While the team hasn’t been as successful this season as many fans would hope, the Tigers figure to once again make some big moves before this year’s July 31 trading deadline.
Analysis: The Tigers had a decent record at the break, but they were 16 games behind the White Sox, so it made sense to unload their veteran reliever for some younger arms. Colon was considered the better prospect, but his career is most notable for using his right hand for something other than pitching. Zach Miner ended up being a solid contributor for the Tigers as both a starter and a reliever for the next few seasons.2006
Record at All-Star Break: 59-29
Record at Season’s End: 95-67
July 31 - Traded right-handed pitcher Brian Rogers to the Pirates for first baseman Sean Casey.
Analysis: The Tigers were the biggest surprise in all of baseball in 2006, and Chris Shelton was probably the biggest surprise on the team. But by the middle of the season his production had fallen off dramatically, and it was clear the Tigers needed an upgrade at first base. They didn’t give up much, but they also didn’t get much, as Sean Casey played some of the worst baseball of his career. He was, however, outstanding in the 2006 playoffs, hitting .459 with 2 HR and 9 RBIs in 10 games.2007
Record at All-Star Break: 52-34
Record at Season’s End: 88-74
No Deadline Trades
Analysis: The Tigers were definite contenders in 2007, sitting in first place for most of August, but they didn’t make any deadline moves. They did make a few smaller trades earlier, moving pitcher Wil Ledezma for lefty reliever Macay McBride and trading pitcher Mike Maroth for a PTBNL in June, and then moving minor-league pitcher Chris Cody to the Brewers for reliever Jose Capellan in early July. McBride and Capellan both pitched for the team in 2007, but neither were counted on down the stretch. The Tigers were apparently content to let the return of an injured Joel Zumaya serve as their main deadline move. It didn’t work, and the Detroit eventually lost the division to Cleveland.2008
Record at All-Star Break: 47-47
Record at Season’s End: 74-88
July 30 - Traded catcher Ivan Rodriguez to the Yankees for Farnsworth.
Analysis: This ended up being a nothing trade for both teams, as both players were pretty awful after the move. Dealing Pudge seemed a bit like the end of an era, because many felt it was his signing that spurred the Tigers into being a relevant franchise again. Bringing Farnsworth never made much sense, and both players were on new teams in 2009.2009
Record at All-Star Break: 48-39
Record at Season’s End: 86-77
July 30 - Traded left-handed pitchers Luke French and Mauricio Robles to the Mariners for left-handed starter Jarrod Washburn.
Analysis: This one still stings a bit. The Tigers were poised to return to the playoffs, and Washburn was going to be the steady mid-rotation starter who would put them over the top. Instead, he was awful in Detroit, and the Tigers suffered one of the most painful late-season collapses in recent MLB history. Washburn never pitched in the majors again, French did little for the Mariners, and Robles didn’t reach the bigs until 2013 with the Phillies, but none of that information offers much comfort to Tigers fans.2010
Record at All-Star Break: 48-38
Record at Season’s End: 81-81
July 30 - Traded left-handed pitcher Giovanni Soto to the Indians for shortstop Jhonny Peralta.
Analysis: This is one of Dombrowski’s most shrewd trade deadline moves, because the Tigers were somewhat surprisingly in contention during what was considered a rebuilding year. They were just a half game out of first place at the All-Star Break, but had slipped to six games back by the deadline. Instead of selling the farm to make an improbable run, the team made a seemingly small move to acquire a veteran at a position of dire need -- they had been using Adam Everett, Ramon Santiago, and Danny Worth at shortstop. Peralta’s 2010 contributions weren’t spectacular, but it gave the Tigers the chance to form a relationship with him, and he re-signed with the team later that year. Over the next three seasons he produced more than 8 WAR for the Tigers, while making roughly $18 million. Soto is still in the Indians organization, working as a reliever in AAA this season.2011
Record at All-Star Break: 49-43
Record at Season’s End: 95-67
July 20 - Traded left-handed pitcher Antonio Cruz and catcher Julio Rodriguez to the Royals for third baseman Wilson Betemit.
July 30 - Traded third baseman Francisco Martinez, outfielder Casper Wells, left-handed pitcher Charlie Furbush, and right-handed pitcher Chance Ruffin to the Mariners for right-handed pitchers Doug Fister and David Pauley.
