Deal Helps Right Now, but Including Francisco Martinez Could Hurt Long Term


Unless you’ve been enjoying the outdoors on this beautiful Michigan afternoon, you know that the Tigers epic quest for a starter has finally come to an end.

The Tigers have acquired tough-luck starter Doug Fister and reliever David Pauley from the Seattle Mariners.  Acquiring a middle of the rotation starter like Fister is fine and Pauley–in the middle of a good season–definitely helps the teams.  In fact, with this deal the Tigers may have firmly cemented themselves as the favorites in the AL Central.  Making the deal even better is the fact the Tigers didn’t have to give up Nick Castellanos, Andrew Oliver or minor-league prize, Jacob Turner, who is making his major league debut against the Angels today.

But don’t get too excited about this deal just yet.  The Tigers gave up a lot of talent to the Mariners for an above-average starter and a journeyman reliever.  Gone in the deal is pitcher Charlie Furbush, outfielder Casper Wells and AA third baseman Francisco Martinez, who may end up being the prize of the deal.  We all know that Furbush can pitch and could very well end up being as good as Fister one day.  Despite a couple of poor starts, he’s pitched very well out of the bullpen for the Tigers.  He’s a power pitching left hander who will contribute immediately for the Mariners.

Casper Wells is also a guy we know who can play.  He’s shown power and a great glove for the Tigers in limited opportunities.  Wells problem was that he was caught behind Austin Jackson, Brennan Boesch, Magglio Ordonez and Andy Dirks on the depth chart.  Between Dirks and Wells, the Tigers obviously preferred the spark-plug Dirks long term–and I can’t say I blame them.  Wells, too, will contribute right away for the talent-hungry Mariners.

While Furbush and Wells were good, they were caught up in a numbers game where the Tigers have too many left handed pitchers and outfielders.  Dealing them was understandable.  Franscisco Martinez, however, is what tips this deal in the Mariners’ favor.  He’s the Tigers second best positional prospects (behind single-A third baseman Nick Castellanos) and was expected to compete at the team’s barren third base position next year.  When I heard that a third players was involved, never did I think it would be someone as talented as Martinez, who is an adept hitter but suspect fielder.

This move shows that the Tigers have all the faith in the world in Castellanos to rapidly ascend the minors as there is no one in his way long-term to hold down the third base spot in Detroit.  It also shows how desperate Dave Dombrowski and Jim Leyland are to win this year.  I’m not a huge fan of this deal because of what the Tigers gave up but at a minimum they did keep Turner and Castellanos.  With Dombrowski and Leyland and their expiring contracts, at least it shows they still had a moderate eye on the future.