Yesterday, the Tigers joined the imminent-trade-deadline mania that has already engulfed Oakland and Anaheim, acquiring Joakim Soria from the Rangers for prospects Jake Thompson and Corey Knebel. Thatâ€™s probably not news to anyone who happens to be trolling baseball blog websites such as this one, but it had to be said. Now letâ€™s get down to the nitty-gritty.
Soriaâ€™s numbers this year have been of the unworldly, Uehera-esque sort, with The Joaker sporting a 2.70 ERA, a ridiculous K:BB ratio of better than 11:1, and a fielding-independent ERA of about 1. Yep, 1. As in, the lowest whole number there is. Whatâ€™s more, Soria has a relatively affordable $8 million team option for next year, which likely makes this an 18-month â€śrental.â€ť
Looking around the league, there probably isnâ€™t (wasnâ€™t) a better relief arm available, making Soriaâ€™s addition one that is hard to grapple with. And after watching Uehara shut the Tigers down so effectively during last yearâ€™s ALCS, combined with the annual Detroit bullpen woes that reared their ugly head again in 2014, this is a deal for Tigers fans to get excited about.
The only thing I would note here is that Joaquin Benoit, who the Tigers let go of in the offseason, is just about as good and makes just about as much money as Soria. So, if the Tigers had re-signed Benoit last winter, this move, or a move of this magnitude, might not have been necessary. Just saying’.
I also expect this to be the first of what could be another one or even two moves to further solidify the bullpen, with names like Antonio Bastardo, James Marshall, and Wesley Wright (all lefties, the first a current Phillie, the latter two currently playing on Chicagoâ€™s Northside) being bandied about as possible future Detroiters as well.
The bullpen was the one major weakness on this Tigers squad, and, as always, Trader Dave stepped up to the plate and made the necessary move. At this point, itâ€™s fairly clear that the Aâ€™s, Angels, and Tigers make up the cream of the American League crop. And with Detroit a virtual lock for the playoffs, itâ€™s now just a matter of gaining better positioning for the postseason tournament, which Soriaâ€™s addition certainly accomplishes.
But, what about the prospects? you ask. First off, can I mention how overvalued prospects have become? Us baseball nerds spend so much time searching through the minor league stat pages and Top-100 prospect lists that many of us start to assume every warm body with an ERA under 4 or an OBP higher than .350 is set to become a future major league All-Star.
Of course, that isnâ€™t really the case. Moreover, Dombrowski has about as good a track record as anyone in the game of determining which prospects are worth moving (see, Jacob Turner and the package of ne’er-do-wells he sent to Seattle in the Fister trade). So, while Jake Thompson might become a serviceable starter in a couple of years, and Knebel could reach his late-inning shutdown artist ceiling at some point in 2016 or so, no one should be losing any sleep over their departure from the organization.
The championship window is now, ladies and gents. Soria opens that window a bit farther. And, at this point, thatâ€™s all any self-respecting Tigers fan should care about.
Kudos to you, Dave. Now letâ€™s see what else you can bring us before the July 31st curtain comes down. Iâ€™ll take a Chad Qualls and/or one of the aforementioned lefties, please.
And now for something completely different…
For your viewing pleasure: