On Wednesday evening, Detroit Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski announced to the rest of Major League Baseball that the Tigers were "rebooting," and were willing to trade their pending free agents to the highest bidder. On Thursday, the Tigers found those bidders, and traded David Price to the Toronto Blue Jays.
In return, the Tigers received left-handed pitchers Daniel Norris, Matt Boyd and Jairo Labourt. Norris, a consensus top-20 prospect in all of baseball, headlines the return, but the other pitchers also have some decent upside. Norris will begin his Tigers career on Sunday, pitching against the Baltimore Orioles. Boyd has been sent to Triple-A Toledo, while Labourt will head to Double-A Erie.
For most, this was a trade that had to be done, as the Tigers pitching overall has simply has not been that good this season, and this gives them much more to work with for the future.
Where #Tigers team pitching ranks in AL this year: 13th in ERA (4.45); 12th in K/9 (7.01); 1st in HR/9 (1.14); 14th in FIP (4.22).— Catherine Slonksnis (@CSlonksnis) July 29, 2015
Tigers team built on pitching during the Dombrowski era, and a club that had seen pitching disintegrated in 2015, has three new LHers.— Lynn G. Henning (@Lynn_Henning) July 30, 2015
With this trade, many feel as though the Tigers did a good job at replenishing a farm system that was completely depleted from all of the deals that Dombrowski has made in the past. Each one of them has a power arm with some secondary pitches that vary in effectiveness, and from the looks of it, each has struggled with command at some point in their early careers. However, each has their own positives, as all three prospects would be placed in the top 10 prospects of the Tigers' farm system.
All 3 prospects acquired by #Tigers o far today would immediately slot into their Top 10 prospects...Norris #1, Labourt and Boyd 7-10 range.— Mark Anderson (@ProspectMark) July 30, 2015
Of the three of them, Labourt is the player that needs the most development. He's a 21-year-old pitcher worth a potential 1.9 WAR, according to Fangraphs. He had been pitching decently in High-A ball from 2012 to 2014, where he posted a 2.71 ERA. Although 2015 has not been as consistent, more refining in the minors could be particularly helpful.
On Labourt, I have a lengthy history dating back to 2012; FB and SL have progressed very well, but CH lags along with control. Project.— Mark Anderson (@ProspectMark) July 30, 2015
Boyd is a bit further along in his development. At the moment, he is worth an estimated 2.6 WAR, and so far has earned a 1.68 ERA and 2.92 FIP down in Double and Triple-A. However, he was hit around in his two major league starts last year, raking up a 14.85 ERA. Yet, this did not stop Dombrowski from debating between who should start between him and Norris.
Dave Dombrowski said they debated who to pitch -- Norris or Boyd -- Sunday in Price's spot in the rotation.— Chris Iott (@Chris_Iott) July 30, 2015
Norris has not only drawn attention for his talent, but also his quirkiness. He is a pitcher with an estimated 4.8 WAR with a lot of raw talent. He made the Blue Jays starting rotation this season, but still had some kinks that needed to be worked out, as his strikeout rate decreased this season. Despite that, he still has good enough stuff to be ranked as the No. 3 left-handed pitching prospect in the minors. He also is known for shaving his beard with an ax and living in a van during the offseason.
Norris has ingredients to throw more strikes; raw stuff is high quality with FB/SL standing out; had minor surgery in off-season.— Mark Anderson (@ProspectMark) July 30, 2015
Daniel Norris- #3 LHP prospect in baseball. In the offseason, Norris lives by choice in a 1978 Volkswagen Westfalia van, nicknamed "Shaggy"— John Keating (@JohnKeatingFSD) July 30, 2015
Overall, the Tigers managed to get a good haul for Price that should be able to help contribute to the team both immediately and in the future. Neil Weinberg of New English D summarized the moves quite well.
Put it together, and the Tigers did a nice job today. Not only did they just acquire their two best prospects, but they probably can move them to the rotation almost immediately, counting on them to be real contributors for 2016. When the dust settles, it’s Smyly-Jackson-Adames for a 6 WAR season of Price, and then Norris, Boyd, and Labourt. The Tigers might not have acquired more talent than they gave up a year ago, but they certainly acquired enough to make it totally worth it by every definition.
We'll see what Dave Dombrowski has in store on Friday.