Following a flurry of offseason changes, the Detroit Tigers sit atop of the American League Central with a 12-9 record.
Here’s an early look at general manager Dave Dombrowski’s offseason trades report card:
Prince Fielder trade
Detroit shocked the baseball world when they dealt Prince Fielder (along with cash considerations) to the Texas Rangers in return for Ian Kinsler. The trade allowed for Miguel Cabrera to move back to first base, helped the Tigers become more athletic in the field as well as the basepaths, and reduced their overall financial commitment (in dollars and in time).
Fielder: .216 batting average, 12 runs, 2 HR, 8 RBI, .343 on-base percentage
Kinsler: .278 batting average, 15 runs, 2 HR, 14 RBI, 3 stolen bases
Aside from what Kinsler has brought to the Tigers on the field, there were a handful of issues with Fielder off the field. It was time for a fresh start, for all parties involved. Kinsler has been a catalyst to the Tigers offense thus far.
Doug Fister trade
The Tigers dealt starting pitcher Doug Fister to the Washington Nationals in exchange for left-handed pitchers Ian Krol and Robbie Ray and utility infielder Steve Lombardozzi. The trade allowed Drew Smyly to return to the starting rotation, strengthened the bullpen, and added a solid prospect to the organization.
Fister: Has yet to make an appearance in 2014. Started the season on the 15-day disabled list with a right-lat strain.
Krol: 11 appearances, 8.0 IP, 3 ER (3.38 ERA), 6 strikeouts, .219 opp. avg.
Ray: (AAA-Toledo) 2-2 record (4 starts), 1.93 ERA, 23.1 IP, 16 strikeouts, 5 walks
Lombardozzi: (traded to Baltimore Orioles) .309 avg. (21-68), 6 runs, 2 RBI
Fister was eventually granted a $7 million pay increase and rumors have surfaced that he has been experiencing some issues with his throwing elbow, aside from the lat injury. Krol has pitched decently to this point and Lombardozzi appears to be a solid second baseman, unfortunately he’s no longer with Detroit- and neither is the guy who the Tigers traded him for (Alex Gonzalez).
The main reason why I give the Dombrowski a “B” here is because the potential in Ray. He’s jumped Detroit’s prospect rankings and is currently the second-best in the organization. He’s expected to be a middle of the rotation starter and could possibly make that transition this season.
Lombardozzi to Baltimore
Following Jose Iglesias’ diagnosis, the Tigers were looking to bring in a veteran at the shortstop position. Detroit traded Lombardozzi, who is more of a second baseman than a shortstop, for veteran Alex Gonzalez.
Gonzalez delivered a clutch hit on Opening Day to give Detroit a walk-off victory but he clearly couldn’t produce at the plate or in the field at this stage of his career. Ultimately, Gonzalez was let go and the Orioles possibly found a starter at second.
Acquiring Andrew Romine
Before sending Lombardozzi to Baltimore, the Tigers traded pitching prospect Jose Alvarez to the Los Angeles Angels for utility infielder Andrew Romine. Alvarez wasn’t quite ready when brought up to the big leagues in 2013 and Romine has served as the Tigers’ primary shortstop.
Alvarez: (AAA) 3 starts (0-1), 14.1 IP, 6.28 ERA, 7 strikeouts. Only 2 MLB appearances (0.2 IP)
Romine: .229 avg. (8-35), 1 RBI, 7 walks, 3 steals
Romine has been consistent in the field but not at the plate. He also provides speed on the bases. Alvarez has the potential to become a major-league starter but has yet to show any signs of excellence this season. This deal could turn into a bust if he has success in the big leagues, but for now it’s playing out in the Tigers’ favor.