The last decade has been a whirlwind of ups and downs for the Detroit Tigers. After just missing the playoffs in 2010, they went on to make the postseason in every season from 2011-14, including a World Series appearance in 2012 where they were swept by the San Francisco Giants. But, since 2015, Detroit has been one of the worst ballclubs in baseball.
Last season the Tigers lost an MLB-worst 114 games as they continue to fail at rebuilding their organization. However, with many young prospects in the minors, the hope is that Detroit can slowly turn around their fortunes and become a relevant team in the American League once again. A lot of their struggles in the last number of seasons boils down to awful moves that have been made by the front office. From aces Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander leaving Detroit in recent years, as well as crucial bats like Nicholas Castellanos and J.D. Martinez, the higher-ups have made a lot of bad decisions.
Over the next several weeks Baseball Essential will be doing a series on the best and worst trade every team in Major League Baseball has made over the last decade. Here is the best and worst trade the Detroit Tigers have made since 2010.
The Best Trade the Detroit Tigers Have Made Since 2010: Detroit Acquires David Price in a Three-Team Trade With the Tampa Bay Rays and Seattle Mariners for Willy Adames, Drew Smyly, and Nick Franklin; Austin Jackson Was Traded to the Mariners (July 31, 2014)
The Tigers gave up quite a bit for David Price in this trade, and even though he didn’t last long in a Tigers uniform, he was very impressive. In the heat of a playoff race, they went out and acquired one of the best arms in the game. He went on to make 11 starts in the second half, compiling a 3.59 ERA in 77.2 innings pitched, an average of seven frames per start. Price tossed a combined 248.1 innings between Tampa Bay and Detroit in 2014, while also striking out 271 hitters, both league-bests that season. Although he made just one start in the American League Division Series where they eventually lost to the Baltimore Orioles, the lefty was impressive, throwing eight innings and surrendering just two runs.
He signed a one-year, $19.75 million deal before the 2015 campaign and was named the opening day starter over Justin Verlander. Price went on to make yet another All-Star team while going 9-2 with a 2.38 ERA in the first half. But with the club out of playoff contention, they decided to trade him at the deadline to the Toronto Blue Jays for two young arms in Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris, who have both failed to live up to expectations to this day.
As for the other parts of this trade, Willy Adames is the only one who is an everyday big leaguer. He is Tampa Bay’s everyday shortstop, making his MLB debut in 2018. As for Nick Franklin, he floated around the majors for a while but is now a free agent, while Drew Smyly has struggled to stay healthy.
It would have been ideal to keep Price instead of shipping him off to the Blue Jays in July of 2015, but I understand where the organization was coming from. Detroit could see they were slowly inching closer to a rebuild so acquiring two young arms from the Blue Jays who they could nurture and develop into top-of-the-rotation starters seemed like the logical decision. Unfortunately, that hasn’t worked out for Norris or Boyd.
But it was fun while it lasted with Price, who was utterly dominant in a year with the Tigers.
The Worst Trade the Detroit Tigers Have Made Since 2010: Detroit Acquires Alfredo Simon From the Cincinnati Reds for Eugenio Suarez and Jonathan Crawford (December 11, 2014)
The Tigers were desperate for starting pitching, so they went out and picked up Alfredo Simon from the Reds. However, he was 34 years old at the time and aging more by the day. Simon was coming off a decent year in Cincy the season before, but it was only a matter of time until the righty’s age caught up with him. Unfortunately for Detroit, that was 2015. Although he went 13-12, Simon posted a dismal 5.05 ERA in 31 starts. After just one season in Motown, he went back to Cincinnati, where he ended his career in 2016.
There is no doubt that Simon was disappointing with the Tigers, but the reason this was such a bad trade comes down to who they gave up: Eugenio Suarez. At the time, he was just breaking into the majors, playing 85 games in 2014 for Detroit. Once he arrived in Cincinnati, Suarez slowly turned into a star. In just 97 games in 2015, he hit .280 with 13 home runs.
Then, as each season went on, the power-hitting third baseman saw a dramatic rise in his production, especially home runs. In 2018 he smacked 34 home runs, and last season he smacked 49. Suarez has turned into one of the most feared hitters in the big leagues, spraying the ball all over the diamond with power. The 28-year-old is now one of the most important pieces of the Reds organization.
During his minor-league career with Detroit, Suarez didn’t flash much power at the dish. But as he grew into his body, the Venezuelan found his home-run stroke. To this day, the Tigers are shaking their head about this trade: a one-year rental for Alfredo Simon in exchange for a future star who crushes long balls on a consistent basis.
Stay tuned to Baseball Essential over the next few weeks for more on the best and worst trades made by all 30 MLB clubs over the past 10 years.