Pudge Rodriguez for Kyle Farnsworth? My first reaction was, and who else did the Tigers get? Rodriguez is having a fine season, and there are teams that are really looking for catching help. Besides the Yankees, the Marlins had also inquired and were turned away. In other words it was kind of a sellers market for the Tigers. If he was going to get moved I anticipated it would be for prospects, or something better than the 2 draft picks they would have secured had Pudge declined arbitration. When the return was a non-elite relief pitcher I actually felt ill. After a few moments of reflection though I feel a little less queasy.
Brandon Inge becomes the full time catcher now and he has an of .758 this season (I was actually surprised to see it was that high). Meanwhile Pudge carries a .755 OPS, but with a .295 average. On a starter perspective it’s surprisingly a push. Of course catching depth has been obliterated and there is a huge drop off when the back-up – presumably Dane Sardinha – enters the game. There’s also the issue of whether or not Inge can hit while catching.
As for Farnsworth the Tigers needed bullpen help and he’s having a nice season with a 8.73 K/9, a 3.45 BB/9 (still not that great). But the guy has allowed 11 HOME RUNS THIS YEAR. His 3.65 ERA is buoyed by a 94% LOB rate – far higher than at anytime in his career.
In terms of the other elements of the trade, both players are free agents at the end of the year. Pudge Rodriguez was going to be a Type A free agent meaning he’d bring back 2 draft picks. Farnsworth was a Type B last year, and would likely be one again this year meaning they’ll get 1 draft pick. So they give up a draft pick in this deal presuming both players were to get offered arbitration and declined. The Tigers save a couple million in the process as Pudge was out earning Farnsworth by about $7 million this year.
Farnsworth kind of fills a need, but not that well. The Tigers don’t take a huge hit in terms of production and aren’t giving up on the season. But my issue is that I think the Tigers could have done better for Pudge. He’s having a good year at a hard to fill position. Factor in the loss of a draft pick and it’s not good. No young player coming back? Not awful, but Dave Dombrowski failed to maximize Pudge’s value. Yankees win this one easy.