Detroit Tigers: 5 Reasons Trading Jacob Turner Was the Right Decision
On Monday, the Detroit Tigers made of one of the biggest trading splashes of the year by dealing rookie right-handed pitcher Jacob Turner to the Miami Marlins for right-hander Anibal Sanchez and second baseman Omar Infante.
Tigers' minor leaguers Rob Brantly and Brian Flynn were also sent to the Marlins, but Turner, who was once considered Detroit's ace of the future, was the biggest piece of the deal.
Turner was the Tigers No. 9 overall pick in the 2009 amateur draft and made his major league debut on July 30 last season. He was sent back down to the minors after his first career start, and made two more major league starts after the September call-ups, but he wasn't on the playoff roster last October.
Turner made three starts this season, and earned his first career victory in the Tigers' 6-4 win over the Chicago White Sox on Monday, but was sent packing just one day later.
Some people think the Tigers may have made a huge mistake letting Turner's potential go, but here are five reasons why the Tigers made the correct trade:
Something Wasn't Right
Obviously, the Tigers saw something they didn't like in Turner, sending him down to Triple-A Toledo during spring training, and giving the No. 5 spot in the rotation to 23-year-old Drew Smyly.
Turner was battling for the No. 5 spot with Smyly, Duane Below and Adam Wilk (among others), but the 21-year-old right-handed phenom struggled in two of his final starts this spring, including a start which he gave up six runs in one inning against the New York Mets.
After his last couple of rough outings, Turner was forced to be shut down because of shoulder tendinitis in his throwing arm.
The injury, mixed with inconsistency down the stretch in spring training definitely raised some red flags for Tigers management and made Turner, who at one point was considered absolutely untouchable, expendable.
If a relatively unknown player like Smyly—no disrespect to Smyly—could beat out Turner in spring training after two full seasons in the minor leagues, then maybe Turner isn't the phenom people thought he would be.
Tigers' general manager Dave Dombrowski wouldn't trade such a valuable prospect like Turner if Detroit wasn't getting value in return.
The Tigers desperately needed an upgrade at second base and Infante provides a solid replacement, hitting .287 with eight home runs and 33 RBI's in 85 games this season with the Marlins.
Detroit's second basemen were by far the worst by position in baseball so far this year.
Brandon Inge, Ryan Raburn, Ramon Santiago and Danny Worth have combined to hit a league-worst .201 with two home runs and 25 RBI's this season.
Infante's insertion to the second base position will be a seamless transition for him and team considering he spent his first six MLB seasons with Detroit.
After hitting just .253 in his six years with the Tigers, Infante averaged at least .290 in three straight years for the Atlanta Braves, and was named to the National League All-Star team in 2010.
Infante's homecoming even brought a smile to the face of one of the players he'll be replacing. Santiago said he was ecstatic to see the Tigers acquire Infante, and the team will welcome him with open arms.
"It's meaningful when you come to a new team and get a welcome from an All-Star player," Santiago said to the Detroit Free Press. "We're going to make them feel like they're welcome."
Infante said he's happy to come back to Detroit as well—not to mention he went from a team in fourth place in the National League East, to first place in the AL Central.
"It's like coming home," he said to the Free Press. "I'm coming to a great family here. I'm real happy. I'm going to do the best I can do here to keep fighting and keep playing."
Anibal Sanchez's Experience
Since 2010, Sanchez has shown he can be a quality starter, who will throw strikes and win games.
Sanchez has been playing on a bad Marlins team that hasn't had a winning season since 2009, and in 2010, the right-hander managed a winning 13-12 record with a 3.55 ERA.
Since then, Sanchez has improved his strikeout-to-walk ratio with a 3.15/1 K/BB ratio, and an even more economic 3.33/1 ratio this season.
Last season, Sanchez's 202 strikeouts ranked sixth in the National League, trailing superstars like Clayton Kershaw, Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay and Tim Lincecum.
Sanchez has a 3.75 career ERA and made at least 30 in both of the last two seasons. He was a workhorse for the Marlins, throwing 195 innings in 2010, and 196.1 frames last year.
He's only 5-7 this season but his stats with Miami are a little misleading. The Marlins bullpen is among the worst in the NL with a 4.29 ERA, and Miami's scoring offense is third worst in the NL, averaging just 3.74 runs per game.
Perhaps near the top of the priority list, Sanchez is happy moving to Detroit, and invigorated to go from a bad team, to a loaded squad in the middle of a pennant race.
"This team is in a good position right now," he said to the Detroit Free Press. "Right now, I'm here, and I'm glad."
Sanchez has pitched at least six innings in 16 of his 19 starts this year. He's proven pitcher, who can pile up the strikeouts, and with a good offense to help him, he can win more games than he ever did with the Marlins.
This Season's Run at a World Championship
The Tigers want to win the World Series this season.
Turner probably wasn't going to contribute to that endeavor.
Infante and Sanchez will not only make contributions to a run at the 2012 World Championship, but they will be key players down the stretch.
Infante's .287 average is over 85 points higher than Detroit's four second basemen have combined to hit this season, and he has six more homers and eight more RBI's than the Tigers' second basemen this year.
Although Drew Smyly was one of the Tigers biggest surprises in the first half this season, and has been very good in Detroit's No. 5 spot in the rotation, the 23-year-old left-hander is on his second separate stint on the disabled list in two months.
Sanchez had a bad bullpen closing his games in Miami, and the Marlins had an even worse offense.
The Tigers bullpen is as dependable as ever right now, and the offense is red hot, averaging a league-best 5.37 runs per game in July.
The Tigers had sky-high expectations coming into this season, and were runaway favorites to win the division and vie for an appearance in the World Series.
Anything less than an appearance in the ALCS would be a disappointment this season, and Dombrowski and the Tigers organization were willing to give up Turner's potential down the road, for a dream season this year.
"We gave up a lot. We know that," Dombrowski said to MLive.com on Monday. "It hurt to do that, but we made this move to win this season."
Winning World Championships is the ultimate goal every season, isn't it?
This trade was a good decision for the Tigers simply because it means Raburn won't be on the field.
Infante, who's played at least 134 games in each of the last two seasons, only sat out 10 games this season for the Marlins, and will become the Tigers' everyday second baseman.
Which means Raburn will have a permanent seat on the bench, which is exactly where he belongs.
Raburn got the majority of the starts at second for the Tigers this year, hitting a putrid .172 with one home run and 12 RBI's in 60 games. He's struck out 60 times this season, compared to only 12 walks.
For some reason, Leyland had a soft spot for Raburn, electing to keep running him out there, stating that Raburn is a second-half player, and would eventually come around.
The Tigers got smart on May 29, sending Raburn down to Triple-A Toledo, but after hitting .194 with one home run and three RBI's in eight games with the Mud Hens, Raburn was recalled on June 14.
After earning two hits his first game back, Raburn returned to his old, unreliable self, going 13-for-66 (.196) in his last 22 games.
Leyland settled any possible arguments of Infante assuming the same part-time role he had with the Tigers from 2002 to 2007
"He's our second baseman," Leyland said about Infante on Tuesday to the Detroit Free Press.
Which obviously means Raburn will no longer have a major role.
It's about time.