Fister and Pauley traded
The Mariners have announced that Doug Fister and David Pauley have been traded to the Tigers for Casper Wells, Charlie Furbush, third-base prospect Francisco Martinez, and a player to be named later. Apparently the key to this deal was making sure both sides got equal upside potential for juvenile humor out of the names on the roster.
In terms of the value the team got out of the trade, it’s not half bad. Fister is, of course, a steady starter under team control for several more years, which is valuable, and the deal shows that teams know better than to pay attention to pitcher win-loss records. But he’s being traded at the point of maximum return, considering that he seems to have reached a level of performance that’s about the most optimistic anybody could have projected for him. If he sustains it, good for him and Detroit. Anyone still mourning what Erik Bedard could have brought back if not for last night’s disaster, well, the haul wouldn’t have been nearly as substantial. Pauley is a lesser piece, but he’s also being dealt at pretty much the peak of his value, and keep in mind that he was signed as a minor league free agent.
Wells effectively takes Jack Cust’s roster spot as the front office rebalances bats and arms. Defensively, he’s a corner outfielder with a good arm and the ability to not embarrass himself in center. His bat is decent but not special, making him look tailor-made to be a platoon partner and defensive replacement for Mike Carp. If it also means Greg Halman can go back to AAA when Wily Mo Pena joins the team, great. Expect to see a lot more rotation of guys between the outfield and DH, as this gives Wedge more flexibility to give somebody a day off, use platoon advantages, play the hot hand, or whatever he wants to do. It’s not anything spectacular, but it’s also not blindly writing Peguero’s name in the lineup card day after day.
As a lefty, Furbush sort of explains the Aaron Laffey transaction after last night’s game. He could go back to being a starter, which he’s been in the minors. Perhaps one of the benefits of having put together the currently solid rotation can become breaking in potential future rotation arms in the bullpen, often considered the optimal development path for young pitchers.
Martinez is 20 and already at AA, so promising in that sense, and matches up with the most glaring positional need on the roster. He pretty much hits all the boxes Zduriencik needed to hit to look like he got the “right” prospect back in the trade. Now we watch and hope he develops. The PTBNL is supposed to be a “significant” player, and you can look and see that the Tigers’ top three picks from last year’s draft signed at the deadline and are not eligible to be traded until mid-August, so amateur sleuthing kind of hints in that direction. A supplemental or 2nd-round pick would be decent value, but it also means we’re talking about a straight-to-the-bullpen arm or somebody who’s still in A-ball.
Overall, there’s enough for both sides to feel like they got a fair trade. What may be interesting to consider is how similar the basic outline of the trade is to the structure of the Cliff Lee deal. You have a highly valuable starter (valuable for different reasons, but still valuable) packaged with a more modest bullpen arm in exchange for four players. Obviously, there are differences in terms of the upside and major-league-readiness of the guys coming back to make the trades look different, but when teams are falling into the roles of “buyers” and “sellers” at the trade deadline, they often follow common patterns to match up with their roles.