Editor’s Note: Dan Johnson contributed to this post.
Just minutes before the 4 o’clock non-waiver trade deadline, news surfaced that the Rays had traded their ace, David Price, to the Tigers as part of a 3-team deal that also included the Mariners.
Details are rather sketchy at the moment, but it appears that the Tigers will send starting pitcher Drew Smyly and minor leaguer Willy Adames to the Rays and center fielder Austin Jackson to the Mariners. Seattle, in turn, will send middle infielder Nick Franklin to Rays. While this deal shows the lengths Seattle and Detroit are willing to go to win right now, it is also a sign of Tampa Bay giving up on 2014.
Detroit goes all in
This is a deal that will work very well for Detroit. The Tigers reacted to the Lester deal with an even bigger one. Both Oakland and Detroit gave up a big piece of the outfield to acquire that talent, though the A’s had more pitching depth to begin with.
While each team also traded away a starter (for Oakland, in a different transaction), only Oakland recouped a starting outfielder to cover the loss. (They actually recovered two outfielders today — Gomes in the Lester deal, and Sam Fuld for pitcher Tommy Milone.) Each staff is formidable in its own right, and each team has done a great service to itself in furthering the postseason cause.
The Tigers were already a top contender in the American League, but they have to be considered a huge threat to Oakland’s pennant chances. Now Detroit has a playoff rotation consisting of the past three AL Cy Young winners (Justin Verlander, Price and Max Scherzer) as well as Anibal Sanchez and Rick Porcello, two generally dependable starters.
What they gave up was not too extraordinary. Austin Jackson was having a good, but not amazing, offensive campaign. Meanwhile, the loss of Drew Smyly is more than covered by the acquisition of Price. Finally, it is too early to determine how 18 year old Willy Adames will develop, or whether he will even make the Major Leagues.
Seattle bolsters its rotation and outfield
The Mariners showed that they wanted to be contenders in 2014 when they signed Robinson Cano to a huge free agent contract. Right now, they are just three games out of the AL Wild Card, and felt they were a few pieces away from taking the next step. With Jackson, they have gained a dependable starting center fielder who has good speed, good defense and the ability to get on base.
Perhaps most importantly for their 2014 chances, the Mariners only gave up Nick Franklin. The 23 year old had been a highly regarded young prospect, but did not make much of a contribution this year, instead spending most of the season in the minors.
Tampa Bay looks to the future
When discussing this deal, not a whole lot can be said about the Rays. They followed the same pattern they have always used. By trading away Price, they will avoid having to pay him huge money down the road.
They were able to acquire Nick Franklin, Smyly and Willy Adames. Drew Smyly is only 25, and figures to be a solid starter both in 2014 and beyond. Getting him will lessen the sting of losing Price somewhat. Also, Adames is very young, and could turn out to be a starter in the next several years.
It is still a bit surprising that the Rays settled for this price, though, considering the talks leading up to the deadline. Many had thought that if Price was traded, he would command several blue chip prospects. However, it appears the Rays wanted to get rid of Price to avoid paying him, and recoup what talent they could manage to get. Franklin is a good acquisition, not a great one.
Joe Setyon, sports editor of The Collegian at Grove City College, contributes to Three for Ten Sports as a baseball writer.
Dan Johnson is editor-in-chief of Three for Ten Sports and former managing editor of The Collegian at Grove City College.