According to Jon Morosi of FOXSports.com, the Detroit Tigers have acquired 30-year old utility man Omar Infante, who played in Detroit for six years from 2002 to 2007, and 28-year-old right-handed starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez from the struggling Miami Marlins.
The Tigers are reportedly (also per Jon Morosi) sending top prospect Jacob Turner to Miami as part of the deal. Peter Gammons adds that Triple-A Toledo Mud Hens catcher Rob Brantly and Double-A Erie SeaWolves left-handed starter Brian Flynn are also headed to the Marlins, along with a compensatory draft pick. Miami will kick back a competitive balance draft pick. Bob Nightengale of USA Today says this deal had been in the works for weeks.
Detroit was said to have had scouts at PNC Park in Pittsburgh on Sunday as Sanchez struck out eight Pirates and walked none over seven frames but took a 3-0 loss. The Venezuelan, who threw a no-hitter in September of 2006, his rookie year, is making $8 million this year and is set to become a free agent in the off-season. Having started just a day ago, he would likely make his Detroit debut at the Rogers Centre in Toronto this weekend.
Infante, meanwhile, is signed to make $4 million this year and is under contract for the same amount in 2013. He could represent the semi-long-term end of the Tigers’ second base plagues. Detroit second basemen have combined to hit .201 so far this season, giving the team the worst production from the middle infield spot of any American League team. Given his decent speed (ten steals) and low walk-rate (12 in 347 plate appearances), he seems a logical candidate to bat ninth in the Tigers’ batting order. With Quintin Berry hitting second, Detroit could have significant speed in a third of their lineup.
On Motor City Bengals’ pre-season collaborative list of the top 50 prospects in the Tigers’ system, John Verburg and James Chipman ranked Turner, Brantly, and Flynn at first, eighth, and 25th respectively. Baseball America ranked Turner and Brantly first and seventh respectively.
Detroit traded out of surplus by including Brantly, as they retain 2011 second round draft pick James McCann, who is currently at Erie and was ranked the Tigers’ ninth-best prospect by Baseball America before this season.
If no more major league players than so far reported are set to depart from Detroit, Danny Worth is the easy choice for demotion to make room for Infante. Worth, who is riding a hot streak of sorts but has garnered little playing time regardless, can still be optioned without passing through waivers. Sanchez will slide into Turner’s rotation slot, meaning Drew Smyly‘s time as a major leaguer may well be over for this year, even once he’s healthy enough to come off the 15-day disabled list, where he currently sits as a result of a right intercostal strain. Smyly has started 15 major league games and the results, a 4-3 record and a 4.42 earned run average, have been a pleasant surprise.
A key for the Tigers in this deal is that they held onto Nick Castellanos, who is now indisputably their top prospect. On top of that, it’s pretty apparent that, as a result of this transaction, Detroit will be a much-improved team for the coming playoff race and, hopefully, well into October.
Josh Slagter of MLive.com speculated in an article this morning that a deal could be swung involving both Sanchez and Infante. When our John Verburg profiled Infante as a trade target a week ago today, he wondered whether a straight up, one-for-one trade for him might cost Brantly.