Detroit Tigers: The Price of a Farm System
By Tom Zahari
The Detroit Tigers’ moves finally paid off, but not in the way Tigers’ fans hoped. Instead of bringing home a World Series championship, the constant selling of the farm system, and the constant failure to develop their remaining prospects backed the Tigers into the corner and forced them to sell at the trade deadline after coming up empty-handed for the last number of years. The price of the Tigers’ farm system was a sale in 2015, but the pieces they acquired show a lot of hope for the future, especially with Daniel Norris and Michael Fulmer leading the way.
Dombrowski has used his prospects to build his team, but not in the traditional sense. He has been the master of trading his prospects for major contributors to the Big League club. He has complimented those pieces with free agents and castaways to put together a serviceable club, but failed at producing a serviceable bullpen that could hold enough leads for the Detroit Tigers to make their runs.
Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller, Rob Brantly, Jacob Turner, Brian Flynn, Casper Wells, Charlie Furbush, Chance Ruffin, Brayan Villarreal, Brian Rogers, Giovanni Soto, Luke French, Mauricio Robles. These are the names of former Tigers’ prospects who the Tigers dealt for Miguel Cabrera, Anibal Sanchez, Omar Infante, Doug Fister, Jose Iglesias, Jhonny Peralta, and Jared Washburn. They are all prospects who never achieved their fullest potential of an ace, a late-inning bullpen arm, a stud in the field, or even a reliable everyday player.
Avisail Garcia, Willy Adames, Drew Smyly, Devon Travis, and Jonathan Crawford are recent departures from the Tigers who look like they are or will become success stories from the Tigers’ organization, but they are not doing it for the Tigers.
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The Tigers have been more successful recently in producing the players listed just above along with others like Nick Castellanos, Bruce Rondon, Al Alburquerque, and James McCann, but they constantly rank toward the bottom in baseball every year.
The price to rebuild that farm system was selling on a borderline team because there was nothing left in the system that anyone wanted. Dave Dombrowski had to rebuild his system not just to have players for the future, but bargaining chips for the Tigers to use when they want to buy once again.
Since the Tigers made pushes over and over, they depleted their farm system on a yearly basis. It finally caught up to them in 2015. The price to rebuild that farm system was David Price, Joakim Soria, and Yoenis Cespedes.
The Tigers looked to have started their reboot at the trade deadline by restocking the farm with Daniel Norris, Matt Boyd, Jario Labourt, Michael Fulmer, Luis Cessa, and JaCoby Jones. They will need to decide how to complete the reboot: restock with free agents, make trades, or wait and let their prospects develop.