July 30th, 2011

Another Tigers trade? Maybe, but not big

Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski didn’t rule out another trade before Sunday afternoon’s non-waiver Trade Deadline. But judging from his remarks, if something does happen, it’s likely to be a smaller swap. The roster, for the most part, is set.

“I don’t know if we’ll do anything,” Dombrowski said Saturday afternoon after announcing the trade for Doug Fister and David Pauley.

“I mean, we continue to talk to people, see if there’s ways to make our club better. Again, you never tell what comes out of the blue at this point. Anything can come out of the blue. But our starting pitching, we feel this solidifies our starting rotation. We’re not going to make any moves with our positional players. The way our club settles is the way it is. I guess if there’s one spot that came out of the blue, it might be a bullpen situation, but if we finished here, we’d be happy.”

The Tigers reportedly remain in the mix for Colorado starter Ubaldo Jimenez, but it’s difficult to see them pulling off a deal unless the Rockies’ asking price drops dramatically. After reports Friday night suggested the Rockies wanted Rick Porcello and Max Scherzer, Dombrowski said Saturday that any trade discussion involving their current starters is and has been a non-starter.

“We have never, ever contemplated trading anybody off our starting staff at this level,” Dombrowski said. “That never has been part of any conversations. Have we been asked for that? Yes. Have we ever contemplated or talked about that? No.

“And when you really stop and think about it, it would make no sense whatsoever, because you’re trying to plug a hole and you just created another hole.”

Conceivably, the Tigers could trade a starter and upgrade to another starter now that Fister is in the fold. But the core group of the Tigers rotation looks very much intact. When Dombrowski talked about his starting staff and where Turner fits in, he talked about them as a long-term group.

Ace Justin Verlander is under contract for three more seasons. Rick Porcello and Max Scherzer don’t hit free agency until the same time. With that in mind, part of the appeal for the Tigers with Fister was that they can keep him for four more years after this before he can become a free agent.

“We’re very happy,” Dombrowski said. “All of a sudden, you look forward and we’re in a spot where you have Verlander and Scherzer and Porcello, who we can see now starting to dial it up like he’s capable, and Fister, who’s a very good pitcher. Four young guys, four guys for an extended period, and we still have Jacob Turner behind them.”

The most likely area for a last-second deal would be the bullpen, where Charlie Furbush’s trade to Seattle removes arguably the most versatile piece of Detroit’s relief corps. More than a long reliever, Furbush was finding his way into specialist situations at times after moving out of the rotation, given his high-strikeout arsenal.

Daniel Schlereth now appears likely to stick around along with Phil Coke, but the Tigers still have to help David Purcey rediscover his command given his recent spat of walks. They could also yet find a seventh-inning arm to complement Al Alburquerque, who remains unavailable while the team medical staff addresses inflammation around his right elbow.

Tigers get Fister, Pauley

The Tigers’ month-long search for starting pitching is over. Detroit filled its most important need heading into Sunday’s non-waiver Trade Deadline by acquiring right-hander Doug Fister from Seattle on Saturday for a package of prospects.

The Tigers also get right-handed reliever David Pauley from Seattle, fortifying a bullpen that had been short on right-handed middle relief for most of the year. In return, Detroit sent left-hander Charlie Furbush, outfielder Casper Wells, third base prospect Francisco Martinez and a player to be named later, likely a prospect drafted last year. By rule, players cannot be traded until a year after signing their first professional contract.

Fister owns a 3-12 record, but it’s a better reflection of the Mariners’ struggles than the 27-year-old’s pitching. His 3.33 ERA ranks 20th among AL starters, ahead of every current Detroit starter not named Justin Verlander. His 1.17 WHIP ratio ranks 15th. His run support, on the other hand, ranks dead last.

He isn’t a high-strikeout pitcher by any stretch, but he’s someone who — ironically, given his record — will give his team a chance to win.

The 28-year-old Pauley owns a 5-4 record and 2.15 record, allowing 38 hits over 54 1/3 innings.  He has seven holds and one blown save opportunity.

Tigers calling up Turner, closing in on deal

Forget about Tigers top prospect Jacob Turner going to Colorado. It appears the right-hander is coming to Detroit. But if the Tigers can complete trade talks in the coming hours, it also appears that it won’t be a long stay.

Turner was abruptly scratched from his scheduled start for Double-A Erie last night and left the SeaWolves, who were in Akron for a weekend series. That move, which was confirmed Friday night, prompted speculation he was about to be traded, especially after a Foxsports.com report suggested the Tigers were willing to include him in a trade package for Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez.

Instead, he’s expected to be called up by the Tigers to start Saturday night against the Angels at Comerica Park in what would be his Major League debut. SI.com’s Jon Heyman first reported the call-up.

Now, that start is sounding more like a spot assignment. CBSSports.com’s Danny Knobler reports that the Tigers are hopeful of completing a deal today with the Mariners for right-hander Doug Fister. That trade could include Tigers left-handed prospect Charlie Furbush, Knobler reported.

It wouldn’t be the blockbuster some might have hoped the Tigers would do with Jimenez, but it would fill Detroit’s fifth starter void quite nicely without forcing Detroit to sell out its farm system. Though the 27-year-old Fister owns a 3-12 record, his 3.33 ERA ranks 20th among AL starters, ahead of every current Detroit starter not named Justin Verlander. His 1.17 WHIP ratio ranks 15th.

Turner scratched from Erie start … now what?

Jacob Turner was set to start for Double-A Erie on Saturday at Akron against Drew Pomeranz in a matchup of two of baseball’s top pitching prospects. It was going to be a scout’s delight, especially if that scout happened to be with the Rockies, whose ace Ubaldo Jimenez has drawn interest from Detroit and Cleveland.

Sounds like quite a showcase, except that Turner won’t be starting for Erie on Saturday, according to a source. Drew Smyly, the highly-regarded Tigers draft pick from last year who had been promoted to start for Erie on Sunday, will start on Saturday instead. It would’ve been his day to pitch on normal rest if he had stayed at Class A Lakeland anyway.

As for Turner, his whereabouts are unknown. He isn’t in Akron with the SeaWolves, having left the team Friday, and Tigers officials weren’t answering questions about his status Friday night. SI.com’s Jon Heyman reported early Saturday morning that the Tigers are calling up Turner. But Duane Below, the Tigers’ scheduled starter for Saturday, was spotted in the Tigers clubhouse after Friday’s game, and he wasn’t seen packing his bags.

That leaves three possibilities:

  1. Turner could be on the verge of being traded. A report from Foxsports.com’s Ken Rosenthal stated the Tigers are now willing to deal Jacob Turner in a package for Jimenez. But a report later Friday from Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com suggested the Tigers were out of the running for Jimenez for now. Unless the Tigers get a top pitching target for longer than a two-month rental, it’s unlikely they would trade Turner, who’s expected to compete for a rotation spot next spring.
  2. Turner could indeed be on the verge of joining the Tigers. Detroit just happened to move him up in Erie’s rotation over the All-Star break so that his start conveniently fell on the same day as the Tigers’ fifth spot currently held by Below. Tigers officials still said at the time that he wasn’t a consideration, but sources suggested there was some serious thought on the matter. At the very least, he became an insurance option. He has better stuff than most pitchers available on the trade market, and the Tigers ended Friday with seemingly no clear path on their trade pursuits.
  3. Turner is away from the team for other reasons. As crazy as that sounds, it’s conceivable if a family issue popped up or he had other personal reasons.