WHEW!! How’s that for a Tiger-less Monday wake up call? The Detroit Tigers have acquired 2B Omar Infante and RHP Anibal Sanchez from the Miami Marlins for RHP Jacob Turner, C Rob Brantly, and LHP Brian Flynn. The clubs also reportedly swapped comp picks, meaning the Tigers move up substantially in draft position for the 2013 Draft.
At first glace, it seems like a traditional prospects-for-players swap. And essentially, it is. I’m a big fan of this deal for several reasons:
1) 2B upgrade. It’s been beat to death by fans, media, twitter-ers, etc, that the Tigers really haven’t had a competent 2nd Basemen since Polanco left Infante, this season, is hitting .287/.312/442/.754 with 8 HR, 33 RBI, 42 R, 12 BB, 42 K, and 10 SB. Now that’s not exactly Chase Utley in his prime, but make no mistake about it, this is a SIGNIFICANT upgrade over the Santiago/Raburn/Worth revolving door that we’ve seen all season. Not to mention that Infante is a better defender than all of them. I have to think that Leyland will slide him into the 2-hole in the lineup in front of Cabrera.
2) Anchoring the Rotation. Sanchez isn’t the Cole Hamels or Felix Martinez that some fans were clamoring for, but he is a great pick up nonetheless. His acquisition makes the rotation look like this: 1) Verlander, 2) Fister, 3) Scherzer, 4) Sanchez, 5) Porcello. While people have complained and bemoaned Rick Porcello’s performance this season, when you look at his numbers as a 5th STARTER (!!!!) they are easily digestible No more 5th starter revolving door of Smyly/Turner/Crosby/Below. And while I feel that Smyly will eventually be a solid 3-4 starter in the majors, he simply was not ready to help us in the rotation down the stretch, consistently.
3) We didn’t trade Nick Castellanos. Yeah, yeah, prospects are made to be traded. I agree with this sentiment for the most part, but when you have a full-on stud in the minor leagues, you damned well better be getting a star in return. Neither Sanchez or Infante are stars, so I’m happy that Dombrowski was able to significantly upgrade the team without parting ways with Castellanos.
4) Bullpen upgrade? This is just a thought, but when Smyly is healthy, does he go to the bullpen to fill a LR role that has been occupied by Luis Marte/Darrin Downs? Smyly consistently was effective the 1st/2nd times through the order when he started, so why not let him stick with the Tigers in a bullpen role?
Admittedly, I’m no scout, and I’m sure that our editor John Verburg will be able to shed some more light on the players we gave up, but I’ll give my thoughts on them anyways
1) Jacob Turner. The (other) prized jewel of the Tigers’ farm system. Has had some lumps in his short major league time, but people are forgetting that he’s only 21. He looks like a future 2-3 starter to me, and to be honest I see a lot of Rick Porcello in him. He’s most effective when he gets his 2 seam fastball (sinker) down in the zone at 92-94, inducing groundballs. I see more swing-and-miss potential from him when compared to Porcello, but right now Porcello has more fastball command, obviously. People will act like we just gave up Verlander, but in reality, in a PERFECT WORLD, Turner would have developed into the #2 behind Verlander. So yes, he’s potentially a big loss, but one I am OK with losing.
2) Rob Brantly-C. LHH catchers with power potential don’t grow on trees (see Avila, Alex). Undoubtedly our best catching prospect, and probably our #2 positional prospect behind Castellanos, Brantly was on the fast track to a Sept. call up and potential big league spot in 2013. He showcased his quick hands and line-drive swing in the Future’s Game by doubling in the gap. He also threw out a runner trying to steal. Some had talked about Brantly moving to LF due to the Tigers already having a young, LHH all-star catcher on the roster, but obviously this trade nullifies that talk. Brantly had run into a rough stretch in AAA recently, but I went and saw him play in Toledo a few weeks ago, and he looked the part of a future major-league C to me. Quick hands, short swing, good mechanics behind the plate and a strong arm all add up to a very good prospect, and one that I am hesitant to lose. But, as I said, we have Avila (barring injury), as well as several other solid catching prospects in the minors (Casali, Holaday, McCann notably).
3) Brian Flynn-LHP. 6’9″, 240 Big boy. Has been a starter in his career, and was recently promoted to AA after having some success at A and A+. He always looked to me more as a MR/LOOGY-type guy, seeing as his fastball velo would drop from 92-93 to 88-89 after a few innings (thanks to Jordan Gorosh for that). Some major league upside, but not a big loss.
In closing, I’m pleased with this deal. I think it solidifies the AL Central title for us, and makes us AL pennant contenders. The way this team has been rolling lately, coupled with this trade and the eventual return of Andy Dirks makes this Tigers team a scary one, with extreme potential.
As always, feel free to follow me on twitter @B_Sakowski or @TigersProspects to interact