In developments that can only be described as shocking, the Tigers executed a last-minute trade for pitcher David Price, sending Austin Jackson to Seattle and Drew Smyly to Tampa. (Seattle also sent Nick Franklin to Tampa.) The trade was finalized while Detroit was in the middle of a game both Smyly and Jackson had started, and Jackson had to be pulled off the field when the deal was done.
Whatever I wrote about the Soria trade a week ago in terms of price is irrelevant today. I don’t want to overstate what Jackson has meant and what Smyly has and could have meant to the Tigers, but suffice it to say: they are not mere prospects. They are two regular, MLB-level starters.
Price, of course, is a top-level starting pitcher, and (like Smyly) a lefty to boot. The Vanderbilt graduate is a Cy Young winner and easily was the best starting pitcher even potentially available at the trade deadline. His one weakness may be his susceptibility to home runs, but he makes up for that with superior abilities in every other area.
I wrote just a few hours ago that the Tigers should consider trading for offense, while conceding that more bullpen help probably made more sense. Price addresses neither of these concerns. The Price acquisition begins to make some sense, though, when seen as a reaction to the failed offseason efforts to retain Max Scherzer. Max is very likely to be wearing a different uniform next season, and Price is his replacement.
Because of the way the series are structured, fewer starting pitchers are needed in the playoffs. One of the nice things about Smyly was that, even as the team was developing him as a starter, he could easily transition back into a shutdown southpaw out of the bullpen in the postseason. Soria ought to address that somewhat, although all he’s done in two outings with his new team is have the two worst outings of his career. Soria’s a righty, though, and the only two left-handed members of the Tiger bullpen remain the objectively bad Phil Coke and Ian Krol.
Anyway, here’s a look at the new Detroit starting rotation:
- Max Scherzer
- David Price
- Anibal Sanchez
- Rick Porcello
- Justin Verlander
Whatever the above frittering amounts to, the starting rotation obviously is going to be just fine. The team now has a big hole in center field, though, and in critical postseason games played in spacious Comerica Park and the Oakland Coliseum, that could spell trouble.
The trade for Price makes sense, to the extent it does, for next year. A trade for an outfield bat or a lefty reliever would have made sense for this year.
Farewell to Jackson and Smyly.
Where are the Bats? – 7/31
Detroit finds relief, but at what price? – 7/24
Closing Time? – 6/4
Closing the Book on 2013 – 6/2
Victor Martinez, Professional Hitter – 5/7
Actually Mad Max – 4/29
Waiting for Takeoff – 4/28
Farewell, sweet Prince