Tigers Acquire Doug Fister, David Pauley from Mariners


It appears as if the long wait is over. Weeks after speculation began that the Detroit Tigers would be in the market for starting pitching, the club has reached an agreement with the Seattle Mariners to obtain right handers Doug Fister and David Pauley, this according to Jon Heyman. In return, the package of players headed to the Pacific Northwest is said to include LHP Charlie Furbush and OF Casper Wells, along with AA third baseman Francisco Martinez.

If you look only at Fister’s 3-12 record, you’d assume the Tigers got hosed on this deal, but that just isn’t the case. Fister has pitched with the worst run support in baseball this year and his 3.33 ERA is much more telling of the kind of talent he is.

He isn’t a high-strikeout guy (averages 5.5/9), but he doesn’t walk anyone (2.0/9), so the Tigers are getting a guy with good command who knows how to pitch. The added bonus is that Fister, 27, won’t be eligible for free agency until 2015, so the Tigers will get him for three-and-a-half years for the price of two or three young players.

In addition to Fister, who some believe has number two or three starter stuff, the Tigers add a right handed bullpen arm they have needed to shore up the middle relief. Pauley has been working as a set-up man with the Mariners this year, but his stuff isn’t overpowering and he will likely slot into a sixth inning role with the Tigers. With the seemingly ever-present tenderness in the elbow of Al Alburquerque, the Tigers needed another reliable right hander to get the ball to the late-inning duo of Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde. Pauley won’t “wow” you, but he also throws strikes consistently, which is more than can be said of many of the other guys Detroit has tried this year.

For Seattle, Wells figures to get a chance to play on at least a semi-regular basis. He impressed in his time with the Tigers for his outfield defense and his better-than-average pop. Wells was blocked behind a host of outfielders in Detroit and was no better than fifth or sixth on the organizational depth chart. Moving to Seattle should free up some much-needed at bats for him.

Furbush, who has worked in relief for the Tigers, has a history as a starter in the minor leagues and should be able to step into a starting role with the M’s as well. This trade will provide a much larger major league role for both these guys.

In giving up Martinez, the Tigers are surrendering one of their top hitting prospects. Martinez represented the organization at this year’s Futures Game, but with Nick Castellanos also a third baseman, Martinez was deemed expendable (or at least more expendable than Castellanos). Martinez is just 20 years old and hitting well at Double-A Erie, so there is certainly a chance he blossoms into a quality major leaguer sooner rather than later. Still, you have to give up something to get something.

That the Tigers were able to address their needs for both a starter and a reliever in one trade and do so without giving up any of their top three prospects (Jacob Turner, Castellanos, Andy Oliver) has to make this a good move by Detroit. That they did it without getting a “rental” player and having team control for three more year of Fister is even better.

The cost of giving up talented young players like Wells and Furbush, guys that could have helped this team this year, isn’t ideal. But The Tigers dealt from a position of depth in both cases and held tight to their top prospects. I like the trade an awful lot, even though I’ll miss Wells and Furbush when they shine with Seattle.

Larry Stone is tweeting that there could be another prospect included in this deal from Detroit, saying “it could be a significant name.” There is speculation that the deal will include a player to be named later. That would open up the possibility of the player perhaps being from the 2010 draft class, as players cannot be traded for one year after signing their contracts.

If the PTBNL is a “significant” name, as Stone suggests, this deal might have just gotten a bit more distasteful.

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