Charlie Wilmoth at MLBtraderumors has put together a list (and a poll) of the most lopsided trades in recent baseball history. If you haven’t already, I’d recommend checking it out (and voting) HERE.
There is one important thing that I would like to point out about that list: nowhere on it will you find the Tigers being burned. All of those trades involve somebody getting burned (that’s why they’re on the list) but the only one involving the Tigers at all is Detroit’s acquisition of Carlos Guillen for the low-low price of a Ramon Santiago. We often hear from fans, etc… about the awful, awful trades that Dave Dombrowski has made and how the ones that went well probably don’t even compensate. This should be a reminder that every team makes some trades – usually involving prospects (since they are the riskiest commodity) – that they wind up regretting.
The biggest black mark on Dombrowski’s record – sending Jair Jurrjens to Atlanta prior to the 2008 season – doesn’t even make the list… and I don’t think that is an oversight. The competition is deals like the one that sent Adrian Gonzalez and Chris Young to San Diego for nobody particularly important. Or the one that sent Shin-Soo Choo to Cleveland for Ben Broussard. Or the one that sent Brandon Phillips to Cincinnati for somebody you’ve never heard of. Jair Jurrjens (and a friend) for Edgar Renteria might possibly be worthy of an honorable mention on that list. I’m not even sure of that… Jurrjens has added 10.2 WAR in 5 years for the Braves – the equivalent of an average starter, not an ace. Renteria added 1.3 WAR in his one season in Detroit and a further 2.6 in San Fran and Cincy since – which ain’t great but ain’t nothing either. Phillips has added 27.9 wins for the Reds, the guy that the Indians got for him never made it to the bigs with Cleveland and has a negative career WAR total since with other organizations. Catcher Robinzon Diaz gave the Pirates 0.1 WAR in 41 games in 2009 (and nothing after) – and they got him at a cost of 20.4 WAR from Jose Bautista. The awful Renteria trade really isn’t close to those…
And lets not forget that the Tigers would also likely be involved on the plus side of a few more lopsided deals of the past decade. Placido Polanco for Ramon Martinez and Ugueth Urbina? Martinez and Urbina sum to negative WAR – Polanco gave the Tigers 12.7. Miguel Cabrera alone has given the Tigers 28.7 wins and counting since he was dealt by the Marlins, and while not all of the prospects they sent over have flopped their total contributions have not been so large. The list of trades is (and should be) biased towards less recent ones since those have allowed time for prospects to flop and WAR to accumulate – but the Fister deal (currently 5.6 WAR for and 1.7 WAR against) is looking, at this point, like a 4-win per season starter for a decent LOOGY and a decent 4th outfielder. The Peralta deal has added 5 wins so far at a cost of nothing. As far as front office flaws, I think we can all agree that we’d like to have seen more first round picks (period) and more top picks making the majors (Sleeth, Baugh, etc…) but the Tigers have been one of the best at trading-for-profit over the past decade.