On day four of the 2014 Winter Meetings, the Tigers officially announced two trades with the Boston Red Sox and the Cincinnati Reds Thursday afternoon. In all, the deals involved seven players, four of which are headed to Detroit. The Tigers gain some power at the plate by doing so, but they also lost a solid starting pitcher in the process.
In exchange for sending right-handed starter Rick Porcello to Boston, the Tigers received three players. Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes joins the Tigers organization along with right-handed pitcher Alex Wilson and left-hander Gabe Speier.
The Tigers also acquired right-handed starter Alfredo Simon from the Reds in exchange for infielder Eugenio Suarez and righty Jonathon Crawford. In order to make room on the 40-man roster, the Tigers then designated Melvin Mercedes for assignment.
"Cespedes is a dynamic all-around player who hits for power, provides solid run production and will play left field," Tigers President and GM Dave Dombrowski said. "Alfredo (Simon) had a fine season last year, made the National League All Star team, and we're excited to him have join our ballclub."
Simon will immediately join the starting rotation, joining Justin Verlander, David Price, Anibal Sanchez, and recently acquired righty Shane Greene. The Tigers expect Wilson to compete for a position on the team during Spring Training, and Speier is a prospect the organization's scouts have been interested in.
With the move to Detroit, Cespedes will patrol left field, having played for three teams within the span of two seasons. He bat .260/.301/.450 between time with the A's and the Red Sox, finishing with 22 home runs, 100 RBI, 36 doubles, and 89 runs scored. With former Tiger Torii Hunter no longer in the lineup, the Tigers needed power and Cespedes provides that for the team.
"That's a good chunk of offense that we had to replace and I think this guy clearly does it," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus told reporters. "In addition, he's a solid leftfielder with one of the best arms in the game."
In 18 games at the major league level in 2014, Wilson had a 1.91 ERA, allowing six earned runs over the course of 28 1/3 innings. At the minor league level, Wilson retained a 30-16 record, posting a 3.82 ERA in 434 innings-pitched. He had 396 strikeouts in 154 games (68 games started) over six seasons.
A groundball pitcher, Speier has a 1.64 ERA and a 0.88 WHIP in 33 innings at the Rookie Level. He has held opposing batters to a .221 batting average, striking out 32 and allowing just one walk in 12 games.
Filling into the starting rotation, Simon had a 3.44 ERA with 127 strikeouts in 196 1/3 innings over the course of 32 games in 2014. The righty gave up 75 runs, 22 home runs, and 56 walks. Simon's 4.33 FIP was the 11th-worst among qualified starters in 2014 and he had a WHIP of 1.207.
After breaking into the majors with the Tigers, Porcello leaves Detroit with a career 4.30 ERA in 1073 1/3 innings-pitched, and a FIP of 4.03. In 184 games (180 games started), the 25-year-old struck out 655 batters while allowing just 111 home runs in his six years with the Tigers.
In 2014, Porcello posted a career-high 204 2/3 innings, striking out 129 batters, and putting up three shutouts. He allowed no balks or wild pitches in both categories for the first time in his career, had the lowest FIP of his career (3.67), and had a career-best 1.8 BB/9. The righty allowed 18 home runs, walked 41 batters, and finished with a 15-13 record. He joins the Red Sox with no injury history and is coming off a career-year.