Detroit Tigers: Top Three Trades of the 2015 Calendar Year


As the 2015 calendar year comes to an end, it’s time to look at the year in review for the Detroit Tigers. The 2015 season was an extremely disappointing one for the team. Injuries and ineffectiveness ruined the team in the first half, prompting then-general manager Dave Dombrowski to trade away David Price, Yoenis Cespedes and Joakim Soria at the trade deadline.

However, there is plenty of hope for 2016.

New general manager Al Avila has reshaped the bullpen with quality relievers like Francisco Rodriguez, Justin Wilson and Mark Lowe. Other new additions include frontline starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann, innings eater Mike Pelfrey, slugging catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, utility ace Mike Aviles and outfielder Cameron Maybin.

With hope heading into 2016, here’s a look back at the team’s top three trades of the 2015 calendar year.

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Dealing Cespedes (July 31st 2015)

This trade was tough for many. The Cuban outfielder was a perfect fit in Detroit on both sides of the ball. To go along with a .293 batting average, 18 home runs and 61 RBI in 101 games, Cespedes won a Gold Glove in the American League for his efforts with the Tigers. In terms of Zone Total Fielding Runs Above Average and Defensive Runs Saved Above Average, the former Tiger was second on the team in both categories only to Ian Kinsler.

However, while Cespedes had a brilliant first half of a season in Motown, the return the Tigers received from the Mets was just as outstanding. Right-handed pitcher Michael Fulmer was the centerpiece of the deal. ranks Fulmer’s as the team’s top prospect. In addition, the pitcher is the only Detroit prospect to be ranked by the same website in terms of baseball’s top 100 prospects.

The right-hander has a blazing fastball, a nasty slider, a solid curveball and a useable change in his arsenal. His excellent stuff and starting ability project him as a frontline pitcher.

The other prospect acquired in the deal, Luis Cessa, was recently flipped to the New York with fellow prospect Chad Green for another player who appears on this list, reliever Justin Wilson.

Oct 6, 2015; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Justin Wilson (41) throws against the Houston Astros during the sixth inning in the American League Wild Card playoff baseball game at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Acquiring Justin Wilson (December 9th, 2015) 

Like Fulmer, new Tiger Justin Wilson is also equipped with a blazing fastball. While Wilson works out of the bullpen, as opposed to the rotation, he brings significant value to the Tigers. The 28-year-old left-handed pitcher can get both left-handed and right-handed batters out.

Wilson owns a pristine career ERA of 3.03. His FIP (3.22) is solid as well considering he’s thrown over 199 innings at the Major League level. In addition to all the esthetically-appealing stats, the former New York Yankee isn’t arbitration eligible until 2016. The earliest he can hit free agency is 2019.

During the 2015 season with New York, the lefty was worth 1.4 WAR. By comparison, only one Tiger reliever had a higher WAR last season: Alex Wilson.

Justin Wilson wasn’t the only player brought in to bolster the bullpen that appears on this list. The team’s new closer was also brought in via trade.

Brining in Francisco Rodriguez

While Francisco Rodriguez doesn’t have the same fastball that blew hitters away early in his career, he has reinvented himself as a pitcher who can generate outs with his off-speed offerings.

The closer brings instant stability to the back end of previously dreadful bullpen. The man dubbed “K-Rod” has finished a staggering 121 games over the past two seasons. Over that span he’s also collected 82 saves and posted a tidy 2.66 ERA. Rodriguez has also lived up to his nickname with 135 strikeouts in 125 innings. A switch to spacious Comerica Park, not to mention a solid supporting defense, will only help the former Brewer.

To acquire the 33-year-old, the Tigers parted with middle-infield prospect Javier Betancourt

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Betancourt, who is able to play both second base and shortstop, was blocked on the organizational depth chart by Ian Kinsler, Jose Iglesias, Dixon Machado and even JaCoby Jones.

Needless to say it was a shrewd trade for Avila and the rest of the Detroit front office. With the Tigers expected to seriously contend in 2016, Rodriguez could rack up a substantial number of saves.

Check back with Motor City Bengals over the next few days as we look at the Detroit Tigers’ best free agent signings of 2015 and other bests of the recent calendar year.