Tigers Trade Lefty Starter Nate Robertson To Marlins

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Tigers Covering Nearly All Of Nate Robertson's Salary

As noted earlier, Nate Robertson is due $10m in 2010, the consequence of an earlier three-year contract. How much of that will the Marlins be paying? According to Ken Rosenthal, not much.

Tigers paying $9.6M of remaining $10M on Robertson's deal. In other words, Marlins get him for minimum. 

Getting Robertson for $400k makes this virtually a cost-free addition for Florida, and, if ineffective, they'll be able to bump Robertson to relief or kick him off the team entirely without feeling like they wasted a lot of money. With Andrew Miller, Sean West, Clay Hensley, and Rick VandenHurk hanging around as starting options, among others, Robertson will certainly have to prove himself in the early going if he wants to stick in the rotation.

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Marlins May Use Newly-Acquired Robertson In The Bullpen

As Beyond the Boxscore points out, the Marlins have been very adept at building bullpens out of spare parts recently, and Nate Robertson might be their latest convert. Considering he’s likely to be mostly free for the Marlins, it might make sense to turn Robertson into a lefty specialist.

But Robertson has continued to do one thing well throughout his career, and that’s dominate left-handed hitters. Robertson has faced over 1,100 lefties in his career, posting a 3.34 FIP and 3.49 xFIP against them, compared to 5.21 and 4.72 marks against righties, respectively. Against left-handers, he misses more bats, walks less guys, and induces more groundballs, making for a significantly better pitcher all-around.

Now, Robertson’s been durable and he was good enough to post WARs between 1.9 and 2.6 each year for a four-year span as a starter in Detroit. But with that kind of domination against left-handers, it seems that Robertson could make for one damn good lefty specialist. And for a team whose best left-handed relievers are Renyel Pinto and Dan Meyer, having another high-quality option around would be pretty smart.

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Tigers Trade Lefty Starter Nate Robertson To Marlins

With Detroit's fourth and fifth rotation slots coming down to two of Jeremy Bonderman, Dontrelle Willis, and Nate Robertson, trade rumors have been circling for a little while, now. And where there was smoke, it seems, there was indeed fire, as the Tigers have traded Robertson to Florida:

Marlins acquire Nate Robertson and cash from tigers for Jay Voss

The cash will go towards paying a significant chunk of Robertson's salary, as he's due to make $10m this season. The lefty Robertson fell out of favor in Detroit by posting consecutive high ERAs after signing a lucrative extension. His fastball/slider/changeup repertoire is the same as it's ever been, but he's battled his command and an inability to miss a lot of bats. While he can still work well against left-handed bats, he doesn't see a whole lot of them, and can be taken advantage of by righties.

Jay Voss - the return - is a soon-to-be 23 year old lefty reliever who had some success in AA last season. He has a fastball in the low-90s, topping out around 94, and is being developed as a specialist. He's not a prize by any means, but he's not far away from the Majors, and could prove to be a useful piece down the stretch given the unfortunate news about Bobby Seay.

The implications here? Robertson will presumably take the fifth rotation slot in Florida, which was previously going to go to Clay Hensley. And in Detroit, Dontrelle Willis will get another chance to show that he's got something left. The statistics don't suggest that he's got great odds, but you'd have a hard time trying to find an easier play to root for.

You can read more at Bless You Boys and Fish Stripes.

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