Detroit Tigers Bring In Fresh Blood In Deadline Deals


The Detroit Tigers made moves on Thursday and Friday ahead of the non-waiver trade deadline that fans knew were imminent for the past two weeks. Thursday they traded ace David Price to the Toronto Blue Jays for a trio of left-hand pitching prospects, Daniel Norris, Matt Boyd and Jairo Labourt, then followed by dealing closer Joakim Soria to the Pittsburgh Pirates for shortstop prospect JaCoby Jones.

On Friday, after a day of numerous rumors they closed a deal with the New York Mets to trade power hitting left fielder Yoenis Cespedes for two right-handed pitching prospects, Michael Fulmer and Luis Cessa.

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For three established players due to hit free agency after the season general manager Dave Dombrowski did well to acquire six prospects with major league potential. All six immediately appeared on the Tigers 30 top prospects list compiled by MLB Pipeline with Labourt the lowest rated at No. 15. Norris is scheduled to pitch Sunday against the Ubaldo Jimenez and the Baltimore Orioles.

Of the three pitchers obtained from the Blue Jays Norris was the prize. He started the 2015 season in Toronto, making five starts in April before being sent back to the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons to work on control issues. In those starts he pitched 23.1 innings and compiled a 1-1 record. He struck out 18 but walked 12 and hit two batters. The positive from that major league initiation in Toronto was his 3.86 ERA and very good .294 BABIP (Batting Average Balls in Play).

In Buffalo he has started 16 games with a 3-10 record. In 90.2 innings he struck out 78 and walked 41. He compiled a 4.27 ERA but with a FIP (Fielder Independent Pitching) of 3.49 meaning he was more effective on the mound than his record suggests.

Of the other two prospects, Matt Boyd made two rough starts for Toronto earlier in the season. In his six starts since being sent back to Buffalo he was 3-1 with a 2.77 ERA. In 39 innings he gave up 32 hits but only walked six while striking out 37. Boyd doesn’t command the velocity of Norris but has solid control of his four pitch repertoire. He’ll continue his 2015 season with the Toledo Mud Hens.

The third is Jairo Labourt, a 6 feet, 4 inches tall power pitcher. His fastball has been clocked at 95-mph but he’s walked 40 hitters in 80.1 innings pitched at Single-A Dunedin. He’ll continue his season with Lakeland.

Of the two pitchers obtained from the Mets, Fulmer may be starting his Tigers career in Double-A and Cessa in Triple-A but Fulmer is the more advanced prospect at this point.

“We had asked for Fulmer for the last couple days and they said no,” according to Dombrowski after the trade. “They finally came back and made the deal in that regard because he was that highly regarded.”

Fulmer is 6-2 in 15 starts with a 1.88 ERA. So far in 2015 he has struck out 83 with only 23 walks in 86 innings. Cessa is a converted shortstop who is developing into a solid starter with improving command of a fastball, curve and changeup. He’s 7-7 between Double-A Binghamton and Triple-A Las Vegas. In his time at Double-A he had an ERA of 2.56 with a 2.66 FIP.

The only non-pitcher they brought in was shortstop JaCoby Jones from the Pirates in return for Soria. He spent a majority of this season in high Single-A Bradenton. In 423 plate appearances he hit .253 with an excellent .330 BABIP. He had 10 home runs and 58 RBI’s but 113 strikeouts. He’s also played third base and centerfield in his professional career.

The Tigers have now made the important first step of obtaining some excellent value for essentially three rent-a-players. They’re now in the position to finish their reboot next offseason and contend again in 2016.

Apr 30, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Daniel Norris (32) pitches during the first inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports