All I’ve heard since the Red Sox eliminated the Tigers last year in the ALCS is that Tigers President/GM Dave Dombrowski has to win it all this year. I kept hearing fans and media say, “This team’s window is closing.” I also consistently heard that this team needed more balance in its starting rotation. In other words, it needed an effective lefty starter.
We knew the team’s bullpen was suspect so in the off-season Dombrowski signed one of the best closers in the game, a reliable set-up man and he traded for a young hard-throwing left handed reliever. In the process though, he moved one of the more likeable and reliable starters in Doug Fister, who has been one of the primary reasons why Washington is leading the NL East. That has now been answered with Thursday’s trade deadline deal that brings David Price from Tampa.
It really has been an incredible week for Dombrowski and the Tigers. Last Wednesday, they traded a pair of pitching prospects to the Rangers for the best available bullpen arm in Joakim Soria. Then, in need of another arm, or to counteract what Oakland did when adding Jon Lester, Dombrowski pulled a bold move to welcome in one of the best left handed starters in the American League (I rate him second to Chris Sale). Dombrowski proves again he’s NOT afraid to live in the here and now and shows the courage needed to make a deal that he feels would push his club over the top.
Price gives the Tigers a second “ace” to go with Max Scherzer and a post season rotation of Scherzer, Price, Anibal Sanchez, and Justin Verlander-the best in baseball. It will mean Rick Porcello will be asked to accept a long relief role in the playoffs. Price gives them a power arm, who leads the league in strikeouts. He’s durable: making a league best 23 starts. He’s effective: teams are batting just .238 against him and he recently said, “I’ve never been as good as I am right now, not in 2012, not in college, not in high school. This is the best pitcher I’ve ever been.” By all accounts he’s also a high character guy. Maybe most importantly, he’ll be a Tiger next year (arbitration eligible), which gives the Tigers some insurance in case Scherzer leaves via free agency.
The price (no pun intended) was rather steep, but that was to be expected. The Tigers acquired a former Cy Young award winner and one of the best southpaws in baseball-had to give up something substantial. Austin Jackson, Drew Smyly, and Will Adames-a highly thought of minor leaguer-are no longer part of the organization. They get new starts elsewhere and it’s tough to say goodbye.
Jackson has been much maligned here. Most were less than satisfied with his offensive inconsistency, although he’s been really good since June, but his defense was above average and he was a really good team mate. Smyly is talented and versatile, but he’s a backend of the rotation guy and he was expendable. Adames was ascending quickly, but he’s 18 and has a long way to go before he starts taking grounders at shortstop in the big leagues. This is an absolute WINNER deal for the Tigers in every way-now and for next year as well. How they went about getting better may not please everyone, but all that matters is that this team is in a strong position to win it all. Afterall, that’s what everyone has been preaching, “go for it.”
As Dombrowski said Thursday after the deal, “The Tigers have to win, that what it comes down to.” True, but that’s what has been expected since last October.
Matt Shepard is the play-by-play voice of University of Michigan basketball, Eastern Michigan University football and the Detroit Lions television network. He can also be found on TV locally on Fox Sports Detroit and nationally on the Big Ten Network for college hockey and baseball.Learn more.