Max Scherzer Deal – The Art of the Steal?

April 30, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Max Scherzer (37) in the dugout before the game against the Minnesota Twins at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

With Max Scherzersporting a 6-0 record, and fresh off sitting down 22 Tribesmen in succession, it is a good time to look back and remember just how Mad Max made his way to Motown.

On December 8, 2009, Dave Dombrowski shipped Curtis Granderson to the New York Yankees, and sent starting pitcher Edwin Jackson to the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Yankees returned Austin Jackson and Phil Coke, while the D-Backs replied with Scherzer and left-handed reliever Daniel Schlereth. To complete the three-way deal, Yankee starter Ian Kennedy headed west to Arizona.

This is an interesting trade to evaluate 3+ seasons hence, as each team has received quality production at some point from all of the players involved. Let’s look at highlights/lowlights for each player:

  • Ian Kennedy – Went 21-4 in 2011, finishing 4th in the Cy Young  Award voting and leading Kirk Gibson‘s squad to the NL West championship. That season looks like an outlier, however; his ERA with the D-Backs hovers around 4.00; of his career 9.7 WAR, 4.8 were accumulated in 2011.
  • Edwin Jackson – Posted his best statistical season for Detroit in 2009 and made the AL All-Star team; his career highlight came for the D-Backs in 2010, pitching a no-hitter against one of his former teams, the Rays, firing 149 pitches in the process. Only 29 years old, he has toiled for the White Sox, Cardinals, Nationals and now the Cubs since leaving Arizona after 2010.
  • Curtis Granderson – Found the short porch at the new Yankee Stadium to his liking – back-to-back 40+ HR seasons in 2011 and 2012, while leading the league in runs and RBI’s in 2011. Batting average has dropped 25 points since leaving spacious Comerica Park, from .272 to .247, while his slugging pct. has only increased 21 points.
  • Daniel Schlereth – Showed some promise as a lefty specialist out of the bullpen in 2010, but could not throw enough strikes to stay on the big-league roster. Currently hurling for the Norfolk Tides of the International League with typically mixed results – a 2-0 record and 0.93 ERA, but 8 walks in 9 innings vs. only 6 K’s.
  • Austin Jackson  - Runner-up for Rookie of the Year in 2010, has combined remarkable defensive skills with marked improvement at the plate. Targeted as a candidate for regression based on his BAbip of .367, his OPS+ of 129 exceeded Granderson’s 117 in 2012.
  • Phil Coke – Turned in his best performance during the 2012 postseason, saving two games in the LCS vs. New York. After an abbreviated stint as a starter in 2011, has settled into bullpen role, but struggles against right-handed batters.
  • Max Scherzer – Finished 2nd to Justin Verlander in the AL with 231 K’s last season, and averages over a strikeout per inning over his 6-year career. The 28-year old righty is off to a 6-0 start this year with a stellar WHIP of 0.91.
It is fair to say that all three teams feel pretty good about what they garnered in the swap.  Each player has contributed to a division-winning squad, and with the exception of Schlereth, they all continue to perform well at the major-league level.
By sheer volume, we can declare Detroit the winner in this deal, as 4 years after they have three useful ballplayers still on the club. Considering the age and statistical ascension of both AJax and Max, the outlook is even rosier. Anything Coke provides is gravy.
No, it wasn’t the Lufthansa heist, or even Placido Polanco for Ugueth Urbina (old-timers, feel free to recall Norm Cash for Steve Demeter). But trading two All-Stars in their prime, for four promising but unproven players, constitutes an incredible combination of acumen, cojones, and luck. On behalf of Tiger fans, thank you, Mr. Dombrowski.

 

Topics: Detroit Tigers, Max Scherzer

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  • Matt Pelc

    I was SO upset when this trade was made, basically because the Tigers marketing department used the slogan “Whos your Tiger” at the time and they traded “my Tiger.” I thought he had a good career ahead of him. AJax out performed him that first year–mainly because of Grandys injuries that year. Then 2011 was a terrible year for Austin and Grandy went out of his mind. Last year, particularly in the playoffs that portion of the trade seemed to tip back in the Tigers’ favor.

    I used to write sports game previews and would write a lot on D-Backs games and knew that Max was a rising star. Though I was so upset about Granderson, I was a little excited they got Max on his way up. He’s come a long way, I remember being worried when he was starting in the 2011 ALDS in Yankee Stadium because of his knack of allowing the long ball, but he was great in that postseason, good last year, great last postseason and terrific this year.

  • http://tomaroonandgold.blogspot.com Matt Snyder

    Production-wise, the Tigers probably already have gotten the best of this deal, but when you factor in that none of these guys (Jackson, Scherzer, etc.) have made “real” money yet, it’s not even close. Turned out to be steal by the Tigers.

    And to think that 2-3 years ago there was lots of talk about Dombrowski being bad at trades!

    Cabrera (et al.) for Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller (et al.)
    Scherzer and Jackson for Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson
    Doug Fister for Casper Wells, Chance Ruffin, and Francisco Martinez
    Sanchez and Infante for Rob Brantly and Jacob Turner — (?)

  • YODA777

    I believe Arizona went on to deal Edwin Jackson to the White Sox and got a very good young pitcher named Hudson.

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