law wrote that the Mariners did well to acquire such a strong package for Fister and Pauley, but clearly the scales have tipped in Detroit's favor. A rebound from Martinez or successful to transition to starting for Ruffin would make this trade look fair, but even if that happens I doubt you'll ever hear the Tigers or their fans complaining about the Doug Fister trade.
Baseball America's 2013 Prospect Handbook was used in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.