We knew that several big names could potentially be on the move before Thursday’s trade deadline, but there’s a big difference between “potentially” and “actually.”
And what we got, was “actually.”
“Yesterday was a crazy day,” former general manager and current MLB Network Radio Host Jim Duquette said on The Morning Show. “This is my 23rd year in the game, and I cannot remember a trade deadline where you had this number of players getting traded for other major league players. Usually, you’re trading prospects for major league players, No. 1. No. 2, the quality of the players – usually you get one quality guy that goes and becomes a blockbuster. You had two yesterday. (David) Price and (Jon) Lester. It was one of those I think we’ll remember for a long time.”
Indeed, Oakland continued its all-in push, adding Lester to pair with Jeff Samardzija. The A’s, however, paid the price both times, first in the form of prospects and then in the form of Yoenis Cespedes.
“Oh, they’re going to miss him a lot,” Duquette said. “They have a really good team – they have the best record in baseball – but the balance they had (with) their offense and their pitching was what I think made them really god. So taking Cespedes out of the lineup, he’s a force.”
Cespedes’ batting average (.256) wasn’t much to write home about, but he had plenty of power (17 home runs, 67 RBIs) and played great defense in the outfield.
“I think you need those type of hitters in the postseason to face off against the good pitching; they can help you win games,” Duquette said. “They have a pretty good offense still, but (it’s not going to be what it was).”
Detroit, meanwhile, countered Oakland’s punch with a haymaker, acquiring Price from Tampa Bay. The Tigers now boast the three previous AL Cy Young winners in Price, Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer.
The only question now is, who’s going to bullpen? Starting rotations shorten in the postseason, and there’s simply not enough room for Anibal Sanchez, who led the AL in ERA last year, and Rick Porcello, who leads the team in ERA (3.24) this year.
“It’s a good problem to have,” Duquette said. “I think Porcello always seems to get the short end of the stick, and I’d hate to see him do it, but it’ll be either he or Sanchez. That could change (if) Verlander has a bad first outing in the ALDS. Maybe they put him in the bullpen. If you put him in a role like we saw with (Tim) Lincecum a couple years ago, I think he’d be incredible. But I don’t think they would do it.”
Verlander is 9-9, his velocity has diminished, he has a 4.79 ERA and 1.44 WHIP, and he has ‘just’ 105 strikeouts in 142.2 innings.
“He knows he’s not right, but I don’t think he would handle it well,” Duquette said of going to the bullpen. “I think if you asked him to do it, he would say no.”
Then again, Verlander has much more value as a No. 3 starter than as a No. 2. That’s what adding a pitcher like Price, who went 5-1 with a 1.74 ERA in July, can do for you.
“I think he does two things for them,” Duquette said of Price. “First off, he makes them the frontrunner (in the AL). Regardless of how well Oakland is playing, (the Tigers are) the frontrunner because their pitching staff – at least their starting rotation – is the (better) of the two teams. Now, the bullpen you can debate it. I think Oakland’s is a little bit better, but Detroit got a lot better.”
“But No. 2, the money that you were going to give to Max Scherzer that he declined, you can offer to David Price. You have him under control for next year, but you could offer it to David Price. He might just say yes because that kind of money hasn’t even been thrust into his face with Tampa. They weren’t even talking about that. He might just take it and now you have David Price long-term.”
“So there’s a couple of options. But the main thing is this year it helps you and next year it gives you protection without Scherzer.”