Dave Dombrowski admits the Tigers are all-in "If we can get David Price and Joakim Soria, we're gonna get 'em and we're gonna go for it."— Bless You Boys (@blessyouboys) July 31, 2014
Dombrowski said this statement was made approximately two weeks prior to the non-waiver trade deadline. He confirmed the obvious, Soria and Price were their top targets going into the stretch drive.
Dombrowski got 'em, and now his Tigers are gonna go for it.
"The future is now" has become the Tigers' mantra.
In acquiring Soria and Price, Dombrowski paid dearly. Soria cost Detroit two of their most highly thought of pitching prospects in 22-year-old reliever Corey Knebel and 20-year-old starter Jake Thompson. Obtaining Price was even more expensive. The trade gutted Detroit's outfield defense in losing 27-year-old Austin Jackson to the Mariners. Drew Smyly, a versatile 25-year-old left-hander who from all accounts was going to be a cornerstone member of Detroit's rotation for the next several years, will now fill that role for the Rays.
That's an amazing amount of youth and big league experience to deal in order to obtain two players who are already expensive and will be even more so when they become free agents after thew 2015 season. There's also no guarantees they will be here past next season. Soria is 30-years-old and has a team option for 2015. The 28-year-old Price is arbitration eligible after this season and will be a free agent at the end of 2015. Price will be one of the most prized players on the market and will be priced as such.
But is there more to the trade deadline madness than plugging roster holes in a mad dash to win a World Series for octogenarian owner Mike Ilitch?
Saying the "championship window is closing" is a cliche. But it just may be true in the Tigers' case. Dombrowski knows the team which has fallen just short of a World Series victory in each of the last three seasons is going look vastly different in 2015 and beyond.
The core Dombrowski has ridden to three straight division titles is aging and getting extremely expensive. Too expensive to keep together. We saw the first changes in the off-season with the trades of the stupidly expensive Prince Fielder and the soon-to-be high priced Doug Fister.
Stars Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera are locked in for the long haul, but both are over 30 and showing signs (admittedly, possibly injury induced) of decline. Anibal Sanchez is also locked in and pitching well, but also over 30. After tuning down a huge contract extension offer, Scott Boras client and reigning Cy Young winner Max Scherzer is as good as gone at the end of this season. In the final years of their contracts are 35-year-old Victor Martinez and 39-year-old Torii Hunter, both of whom are in the lineup every day. Cost-controlled Austin Jackson is a year away from cashing in on a huge free agent contract. Rick Porcello is no longer inexpensive and is two years away from hitting free agency in the prime of his career.
It's safe to say the clock is ticking on this group winning a World Series. It's ticking even faster for the 85-year-old Ilitch, who has been battling health issues and likely doesn't have much interest in worrying about the future. But his heirs do and may have a differing view when it comes to payrolls topping $150 million.
When you add it all together, with change looming on the horizon and the window closing, it really feels as if a game of Hold 'em has broken out. Dombrowski has decided, much like his counterpart on the west coast in Billy Beane, to go all-in. Both are high-stakes poker players know their hand won't get any better than the one they hold at this moment and the time has come to push all the chips they have left onto the table.
Today they flipped their hole cards.
Dombrowski and Beane may have pocket aces, but we'll find out over the next two months what cards they draw on the river. Let's just hope it's Dombrowski who doesn't end up with the bad beat.