For a while there, the sheer madness of the 2014 MLB trade deadline was like watching a heart-pounding segment of international news. It was gripping and compelling, but it would surely never actually affect you. The local news reminded you that your existence was a mundane one. The local news was the Twins debating whether to renew a millage tax, and the Royals announcing that the summer carnival was being postponed to next summer due to unforeseen permit issues.
Then the Tigers got David Price.
Which is annoying.
Not just because the Tigers got an excellent front-line starter--that's part of it--but because the deadline was mostly altering the 2014 playoff landscape. It was interesting for TV watching scheduling plans, but not super relevant to the blog. Now, we got to have a whole 'how did this affect the 2015 AL Central race?' discussion. Grand.
It's hard to tell. The Tigers added a super-great pitcher, but they're in an interesting spot here. It was more filling a needed hole in their current profile than a big massive upgrade upon our familiar conception of the Tigers. This team lost Doug Fister and received no significant contributors in return. Justin Verlander has inexplicably been worse than John Danks this year, and while that's been counteracted somewhat by Rick Porcello stepping up, they had to cash out another decent starter in Drew Smyly to get Price.
Price, Scherezer, Sanchez and Porcello, with Verlander laying in wait is monstrous in the playoffs, but Scherzer is hitting free agency afterward, and Price may be a contingency plan to take off the sting of Scherzer's departure in 2015. Or not. It's not like the Tigers don't have money.
Beyond pitching, the Tigers just traded their starting center fielder. A center fielder always has plenty of responsibility, but Jackson--legitimately of the best patrolmen in the game--took a big load of work supporting J.D. Martinez and 38-year-old Torii Hunter. Now that responsibility ostensibly falls to Rajai Davis, who is exposed at the plate beyond a platoon situation, and has the speed for center but not the instincts.
It could be a workable stopgap for the home stretch, but next year the Tigers will have to find a permanent center field solution, and maybe even find a corner outfield replacement for Hunter, while hoping Martinez is what they have seen him to be and not what the Astros thought he was. It could sap some energy and funds from the Scherzer reunion. In all, the Price trade might alter Detroit's future less than the flashiness might suggest, but that's not the true point of it. They now have another upper-level ace who could flash unhittable throughout the playoffs in the murderfest vs. the A's everyone hopes will come.
The Indians and Royals portrayed an interesting contrast in their interpretation of their position. The Indians, 53-55, middling and mediocre, sold off some their struggling core pieces that aren't performing well enough to drag them to a better present. Asdrubal Cabrera has a in-house replacement and Justin Masterson has been a mess, but the Indians shopping out both for prospects shows they don't think enough of their current hopes to wait on a late-season turnaround. Francisco Lindor isn't even being promoted anytime soon, so any notion that the Indians are hoping for the kids to save 2014 is off.
The Royals, however, standing two and a half games better in the standings, certainly didn't sell off from the last punch of their James Shields window, but only added low-level bullpen help in Scott Downs and Jason Frasor while trading away Danny Valencia for marginal minor league arms. For their reward, they learned Eric Hosmer will miss a month with a stress fracture in his hand, and had it revealed they got priced out of the David Price trade right before he was dealt to their rival. A real great stretch for them.
And then there's the Twins, who did well in acquiring a useful starter in Tommy Milone in exchange for just Scrappy Sammy Fuld, but got a pitcher so in line with their type of soft-tossing high-contact guys that their bloggers are too spooked to enjoy it. They also gave a two-year contract extension to 30-year-old catcher Kurt Suzuki, right at the moment his BABIP is 50 points over his career mark. Suzuki has hit like Tyler Flowers in his two previous years, and hasn't changed much of his profile since, but he'll be signed through 2016.
$12 million over two years could easily be backup pay if the Twins ever deliver themselves to top-100 catching prospect Josmil Pinto, but their unbridled affection for Suzuki's intangibles indicates they're likely either burying Pinto or have given up on his defense becoming tolerable. Either way, it's not a positive development.
So take heart! While the White Sox did nothing during the trade deadline because they have no desire to move Adam Dunn and all their fungible assets proved to be way too fungible, the other, more active teams in the division did not so much run away from them as proceed further in the neverending churn of aging and renewal. The Tigers made their future playoff series more awesome, but their future is still cloudy. The Royals playoff window is shutting and it's unknown how they'll react. The Twins probably gave in to their worst instincts and the Indians probably did the most assuredly right thing, but that was giving up. Sometimes the only thing we can agree upon is that it's good to give up.
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