The Detroit Tigers made a move that will help them today and in the future, acquiring starting pitcher Doug Fister from the Seattle Mariners. The Tigers will also receive reliever David Pauley, and will send Casper Wells, Charlie Furbush, Francisco Martinez and a PTBNL to Seattle.
With Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello already in place, the Tigers headed into the trade deadline looking for a back-end starter. Fister, owner of a 3.33 ERA, will slide in nicely behind Detroit’s other arms. While Fister’s ERA is certainly a result of Safeco Field and the Mariners’ defense, he is by no means a product of a great situation. Fister’s xFIP currently sits below 4.00, as does his SIERA. While his league-average numbers are all well and good, Fister’s value comes from his contract situation. The 27-year old won’t be arbitration eligible until 2013, giving the Tigers another year or two of very cheap production.
In Pauley, the Tigers are hoping to get some immediate relief help, but they will likely be disappointed. Pauley started the season on a tear, but his numbers have fallen hard to Earth. The 28-year old has experience as a starter, so he will be giving the Tigers depth at a low cost, if nothing else.
The Mariners’ rationale seems pretty clear: the team needs offense, and they are confident they can find a pitcher who can thrive in Safeco Field. Seattle already has Blake Beaven to take over for Fister, and with James Paxton pitching in Double-A and the potential to add draftee Danny Hultzen to the mix, Jack Zduriencik must have felt that Fister was not going to be a huge part of the Mariners’ future.
Wells, a 26-year old outfielder, will probably step right in and play left field for Seattle, giving him an extended audition for next season. The right-hander doesn’t necessarily do one thing that stands out, but he does have good pop and should be a very good platoon bat, at the very least.
Furbush could step in right away and enter the Mariners rotation, but it appears he will be in Seattle’s bullpen, at least for the time being. The 25-year old left-hander has had troubles with the home run ball in the minors, but playing in spacious Safeco will help alleviate those concerns. Furbush probably isn’t more than a back of the rotation starter, but he could turn into a good lefty out of the pen should the Mariners decide to continue down that road. He clearly has more value in the rotation, so the team would be much better off giving him a chance to start.
While Wells and Furbush are okay, most think that Martinez will be the equalizer in this trade. Martinez is still quite raw, but he has held his own as a 20-year old in Double-A. He needs to work on his plate discipline and is more projection than production at this point, but there is a chance he could develop into a starting third baseman in the next two years.
All that being said, I bet you are wondering, “who won this trade?” The Tigers make out well in this deal because they did not mortgage any pieces of their future and received a player who will give them plenty of surplus value over the next few years. The Mariners dealt from a position they feel is a strength to improve the overall depth of their system, but if Jack Z. and Co. view Furbush as a reliever, this deal will not be looked at in a favorable light. There is still a PTBNL to be dealt with, and there is always a chance that player could tip the scales dramatically, but ultimately this deal is one that could end up working for both sides, with the Tigers seeing more of a direct and guaranteed impact.