On Wednesday, the Detroit Tigers announced the team would be sellers this season, essentially opening their doors for business on every walk-year player. Now the Tigers have officially announced they will send left-handed ace David Price to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for a package deal that includes Triple-A left-handed pitching prospect Daniel Norris.
The Tigers were expected to contend for their fifth straight American League Central Division title this season. However, after an 11-2 start to the season and a 15-8 record in April, the team has a 34-44 record in the months that followed. As noted by Hall of Fame writer Tom Gage, the 2015 season marks the first time the team would be assured of a losing May, June and July since 2003.
Price has been the lone constant on a team whose rotation has struggled with inconsistency all year. This season, Price has been ace-like, regardless of the team's record. He has put together the best season of his career in Detroit, compiling a 2.53 ERA (a career-best) in 146 innings pitched, averaging 8.5 strikeouts per nine innings and walking just 1.8 batters on average.
Price's philosophy of getting a hitter "on or out" on three pitches or less leads to more traffic on the bases at times, as evidenced by his 8.2 hits per nine innings, but he's a magician at being able to keep runs off the board. Not to be outdone is Price's goal to go the distance every time he takes the mound. He has given Detroit three complete games, went 8 2/3 innings on Opening Day and has either carried a start into the eighth or completed eight innings on four occasions. He is, by definition, a workhorse.
Detroit approached this deadline as an opportunity to "reboot" the team, in the words of president and general manager Dave Dombrowski, rather than completely tear it down. Dombrowski also made it clear that the team would only trade players if the team believed it would be beneficial to the club's goal of competing on a yearly basis.
The return for Price not only keeps the Tigers competitive in the short-term, but also in the team's long-term plans -- particularly as the organization's farm system is the worst in the majors this year, according to Baseball America. That ranking dropped from when Detroit's minor league system was 28th and 27th in 2014 and 2013, respectively. Norris recently ranked 25th on MLB's top-100 prospects list, while Labourt pitched in this summer's Futures Game and Boyd appears as if he could slot into Detroit's rotation soon, if not immediately.
Although fourth place in their own division, the Tigers are 3.5 games out of the second wild card spot in the American League as of Thursday afternoon. Worse teams have come back from behind before and made it to the World Series that same year. The Tigers may be planning for the future, but that doesn't mean they're going to discount the present. Even if they can't defend their division title at the end of the season.
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