Jair Jurrjens Jair Jurrjens

Reviewing The Detroit Tigers Recent Trades


I’m only going to go back a few years here – no need to drag up that Jair Jurrjens giveaway or crow about getting Miguel Cabrera for a bunch of washouts.

1. Jhonny Peralta for Giovanni Soto.
Oct 28, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta reacts after flying out to end the sixth inning during game four of the 2012 World Series against the San Francisco Giants at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
The bar here is pretty low – as the Indians were practically giving 3-months of Peralta away. Lefty Soto was a low-level prospect (by which I mean low-minors) and though he hasn’t sniffed the bigs he is still young. In 2011 he put up a 3.13 ERA for Cleveland’s high-A Kinston team and followed it up with a 3.93 ERA in 22 starts for AA Akron this past season. His great K/BB is shrinking, so he’s not a blue-chipper but he hasn’t washed out either. Nonetheless, the Tigers got about 1 win out of Peralta in 2010, 5 in 2011 and 2.5 this past year. I’d say this one looks like a clear Tigers win – which will probably stay true even if Soto materializes as a major-league starter.

2. Doug Fister & David Pauley for Chance Ruffin, Francisco Martinez, Casper Wells & Charlie Furbush.
September 30, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; Seattle Mariners relief pitcher Charlie Furbush (41) pitches in relief during the seventh inning at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-US PRESSWIRE
Regular MCB readers will remember how I railed against this trade after it was made. Though Pauley gave the Tigers nothing, Fister has been truly stellar – he’s 18-11 with a 2.95 ERA in 36 starts for Detroit. Chance Ruffin was (in my estimation) the blue-chip prospect that Seattle got in exchange – with Martinez the high-ceiling long shot and Wells and Furbush major-league ready filler. Ruffin has – to put it mildly – not lived up to that billing. He stuck with the M’s big league club in 2011 and gave them a few solid innings. He spent all of 2012 in the minors, though, and struggled mightily (a 5.99 ERA in 50 appearances with a big drop in his strikeout rate). Could be a physical issue, could be mechanics, dunno. With Martinez the Mariners got a glimmer of hope in 2011 (as with Ruffin) when Martinez hit well down the stretch for their AA affiliate. Unfortunately (for them) his numbers we awful in a second AA stint in 2012 (.227/.315/.295). Everyone says he has a good glove, but a 3rd baseman can’t strike out more than 20% of the time without hitting more than a handful of home runs. Wells has been a solid 4th outfielder for them – giving Seattle 1.7 WAR over what amounds to 2/3 of a season worth of playing time. Furbush was awful for them as a starter in 2011 – but really, really good out of the ‘pen in 2012 (2.72 ERA, 10.3 K/9). The two top prospects that the Tigers gave up here have seen their stock drop big time, but the two major-league players that filled out the trade have been good and have been real losses for Detroit. For lack of Wells, the Tigers gave a lot of plate appearances to Ryan Raburn and Delmon Young (see below) – which actually represents a 2 or 3 win sacrifice. For lack of Furbush, the Tigers had to give innings to less effective left-handed relievers, which represents a 1 or 2 win sacrifice. However, both of those are less because of the supremely talented guys that left and more because the Tigers failed to adequately replace guys who should have been easy to replace. Fister has been worth it.

3. Delmon Young for Lester Oliveros and Cole Nelson.
June 14, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Twins pitcher Lester Oliveros (17) against the Philadelphia Phillies at Target Field. The Phillies defeated the Twins 6-1. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE
As wrong as I was on the Fister trade (I thought it would be a disaster and it has worked out well) I was spot on with the Delmon Young trade. My take was that while the Tigers gave up little of value, they would think Young was better than he was and be inclined to keep shoving this terrible hitter in the lineup when there were so many better options. And the Tigers did not, in fact, give up too much value. Nelson put up a 6.26 ERA for the Twins high-A affiliate last year but Oliveros was very good in relief in AA and AAA (2.42 ERA and 9.5 K/9 in 2012). But… Oliveros would probably be blocked in Detroit anyway and the fact of the matter is that Delmon Young has been below replacement level in his time as a Tiger. Frankly, he was not expected to be much above replacement level. He has 0.8 career WAR, meaning that other than his inexplicably decent 2010 season he has been below replacement level for his entire career. Guys at or below replacement level are supposed to play for league minimum and come for free – like Brad Eldred. They aren’t supposed to get paid $6-$7 million and require middling relief prospects in exchange. The Tigers definitely lost this one.

4. David Purcey for Scott Sizemore.
September 20, 2011; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics third baseman Scott Sizemore (29) returns to the dugout after striking out against the Texas Rangers during the fourth inning at O.co Coliseum. Texas defeated Oakland 7-2. Mandatory Credit: Jason O. Watson-US PRESSWIRE
Ugh. This one is basically the same as the Young trade above. Purcey was terrible whenever the Tigers put him in a game and didn’t last long. Sizemore hit pretty well in 2011 but then got hurt and missed 2012. Do we need more details? Giving anything up for a below-replacement-level player (BRLP) is bad. Putting that BRLP that you already have in a game is bad.

5. Anibal Sanchez & Omar Infante for Jacob Turner, Rob Brantly and Brian Flynn
Sept. 19, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins catcher Rob Brantly (19) heads towards the dugout during the bottom the of the fourth inning against he Atlanta Braves at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE
Way too early to call a “winner” on this one, though the Tigers did get what they were hoping for in the short run with a World Series trip. In seven starts for Miami, Turner was good with a 3.38 ERA and a K/BB over 3. Catcher Brantly also went directly to the big-league club and had some success down the stretch with a .290/.372/.460 batting line. That means – sadly – that Turner (in a sense) outpitched Anibal Sanchez (3.74 ERA for Detroit) while Brantly outhit Alex Avila (.769 OPS after the July 24 trade). Hrmm. Flynn is sort of a throw-in, and the Tigers did manage to move up in the draft as part of the deal, but I’m concerned that we may be regretting this one come next November.