It might have been baseball's worst kept secret leading up to the Sunday trade deadline: The Detroit Tigers needed a starting pitcher.
After taking one more crack at the Colorado Rockies' Ubaldo Jimenez(notes) on Friday, but balking at an asking price that reportedly included pitcher Rick Porcello(notes) and top prospect Jacob Turner(notes) (who's making a curious spot start on Saturday), the Tigers decided to look elsewhere. Early on Saturday, they found a match with the Seattle Mariners for right-hander Doug Fister(notes).
Fister, 27, and reliever David Pauley(notes) will be going to Detroit in exchange for pitcher Charlie Furbush(notes), outfielder Casper Wells(notes), Class AA third baseman Francisco Martinez and a player to be named later, reports Danny Knobler of CBS Sports.
At first glance, Fister's 3-12 record doesn't make him look too impressive. Of course, we know far better now to look at all of the other numbers available. For one thing, his 3.33 ERA indicates that he's pitched well enough to win many more games. But the Mariners' lineup has provided a criminal lack of run support. In 16 of his 21 starts this season, Seattle has scored two runs or fewer.
The Tigers are 52-34 when Justin Verlander(notes), Max Scherzer(notes), Rick Porcello and Brad Penny(notes) start, but are 4-16 when a collection of fifth starters have pitched. If they score runs for Fister, his record ought to improve.
One of the reasons he likely cost so much for Detroit is his arbitration status. Fister has all three of his arbitration years remaining, putting him under club control until 2015. That made him valuable to a team like the Mariners, and they weren't going to give that up easily. But even with the raises he'll likely receive over the next three years (he makes $436,500 this season), the Tigers still wouldn't pay Fister as much as he would probably receive in free agency.
In Furbush, who is 25, the Mariners receive a left-hander with strikeout stuff (9.5 per nine innings over four minor league seasons) who's worked as both a reliever and starter this year. He's had much more success out of the bullpen, with a 2.15 ERA and 19 strikeouts (with 11 walks) in 25 innings. The Tigers tried him in their rotation for two starts, but he allowed 12 runs (seven earned) and 14 hits in just 7 1/3 innings.
Frankly, if Furbush pitched better as a starter, the Tigers might not have had to trade for Fister. Though knowing manager Jim Leyland and GM Dave Dombrowski, they would've preferred a veteran as they battle for a division title.
Wells, 26, has bounced between Triple-A and the majors for the Tigers during the past couple of seasons. He can play all three outfield positions and hits for decent power (four homers in 125 plate appearances this year), though Safeco Field is tough on right-handed power hitters. Wells filled in capably in right field while Magglio Ordonez(notes) was on the disabled list earlier this season. (The Seattle Times' Geoff Baker thinks he could even take over in center field, if the M's want to deal Franklin Gutierrez(notes) this offseason.)
The jewel of the deal for the Mariners could end up being Martinez. Baseball America had him ranked fourth among Tigers prospects, and projections had him seeing the majors in 2013. (However, Detroit's top position prospect is 2010 first-round pick Nick Castellanos, also a third baseman, which made Martinez expendable.)
Does this mean the Tigers are done trading? Maybe not.
FOXSports.com's Jon Paul Morosi says the team is trying to make one more deal before Sunday's 4 p.m. ET deadline. There's still some talent left in the cupboard, if Detroit wants to get another pitcher. Triple-A pitcher Andy Oliver(notes) has struggled this season, mostly due to control, but could provide a left-handed strikeout pitcher (8.6 per nine innings). And Dombrowski was reportedly willing to give up Turner in a deal for Jimenez, so he's still presumably available for the right name.
Leyland said Fister's first start for the Tigers will be Wednesday against the Texas Rangers.
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