The Detroit Tigers did not expect to enter the 2015 trade deadline as sellers, but the club’s playoff hopes were rapidly disappearing as the end of July approached. While it is certainly more exciting to make a big acquisition before a playoff push, Tigers fans got to experience the other side of the action for the first time in a while.
All three players that the Tigers moved at the 2015 deadline were pending free agents, and none of them were guaranteed to re-sign with Detroit. It made sense to trade them if the return was great, and each move did bring back a worthwhile haul. Restocking the system with players like Michael Fulmer, Daniel Norris, and Matt Boyd was absolutely the right decision, but it was sad to see some great players traded away.
Let’s take a look at how these three ex-Tigers have fared over the last year.
The centerpiece of the deadline action for the Tigers last season was David Price, who was sent to the Toronto Blue Jays for a package of three young pitchers. After joining the Jays, he continued to be one of the best pitchers in baseball, sporting a 2.30 ERA and 2.22 FIP in 11 starts with 10.53 strikeouts per nine innings. However, the playoffs were once again a battle for Price, and he struggled to a 6.17 ERA in three postseason starts.
During the offseason Price signed a seven-year, $217 million deal with the Boston Red Sox. His first couple months did not go well, giving up 37 runs in his first 10 starts. Since then, Price has found better results, although his ERA this season remains above 4.50. Still, his strikeout and FIP numbers remain solid, giving good reason to believe that Price has been better than his ERA indicates.
As good as Yoenis Cespedes was with the Tigers, he was even better after joining the New York Mets in August. Cespedes ended up hitting .287/.337/.604 in New York with 17 home runs in 57 games with a 157 wRC+. Unfortunately, this dominance did not carry into the postseason despite a World Series appearance. Cespedes hit just .222 with 59 wRC+ and two homers in 14 playoff games.
In January, Cespedes signed a three-year deal to return to New York, although he can opt out after this season. He has continued to thrive with the Mets, hitting .297 and already eclipsing 20 home runs. His 151 wRC+ ranks second among outfielders and eighth among all qualified hitters. Surprisingly, advanced defensive metrics have him on pace for the worst defensive season of his career with his -5 DRS and -10.4 UZR.
Though Joakim Soria was closing for the Tigers in 2015, the Pittsburgh Pirates acquired him to be a setup man for their playoff run. Soria continued to pitch well after the trade, recording a 2.03 ERA and 1.93 FIP in 29 appearances. He upped his strikeout rate from 21.8 percent in Detroit to 26.2 with Pittsburgh and pitched a scoreless inning in the Wild Card game against the Chicago Cubs.
Soria chose to return to the team with whom he spent his first five seasons, the Kansas City Royals. He entered the year as a setup man in a dominant Royals bullpen, but his season has not gone well. Many of Soria’s numbers are on pace for career worsts, and his 4.19 ERA, -1.20 WPA, and -0.86 RE24 make his three-year, $25 million contract look very questionable.