After a couple months of wondering which low-cost relief pitcher the Tigers would go after at this year's non-waiver trade deadline, GM Dave Dombrowski pulled yet another last-minute blockbuster deal to fill a huge roster need. With reports surfacing that shortstop Jhonny Peralta will be suspended for 50 games due to the Biogenesis scandal, the Tigers traded outfield prospect Avisail Garcia and reliever Brayan Villarreal to the Boston Red Sox for infielder Jose Iglesias. Garcia was later flipped to the Chicago White Sox for Jake Peavy.
Oh, and the Tigers got their reliever too. Closer Jose Veras was acquired from the Houston Astros for outfield prospect Danry Vasquez and a player to be named later. Report have stated that the unnamed player will be determined by September 15th, ruling out any players acquired from the 2013 MLB draft.
We've heard your thoughts on both the Iglesias and Veras trades, but now it's time for a doctor's opinion (sorry, had to). Here's how Dave Dombrowski and the Tigers grade out for their moves at the deadline.
Acquiring Jose Veras for Danry Vasquez and PTBNL: A-
Our minor league staff would definitely have graded this one lower. Jordan begrudgingly accepted the necessity of the deal on Monday, starting his column off with the following:
Everyone knew it would happen. The Tigers clearly need bullpen help in order to win the World Series. However, many, including myself, didn't think it would come at this high of a price.
The fact that Vasquez was rated so highly in the Tigers' farm system speaks more to the quality (or lack thereof) in their ranks. Vasquez would barely crack the top 10 in their system, and some Astros fans don't even think he's worthy of a top-15 mention. He's a young outfielder with a lot of upside, but a lot of things have to go right for him to reach his lofty ceiling.
Meanwhile, Veras was one of the better relievers available on the market. Sure, he was available last offseason, but 40+ innings with a sub-3.00 ERA in a closer role will do a lot for your value. If the rumor that the Milwaukee Brewers asked for Nick Castellanos in exchange for Francisco Rodriguez are true, then Dombrowski did well to pull Veras without giving up either of his top two prospects. Veras has a club option for $3.25 million next season, a very reasonable price for a solid back-end option in the bullpen.
Acquiring Jose Iglesias: B+
The Tigers were already going to need a shortstop next season, so it's not surprising that they would acquire one at this year's deadline to avoid the dastardly crop of free agents coming this offseason. However, with Peralta's suspension becoming more and more likely by the day, picking up a young, cost-controlled shortstop is huge.
Iglesias' range and glove are miles better than Peralta's, and will make the lives of all the Tigers' pitchers -- Rick Porcello, in particular -- much easier going down the stretch. Iglesias is also hitting a robust .330/.376/.409 this season, but that is largely thanks to a .376 batting average on balls in play. He won't be a .330 hitter going forward, but if he can maintain a .270-.280 average to buoy a 4.7% career walk rate, he should be fine.
Trading away Avisail Garcia and Brayan Villarreal: C-
This isn't just because of Garcia's throw to nail Coco Crisp in Game 2 of the 2012 ALDS. This isn't just because of Garcia's throw to nail Coco Crisp in Game 2 of the 2012 ALDS. This isn't because of...
Garcia's stock shot up among those familiar with the Tigers' farm system last season when he finally put his considerable potential together, hitting .299/.333/.455 with 14 home runs and 23 stolen bases in 122 games between High-A Lakeland and Double-A Erie. This -- along with the horrible play from every other right fielder in the organization -- earned him a late August call-up in which he hit .319/.373/.319 in 23 games. He tailed off a bit in the postseason, hitting .261/.320/.304 in 25 plate appearances.
There were plenty of reasons to hold onto him. He's an above average corner outfielder with a cannon for an arm. He's 6'4", 240 pounds and projects to have 20+ home run power. He can also steal 20+ bases a year, as we saw last season. He's a legitimate five-tool prospect, and when guys like that get this close to the show, expectations get sky high.
As for Villarreal... sorry, Erin. The old "million-dollar arm, 10-cent head" cliche may be fitting for Villarreal, who seemed to have trouble keeping his emotions in check on the mound in Detroit. He has had some command issues -- what hard-throwing reliever hasn't? -- but those were compounded by his inability to work in tight spots. He has allowed a .791 OPS to hitters with two outs and runners in scoring position in his MLB career, and an .800 OPS to hitters in tie games.
This isn't to say that he still doesn't have potential. There's a reason he's the one shipping up to Boston and not Luke Putkonen or Evan Reed. He has a fastball-slider combo that is lethal when he can locate them. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to do so enough in a Tigers uniform.
Keeping Nick Castellanos: A+
I have been excited for Nick's debut since the middle of last season. This is a homer grade and I don't care who knows it. That said, keeping him instead of Garcia seems like the smart move right now. Castellanos is the better prospect and could feasibly become the best homegrown position player in the Dave Dombrowski era.
This year's deadline isn't the slam dunk that 2011 figured to be, when the Tigers practically stole Doug Fister from the Seattle Mariners. Even at the time, that trade seemed incredibly one-sided. Last year's deal to pick up Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante for Jacob Turner, Rob Brantly, and Brian Flynn was a bit pricier, but the team was desperate for a competent second baseman. Sanchez wasn't a necessity, but it's unclear whether the deal would have been done without him in the fold.
This season, however, it feels a bit different. Yes, Iglesias is an exciting player. He has a prodigious glove and he's only 23 years old. He won't be a free agent until 2018.
But can he hit? If Iglesias hits at an acceptable level for a bottom-of-the-order bat, he's the Tigers' shortstop of the future. If not, he's a utility man. With plenty of glove-first infielders in the organization, it begs the question as to why trading for Iglesias was worth one of our top outfield prospects, especially considering he's on the cusp of being a productive big leaguer.
That said, the immediate need caused by Peralta's pending suspension and the time crunch at the deadline make it tough to be too critical of a pair of moves that undoubtedly improve this team's chances at winning in October. Right now, that's Dombrowski's top priority, and he once again got the job done.