Detroit Tigers should have traded for Yoenis Cespedes, not David Price


The Tigers recently acquired David Price from the Tampa Bay Rays in a blockbuster deal. The details of the trade are below, courtesy of Jon Morosi.

*Correction to above report; 18 year old SS Willy Adames was also involved in the deal

The deal was met with and mass excitement among Tigers fans; and why shouldn’t it be? Detroit’s pitching rotation is absolutely deadly as it includes the past three Cy Young Award winners, as well as 2013 AL ERA leader Anibal Sanchez, and young stud Rick Porcello. David Price brings so much talent and energy to Detroit, it’s hard not to be excited. But there was a different player that was dealt by his former team that the Tigers should have acquired rather than Price.

The Tigers should have traded for Yoenis Cespedes of the Oakland Atheltics instead of David Price. In no way am I trying to downplay how incredible it is that David Price will now don the English D, but acquiring the 28 year-old Cespedes would have made much more sense for the Tigers. I like the idea of Price in Detroit, but Cespedes seems a bit more ideal.

It’s easy to see how the trade happened though…

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The Hatfields & McCoys-like relationship between the A’s and Tigers led David Dombrowski to pull the trigger on a trade that didn’t need to be made. It’s almost like the dueling banjos in Deliverance where each person tries to outdo the other. The Tigers did not need David Price; it’s mind-boggling to have him but we did not need him.  By battling Oakland in an arms race, many of the Tigers’ actual needs were overlooked, such as the bullpen, and the need of another bat. GM David Dombrowski seems to get caught up in the heat of the moment and acquire superstars rather than address the teams dire needs; the Price trade seems to mirror the Prince Fielder deal. Fielder was signed out of desperation after Victor Martinez went down with a torn ACL prior to the 2012 season.

Yoenis Cespedes was traded for Boston Red Sox ace Jon Lester, whom is a free agent following this season. If the A’s were willing to give up their All Star slugging outfielder for Lester, then they probably would have given him up for Max Scherzer as well. Scherzer is the reigning Cy Young Award winner, what team wouldn’t strike at the chance to have that on their roster. And while Lester has a better ERA than Scherzer this season, it’s hard to believe the A’s would pass on a Scherzer-Cespedes deal. The only thing stopping this deal from happening would be the idea that Detroit and Oakland will most likely meet up in the playoffs. But Cespedes is batting .200 (1 for 7) in career PA’s against Scherzer, those odds would catch Oakland’s eye for sure. Fact of the matter, the Tigers should have traded for Yoenis, not Price.

Jul 3, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Max Scherzer (37) pitches in the eighth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

And now, the Tigers are basically going to let Max Scherzer walk for nothing, so why not trade him? Let’s face it; he’s not signing back with the team. If he was going to, he would have accepted the $144 million contract they offered him during Spring Training. Shipping out the soon to be FA Scherzer and getting an elite hitter like Cespedes in return makes much more sense.

Sit on this for a second; Ian Kinsler, Victor Martinez, Miguel Cabrera, and Yoenis Cespedes. To me that’s more valuable than Verlander, Sanchez, Scherzer, Price. Why? Becuase all four of those pitchers could thrown eight inning shutouts but if there isn’t any offense to back up their performance, it’s somewhat pointless. The pitching was fine before Price came to town; adding Cespedes would make the Tigers a more complete team.

Complete teams win Championships. If the Tigers would have gotten Cespedes, they would have been a more complete team.

By getting Yoenis Cespedes, some team needs would have been addressed; such as the need for another bat and a defensive upgrade in the outfield. Torri Hunter, though a future Hall of Famer, is having a tough time out in RF. He’s last in fielding percentage among qualified RF’ers. I could tie a mitt to my dogs tail and send her out to RF and she’d play it better than Hunter.JD Martinez and Rajai Davis are nothing more than average defenders. Plus, they can’t do this.

“Complete teams win championships. If the Tigers would have gotten Cespedes, they would have been a more complete team”

Acquiring Cepsedes, whom leads the league with 12 OF assists, would have upgraded Detroit’s outfield defense. It also would have brought another bat, which you can never have too many of. Taking away Austin Jackson was actually one of the worst things that could have happened to the Tigers defense. Plus he’s been swinging the hot bat. Oakland has an abundance of outfielders and most liekly would not have taken him in a Cepsedes deal as where both Seattle and Tampa Bay lack outfielders.

And then we get to the elephant in the room; the Detroit Tigers bullpen. Adding Joakim Soria was nice but there’s still not enough there. Detroit’s bullpen is one of the worst in the majors; only Colorado and Houston are worse. With a 4.52 ERA, something needed to be done and wasn’t. Adding Price just tacked on another power arm while the bullpen was left to rot. Now, Yoenis Cespedes wouldn’t have fixed the bullpen either but he fixes some of the team’s needs as where David Price is advantageous.

When it comes to the plate, Yoenis is batting .252 with 17 HR’s, 26 2B, and 67 RBI. A bit of a down year as far as his standards go but you know you’ll get a show every time this guy steps up to the plate.A position player would have been more ideal for the Tigers as opposed to a pitcher as they have a bigger impact since they play every day, as where a pitcher only appears every five days. Cepspedes has the chance to change the game with the swing of a bat; Price’s impact and performance will take a little more to yield change.

Oct 8, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Oakland Athletics left fielder Yoenis Cespedes hits a double against the Detroit Tigers in the 8th inning in game four of the American League divisional series playoff baseball game at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Another reason Cespedes makes more sense than Price; there’s a better chance at resigning him to a long term contract. Price is under team control until after the 2015 season. It’s easy to predict that Price will receive a lucrative contract as he is more than deserving. But with him being a lefty, he’ll be even pricier than most. The Tigers won’t shell that out with the payroll they already have. But signing Cespedes to a long term deal after the 15′ season seems likelier; the Tigers were in the running to sign him when he first defected from Cuba before the 2012 season.

In the end, acquiring Price is exhilarating and there couldn’t have been a more exciting move. And the idea that he is now a Detroit Tiger is almost unbelievable. But a deal for Yoenis Cespdes would have suited the club a little better.

Now all we can do is wait and see.