The most surreal moment of the trading deadline Thursday — not counting the MLB Network or Jim Bowden falling for fake transactions — happened at Comerica Park after it became known the Detroit Tigers were trading for ace left-hander David Price in a blockbuster three-way deal.
In the top of the seventh inning, the Tigers pulled outfielder Austin Jackson from their game against the White Sox, with manager Brad Ausmus literally waving Jackson off the field after a 2-2 pitch by Joakim Soria to Gordon Beckham with one out.
Umpires called for time, and a change was made, with Rajai Davis coming out of the Detroit dugout to replace Jackson in center field. Jackson jogged off, blowing bubble gum, and shaking hands on his way out of town to the Seattle Mariners. One of the final players he hugged, right-hander Max Scherzer, had come over with Jackson in another three-way blockbuster trade years earlier. It's possible that Price might become Scherzer's replacement in the rotation next season, seeing as Price is under contract and Scherzer is headed for free agency. But more on that in the coming months. This was Jackson's moment.
Many fans stood and even more applauded for Jackson, who's still just 27 years old but has already compiled four-plus seasons in the majors, batting .277 with a .727 on-base plus slugging to go with four homers and nine stolen bases in 2013. He's also played in 35 postseason games for Detroit.
Here's a longer version of Jackson's adieu:
It happens every season — some call the period #HugWatch — when traded players, upon finding out they're moving, hug their teammates good-bye in the dugout. Often, these players will have been removed ahead of time, or scheduled not to play, because it was known a trade was possible. The Red Sox even skipped Jon Lester's start Wednesday because they knew he was on the verge of playing elsewhere. In Price's case, he had worked out during Tampa Bay's day off, and had said he would be golfing at the deadline.
Though it happens, it's rare for a player to be in the game — and have to come out — when a trade goes down. It's awkward, but can also be sweet and touching.
"I knew what was happening, but at the same time I was in a daze a little bit," Jackson told the Detroit Free Press after the game. "Wanted to go hug out my teammates really.
"One of those situations where, you don’t know what to do. You’re just like stuck."
Here's the full trade as we know it among the Tigers, Mariners and Tampa Bay Rays:
Tigers get: Price
Rays get: Left-hander Drew Smyly (from Tigers), infielder Nick Franklin (from Mariners) and Willy Adames (an 18-year-old shortstop prospect from Tigers)
Mariners get: Jackson
This gives the Tigers the past three AL Cy Young winners in their rotation: Price, Scherzer and Justin Verlander.
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