Analysis:The Betemit trade gets forgotten for obvious reasons, but he provided a nice boost for the Tigers as they battled for the division in July and August before running away with things in September. The deal with the Mariners worked out beautifully for the Tigers. David Pauley was one of the best relievers in the AL while pitching for Seattle in 2011, but he struggled mightily after coming to Detroit. But no one cares anymore, because Fister quickly developed into one of the best pitchers in the American League, providing a tremendous amount of value to the Tigers over the next few years. The deal wasn’t so hot for the Mariners, however. Casper Wells proved to be a reserve outfielder at best with Seattle, and has kicked around baseball for the last few years, even playing for the Tigers AA affiliate this season. Francisco Martinez never made the majors, and is also back in the Tigers system. Chance Ruffin wasn’t very effective and abruptly retired last year, leaving only Charlie Furbush, who has been solid as a left-handed relief specialist.2012
Record at All-Star Break: 44-42
Record at Season’s End: 88-74
July 23 - Traded left-handed pitcher Brian Flynn, right-handed pitcher Jacob Turner, and catcher Rob Brantly to the Marlins for second baseman Omar Infante and right-handed pitcher Anibal Sanchez.
Analysis: Another robbery. The Marlins actually got negative value out of this deal, and all three players are with other organizations now, with Flynn moving to the Royals in a trade, and Turner (somewhat inexplicably) and Brantly getting claimed by other teams after being placed on Waivers. Sanchez wasn’t spectacular down the stretch, but he did help the Tigers win their second consecutive division title, and like the Peralta deal in 2010, this trade helped Detroit form a solid relationships and eventually re-sign a potential free agent. Infante was sort of the icing on the cake, performing quite well at a position of need for the team.2013
Record at All-Star Break: 52-42
Record at Season’s End: 93-69
July 29 - Traded outfielder Danry Vasquez and right-handed pitcher David Paulino to the Astros for Jose Veras.
July 30 - Traded outfielder Avisail Garcia to the White Sox and right-handed reliever Brayan Villarreal to the Red Sox for shortstop Jose Iglesias.
Analysis: The Veras trade was mildly shocking at the time, because he was a veteran reliever with little history of success, and Danry Vasquez was considered one of the best prospects in the Tigers system. Veras was decent for the Tigers, though he’s best remembered for giving up a soul-crushing grand slam to Shane Victorino in Game 6 of the 2013 ALCS. Vasquez is currently hitting .165 for the Astros’ AA affiliate, and Paulino is in low-A after missing all of 2014. The other deal from 2013 is far more intriguing, because it involved three teams and two very promising young players who had already played in the majors. The Red Sox won the World Series, so they were plenty happy with Jake Peavy as their main return in the deal, but Brayan Villarreal’s sole appearance for Boston was an unfortunate one, as he entered a tie game with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 9th and proceeded to walk in the winning run. He’s currently a free agent. Iglesias and Garcia figure to be compared to each other for as long as they remain in the same division, but it’s too early to say who made out better in the deal. Early returns favor the Tigers, mostly because Iglesias has been a defensive wizard, while the metrics consider Garcia to be something of a butcher in the field. Garcia has much more offensive upside, however, so declaring victory now would be unwise.2014
Record at All-Star Break: 53-38
Record at Season’s End: 90-72
July 23 - Traded right-handed pitchers Jake Thompson and Corey Knebel to the Rangers for right-handed pitcher Joakim Soria.
July 30 - Traded left-handed pitcher Drew Smyly and shortstop Willy Adames to the Rays, and center fielder Austin Jackson to the Mariners for left-handed pitcher David Price.
Analysis: Of all the deadline deals during Dombrowski’s tenure as GM, these two have the greatest potential to look ugly in a few years. The Soria deal wasn’t looking so great last season, as the veteran reliever basically pitched the worst baseball of his life. He has come back strong in 2015 to provide a steadying influence in the bullpen as Detroit’s closer, but the Rangers have already flipped Knebel to the Brewers in a deal to get Yovani Gallardo, and Thompson is generally considered to be among the top 100 prospects in all of baseball. The Mariners should probably learn to not trade with the Tigers anymore, because Austin Jackson has been pretty lousy in Seattle, continuing a downward trend that began in Detroit last year. The Tigers will never regret trading for Price, because he’s been every bit the ace they were hoping he’d be, but it’s very possible his career in Detroit ends with only a single postseason appearance. The Rays, however, have to be pretty happy with their return, even with Drew Smyly’s shoulder injury this season. He has pitched limited innings for them, but has been terrific in almost all of his outings, and appears to be a better pitcher than even the most optimistic Tigers fans expected. And Willy Adames, like Thompson, is generally regarded as a top-100 prospect. He’s one of the youngest players in high-A ball, yet he’s among the Florida State League leaders in doubles, triples, walks, and OPS.