The Detroit Tigers added a left-handed pitcher on Wednesday, but it wasn't the reliever most assumed. Instead, general manager Dave Dombrowski pulled off a blockbuster, scoring David Price from the Tampa Bay Rays in a three-team deal.
"We had actually talked to Tampa Bay a lot about 10 days ago about the possibility of acquiring (David) Price. It was always pretty much a three-way trade," Dombrowski said. "Andrew Friedman, (Tampa Bay's) general manager called me late last night on my way home and asked me if we'd still have interest." As Dombrowski admitted, things came up and evolved out of the blue quickly on Thursday, with Friedman and Dombrowski talking before today's game.
Going the other way in the deal are center fielder Austin Jackson, Thursday's starter Drew Smyly and 18 year-old West Michigan shortstop Willy Adames, who many consider to be Detroit's top prospect. Smyly and Adames go to the Rays with Nick Franklin, while Jackson goes to the Seattle Mariners. Dombrowski saluted both Jackson and Smyly's talent and professionalism, while also lauding the prospect. "We gave up a really good young player in Adamas, this guy's a real good young player," Dombrowski said.
During Thursday's game, Jackson was removed nearly as soon as the news broke, with Rajai Davis replacing him in the game to a classy round of applause in the stands. He shared hugs and handshakes on the way out. "I found out about 5 minutes before Jackson came out on the field," Brad Ausmus said. "It's certainly not the way it always happens, but ever since they moved the trade deadline to 4 o'clock, it's more likely to happen." Smyly had started the game and had already been removed prior to the inning, preventing the same type of moment.
The move was significant and bold from Detroit's standpoint. Now, the Tigers will feature a rotation that has three former American League Cy Young winners, with Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Price. Add Anibal Sanchez and Rick Porcello to the mix, and arguably, Detroit has the best rotation in baseball.
"The question we asked ourselves is, what gives us the best chance of winning a World Championship this year?… We thought adding (Price) to our rotation at this point would give us the best chance to do that," Dombrowski said.
This season, that's probably the case. Price has put up his usually solid numbers again going 11-8, with his ERA hovering at 3.11 and improving monthly. His addition will give Detroit something they've long lacked: an elite, power lefty in what's been very right-handed centric rotation.
Earlier in the day, the Oakland Athletics and general manager Billy Beane had made a significant deal for Boston starter Jon Lester, attempting to steal all the day's headlines early in the morning and tip the scales in the American League.
Dombrowski's answer by late afternoon from Detroit, calculated or not? Whatever you can do, I can do bigger.
Max DeMara is the editor of @tigers_101. Follow the site there on Twitter, or like it on Facebook to connect with him.
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