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December deals have been a key to Tigers' success

Transactions made around the time of winter meetings have had a major impact on the Tigers roster, past and present. Al Avila has gotten an early start this off season.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tigers general manager Al Avila has wasted no time in upgrading the club's roster this offseason in an effort to restore the team to contender status. The Detroit Tigers have acquired three key players before December 1, giving the club one of the earliest winter starts they have had in what promises to be one of their busiest off seasons in recent memory.

Team executives will gather at the MLB Winter Meetings next week to wheel and deal players in an effort to upgrade their rosters for the following season. Not all deals are completed during the four days that the meetings actually take place, but the first half of December has been a crucial time just about every year for the Tigers and most other clubs. Despite the flurry of activity in November, Avila heads to Nashville with plenty of work to do. Here is a look at the December deals over the past eight years and their impact on the Tigers' roster, past and present.

December 2014

The deals:

  • Tigers traded 2B Domingo Leyba and LHP Robbie Ray to Arizona Diamondbacks; New York Yankees traded RHP Shane Greene to Detroit; Arizona traded SS Didi Gregorius to New York
  • Cincinnati Reds traded RHP Alfredo Simon to Detroit Tigers for SS Eugenio Suarez and RHP Jonathon Crawford.
  • Tigers traded RHP Rick Porcello to Boston Red Sox for LF Yoenis Cespedes, RHP Alex Wilson and LHP Gabe Speier.

Impact: Simon and Greene failed to give the Tigers the starting pitching they needed to contend in 2015. Greene is a candidate for either the starting rotation or the bullpen in 2016. Wilson turned out to be the team's most reliable relief pitcher. Speier was flipped to Atlanta in the trade for Cameron Maybin. The departure of Cespedes after a four-month rental has left a large hole in the Tigers' outfield that likely won't be filled any time soon. Losing Crawford and Suarez has further depleted the Tigers' farm system.

December 2013

The big deal: Detroit Tigers traded RHP Doug Fister to Washington Nationals for LHP Ian Krol, 2B Steve Lombardozzi and LHP Robbie Ray.

Impact: Fister's departure moved Drew Smyly from reliever to starter, leaving a hole in the bullpen that has yet to be filled. Ray was dealt for Greene, and Krol for Maybin, but the return for Fister has yet to pay dividends for Detroit.

Under the radar: Detroit Tigers signed free agent RF Ezequiel Carrera to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training. Carrera helped to fill the void later in the season after Austin Jackson was dealt in the trade for David Price.

December 2012

The deal: Detroit Tigers signed free agent RHP Anibal Sanchez

Impact: Sanchez won the ERA title the following season, and remains a key part of the Tigers' rotation and a big salary on the payroll

Under the radar: Acquired Kyle Lobstein and Jeff Kobernus in trades through the Rule 5 draft.  Kobernus was returned to Washington, but Lobstein remains as a sixth starter or long reliever on the Detroit roster.

December 2011

The deals:

  • Washington Nationals traded RHP Collin Balester to Detroit Tigers for RHP Ryan Perry.
  • Tigers signed free agent RHP Octavio Dotel.

Impact: Dotel was quietly the Tigers most effective relief pitcher en route to winning the AL pennant. The great relief draft of 2008 was officially declared a total bust for the bullpen as the former first round selection was shipped out. The lack of more bullpen help would plague the Tigers in 2012 and beyond.

December, 2010

The deals: Signed Magglio Ordonez to a one year, $10 million contract.

Impact: After declining his option for the 2011 season, the Tigers brought their beloved star back for a farewell tour. After missing the playoffs in 2010, the club got their work done in November by signing free agents Jhonny Peralta, Joaquin Benoit, Al Alburquerque, and Victor Martinez, setting themselves up for a string of four division titles.

December 2009

The big deal:

  • New York Yankees Traded CF Austin Jackson and LHP Phil Coke to Detroit Tigers
  • Detroit Tigers Traded CF Curtis Granderson to New York Yankees
  • Arizona Diamondbacks Traded LHP Daniel Schlereth and RHP Max Scherzer to Detroit Tigers
  • Detroit Tigers Traded RHP Edwin Jackson to Arizona Diamondbacks
  • New York Yankees Traded RHP Ian Kennedy to Arizona Diamondbacks

Impact: Scherzer became the ace of the Tigers' rotation, winning a Cy Young award in 2013. Jackson was the team's center fielder until being traded for David Price in 2014. Coke remained in the bullpen four more seasons, making both positive and negative impact at times. Schlereth was another bullpen bust.

December 2008

The deals:

  • Acquired RHP Edwin Jackson from the Tampa Bay Rays for OF Matt Joyce.
  • Acquired C Gerald Laird from the Texas Rangers for RHP Guillermo Moscoso and RHP Carlos Melo.
  • Signed SS Adam Everett to a one-year contract.
  • Signed C Matt Treanor to a one-year contract.

Impact: Jackson started 10-5 before tanking down the stretch as the team lost the division title in Game 163. He then was flipped in the trade for Scherzer and Austin Jackson. Everett was the team's shortstop starting the next two seasons, saving payroll.

December 2007

The big deal: Acquired LHP Dontrelle Willis and 3B Miguel Cabrera from the Florida Marlins in exchange for RHP Burke Badenhop, RHP Eulogio De La Cruz, RHP Dallas Trahern, LHP Andrew Miller, C Mike Rabelo and OF Cameron Maybin

Impact: Cabrera has won four batting titles, two MVP awards and is under contract through at least 2022. The team's future is tied to him and his contract for the foreseeable future. Willis was part of a rotation that fell apart and became an albatross on the payroll that led to the great reboot after the 2009 season.