Baseball is one of the few major American sports where trades are a major factor for any team, both during the season and in the off season.
Dave Dombrowski seems to have an itch to overhaul his ball club every year, but given the fact that Mr. Illitch wants to win now, you can hardly blame him for drafting talent and shipping it off almost immediately. The number of prospects that the Tigers traded away in the past year alone to get big names (David Price, Joakim Soria) down the stretch is astounding.
Since the start of the 2014 season, the Tigers have received:
They traded away:
Austin Jackson (starting CF)
Drew Smyly (only LF starter, showed a lot of promise)
Willy Adames (SS- was named Ray’s top prospect after trade)
Jake Thompson (RHP – Tigers 2012 2nd round pick)
Corey Knebel (RHP – Tigers 2013 1st round pick)
Devon Travis (2B – Tigers 2012 13th round pick)
Robbie Ray (RHP – Received in exchange for Doug Fister in 2013)
Eugenio Suarez (SS – played half a season in majors in 2014)
Rick Porcello (RHP – staple in Tigers rotation for years)
Of the 9 players traded away in the past year, I would argue that 7 of them would be considered prospects. The scene that unfolded with Austin Jackson running off the field in mid-inning was bizarre and unusual, but it’s characteristic of how Dombrowski has run this team. He’s opportunistic and is not worried about taking a risk, but at what cost? The Tigers farm system is absolutely depleted, and the trades last year did not pay off now, which is what they were intended to do. Last season truly turned into win at all costs. The pitching staff is not young, and there are no big name arms waiting in line for their opportunity.
While Dombrowski has fleeced some teams in the past (Marlins for Cabrera, D-backs for Scherzer), you have to wonder how long you can go trading away the core of your farm system (and your future) before you run out of assets. Your major league club is not getting any younger. I am fearful that the Tigers have sacrificed far too much to win now and the damage the farm system has already been felt (last year, starting rotation and bullpen, anyone?)….
What are your thoughts? Has the window closed on the Tigers to win a World Series? Are all of these trades moves of desperation? As a fan of the game, I like what the Royals have done, and I think the White Sox will be strong contenders for the AL Central as soon as next season. However, I believe the Royals are the team that the Tigers will be chasing for years to come. They have positioned themselves to win for the foreseeable future by building a team the right way – through their farm system.