Thursday morning, shortly after the terms of the Porcello for Cespedes trade had been agreed to, Dave Dombrowski announced that the Tigers had acquired SP Alfredo Simon from the Cincinnati Reds for SS Eugenio Suarez, and Single A RHP Jonathon Crawford. Although the Porcello trade wasn't official at the time the other trade was announced, Alfredo Simon will seemingly jump into the rotation spot vacated by Rick. Again, notice how I said seemingly...
I'll be the first to say that I was all for trading Porcello for Cespedes, and think that the Tigers got a fair return overall. However, I did not think that the organization would look to someone of Simon's caliber to fill the vacated rotation spot. Yes, Alfredo Simon was an All Star last season, but that in no way makes him an upgrade in the rotation. Simon had a 4.33 FIP in 2014, eleventh worst in all of Major League Baseball among qualified starters. His ERA of 3.44 was good, but a lot of that can be attributed to having a .265 BABIP, and a nice amount of luck. Simon has been known for over performing his peripherals throughout his career, but that is never something that is smart to bet on.
As of today, and just like Friday after the Shane Greene trade, the Tigers are back to having a full five man rotation. Currently the Tigers have David Price, Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez, Shane Greene, and now Alfredo Simon all under contract for 2015. In terms of projected Wins Above Replacement from Steamer, that goes in order as Price (4.0), Anibal Sanchez (2.6), Justin Verlander (2.1), Shane Greene (0.8), and finally Simon, who is projected for a seriously underwhelming 0.4 WAR.
However, Alfredo Simon has experience as a reliever in the past, and actually has pretty encouraging stuff coming out of the pen. It's very well possible that in the grand scheme of the offseason that Dave Dombrowski plans on moving him to the bullpen, and acquiring yet another starting pitcher. Historically, Dombrowski likes there to be absolutely no uncertainty in his rotation, and both Simon and Greene present a lot of gray area at the back end of it. Moving Simon to the bullpen after acquiring another starting pitcher would more than likely be beneficial to the Tigers, but that's most likely farther down the offseason road. After Thursday's flurry of moves, I can confidently say that I have no idea what comes next for Dave Dombrowski.
Regardless of what happens, the Tigers' rotation as it currently stands is good. It's not going to be as great as recent years, and it will definitely not eat as many innings as we are use to seeing, but it's not a bad rotation. I think the case can easily be made that the Tigers no longer have the best rotation in the AL Central division. After acquiring Jeff Samardzija from the Oakland Athletics, the Chicago White Sox now have a top three of Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, and the Shark. The Tigers top three can reach that level, but it's going to take healthy bounce backs from both Verlander and Sanchez.