Tigers President and General Manager, Dave Dombrowski, has a reputation for making successful trades. The team’s record of three consecutive division titles and two American League Pennants over the past seven seasons speaks for itself. But how have Dombrowski’s trades prior to the trade deadline fared overall? Here are the best and worst trades that Dombrowski has made in July as Tigers' GM.
No 5: July 5, 2002: In Dombrowski’s early years, the Tigers were sellers in July. Starting pitcher Jeff Weaver was traded to the New York Yankees in a three-way trade with the Oakland A’s that brought Jeremy Bonderman, Franklyn German, and Carlos Pena to Detroit. Considering where the Tigers were in the standings, and the fact that Weaver was unlikely to stick around Detroit once he got the chance to leave, you would have to say that the Tigers got a nice return in that deal. Pena had his ups and downs as the starting first baseman over the next three seasons, leading the team in home runs in 2004, and German was a serviceable relief pitcher on some bad teams. But Bonderman was the key for Detroit in this deal, being part of a rotation that went to the World Series before injuries ended his success.
No 4: July 31, 2006: Dombrowski acquired Sean Casey from Pittsburgh for minor league reliever Brian Rogers. Chris Shelton, who had gone from red hot to ice cold, was optioned to Toledo to make room for "the mayor." Casey was a welcome addition. Although he hit only .245 with five home runs for the remainder of the season, he batted .529/.556/1.000/1.556 in the World Series, at a time when the Tigers bats went cold. Casey was a free agent after the 2006 season, but agreed to a one-year extension at half his salary. He hit .292 with very little power in his second season in Detroit.
No 3: July 28, 2010: The Tigers, who were out of the pennant race, acquired Jhonny Peralta from the Cleveland Indians for left-handed minor league pitcher Giovanni Soto. The Tribe even paid most of Peralta's contract for the rest of the season to get him off their hands. The Tigers declined Peralta's option at the end of the season and signed him to a multi-year extension. He went on to regain his status as an all-star shortstop and was one of the better hitters in the Tiger lineup for three more seasons.
No 2: July 23, 2012: Dombrowski acquired second baseman Omar Infante, starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez, and a supplemental first round draft pick (used for Cory Knebel) from the Miami Marlins in exchange for pitcher Jacob Turner, catcher Rob Brantly, and relief pitcher Brian Flynn. All of the players in this trade have seen time in the major leagues, but in terms of productivity, there is no comparison. It took a five year, $80 million contract to extend Sanchez, so that cost has to be factored in, but the Tigers win this trade, hands down.
No 1: July 30, 2011: The Tigers acquired starting pitcher Doug Fister, along with relief pitcher David Pauley, from the Seattle Mariners for OF Casper Wells, 3B Francisco Martinez, and relief pitchers Charlie Furbush and Chance Ruffin. From 2011 through 2013, Fister ranked sixth in the league in fWAR, fourth in BB/9, first in HR/9, and seventh in K/BB. You could factor in extensions for players such as Sanchez, Casey, and Peralta, and that makes those deals look even sweeter. But even with the minimal return that the Tigers got for Fister when he was traded with two years of club control remaining, taking the trades in isolation, independent of other transactions, this was easily Dombrowski's best deadline deal.
July 31, 2009: The Tigers acquired left-handed starting pitcher, Jarrod Washburn, from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for left-handed pitcher Luke French, and 19-year-old pitcher Mauricio Robles. French was used as a spot starter for Detroit, and found a place in Seattle's rotation off and on. Robles was waived, picked up by the Philadelphia Phillies and called up briefly in 2013 before being released. He is now in the White Sox organization.
Washburn was a veteran pitcher and a key member of the Anaheim Angels' world champion rotation in 2002. He was American league pitcher of the month in July, with an ERA of 2.64 and a WHIP of 1.06 for the season. It looked like the Tigers had made a key acquisition as they surely were headed for the post season. As it turned out, Washburn made just eight starts for the Tigers, totaling 43 innings, going 1–3 with a 7.33 ERA. Even a replacement level pitcher might have been enough to give the Tigers the one win that they needed to claim their division, but it was not to be. Although this trade didn't work out, Dombrowski gets credit for what looked like a good deal at the time. When paired with the August acquisition of Aubrey Huff, who went from red hot to ice cold after coming to Detroit, the deals of 2009 go down as the on clear bust among Dave Dombrowski's deadline deals.
To Be Determined:
July 31, 2013: Dombrowski acquired shortstop Jose Iglesias from the Boston Red Sox in a three-way trade with the Chicago White Sox, giving up outfielder Avisail Garcia and relief pitcher Brayan Villarreal. So far, the Red Sox win and everyone else loses in this trade. Iglesias and Garcia missed the entire 2014 seasons with injuries, while Peavy and Villarreal have World Series rings. There is still a lot of baseball to be played by the injured players, and Peavy is back to struggling this season as he heads toward free agency, so the jury is still out. Still, I'd take the ring and take my chances with the rest.
Kyle Farnsworth was twice involved in Dombrowski's deadline deals, both in years when the Tigers were sellers. On July 31, 2005, he was sent to he Atlanta Braves for Zach Miner and Roman Colon, on July 31, the last day before the deadline. Farnsworth had been filling in as the closer after Troy Percival was lost for the season and Ugueth Urbina was shipped out for Placido Polanco. The transaction was viewed as though Dombrowski ran the white flag up the pole in center field on the season, for all to see. That season was also the end of Alan Trammell’s tenure as Tiger manager.
On July 30, 2008, the Tigers reacquired Farnsworth from New York for Ivan Rodriguez. The last place Tigers gave Pudge a shot to win with the Yankees and saved about $5 million in the process. Farnsworth made no secret about the fact that he didn't like the trade to Detroit.
On July 20, 2011, the Tigers acquired Wilson Betemit for two minor league players, and on July 29, 2013, Detroit traded minor leaguer Danry Vasquez to the Houston Astros for relief pitcher Jose Veras. Both players turned out to be rentals.
Things were very quiet in July of 2003 and 2004. In fact, no trades were made at all. In 2007, the Tigers were running second to the Indians, but didn't make any trades involving major league players.