Tigers get Washburn

The Tigers bolstered their rotation today by acquiring Jarrod Washburn from the Mariners. The Tigers give up Luke French and Mauricio Robles.

I’ll have more on this later (I’m at the zoo with the family and I want to keep Mrs Billfer happy) but I love this move for the Tigers (and the Mariners). I like Robles a lot but a good prospect isn’t a bad price to pay to upgrade a spot in the rotation.

If memory serves Washburn is a type B meaning the Tigers should net a draft pick as well.

UPDATE: This stuff is new since the initial “walking through the zoo updating the site” post.

Mauricio Robles pitches for the Lakeland Flying Tigers cr- Roger DeWitt

Mauricio Robles pitches for the Lakeland Flying Tigers cr- Roger DeWitt

Washburn sports a very sexy 2.64 ERA. It’s likely an unsustainable ERA due to a low strike out rate. But his FIP is still a very solid 3.75. This is a run below where Washburn has been since the 2002 season (when his numbers were very much like they are this year.

A couple things are working in Washburn’s favor. He has added a new pitch and he’s had tremendous outfield defense behind him. In Detroit he should be able to bring his new pitch, but the outfield defense won’t be as good. Granderson and Thomas are no reason to worry, but Ordonez/Thames/Raburn wouldn’t play in the Mariners outfield.

French’s FIP is nearly identical and is 3.87. French was a fringe prospect until he was pushed to AAA this year and saw his strikeout rate jump and his walk rate drop and he elevated his prospect status. A favorable debut at the MLB level is certainly encouraging.

So here we have 2 pitchers who are both pitching much better than anyone expected going into the season, and their numbers are similar now. The Tigers are banking that Washburn is a better bet to sustain his success throughout the season than French is. It’s not a bad bet.

Of course if French performs as well or better than Washburn (as some expect) we’ll look back at this trade with disgust because then the Tigers will have parted with a lefty 20 year old fanning better than a batter an inning at high A ball. Because Robles is the cost of “upgrading” to whatever level of performance that Washburn will bring over French.


  1. Jason

    July 31, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    You’re going to offer arbitration to Jarrod Washburn, where he could easily command $11-14 million, to get a draft pick? Good luck with that, and enjoy being on the hook for it when he comes back to earth. Tigers won’t offer arbitration for that risk.

    • Jeff Molby

      July 31, 2009 at 12:31 pm

      I would. Even if you assume this year is an aberration, he’s still a solid left-handed arm. I wouldn’t mind being “stuck” with him next year, even at that price. Besides, he’s got Boras. No way he accepts arbitration.

  2. Skip

    July 31, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    No offense to French or the other guy (Robles), but I think we got a steal here…

  3. Mark in Chicago

    July 31, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    make the arbitration/draft pick decision later. right now, I like this trade a lot. French is a fringe rotation guy, hardly irreplaceable. Robles looks to be a very nice prospect but still a ways off from contributing.

    Gotta like this trade.

  4. RPS

    July 31, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    Seems pretty decent for both sides. Tigers get a lefty starter for the pennant drive. Even if he regresses to his norms, he’s still a decent #3/good #4. JV/EJ/Washburn/Porcello/Galarraga is a pretty nice rotation. I hate to lose French, but with JV and Edwin and Rick, there are already three quality, young, and still under team control starters left. I can deal.

    M’s get a quickly improving young starter with 5.5 years of team control left and one of the Tigers’ twelve billionty minor league bullpen arms.

    Tigers win now, M’s win future. I’ll take it. Pretty good move. The only way this becomes terrible is if Washburn has ten good starts and DD decides to offer him $4/48 in the offseason. Hopefully that lesson’s been learned.

  5. Chauncey

    July 31, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    I’m no expert, but this looks like a steal, even if he is just a rental. For one, it should allow them to protect Porcello from getting over worked the rest of the season, and they really didn’t give up a ton to get him- I would take this type of a deal over mortgaging the farm for a Halladay or Holliday type player any day. Even if Washburn comes back to earth, he has a career ERA just over 4, and has been a reliable middle of the rotation guy for most of his career.

    • Matt

      July 31, 2009 at 12:20 pm

      How does this protect Porcello from getting overworked?

    • Chris

      July 31, 2009 at 12:25 pm

      Yep… Good point. This move not only preserves our top pitching prospect, it puts him within the original plan as a prospect to groom for the future. Hell, the Tigers can even let Porcello pitch in the minors for the rest of the season. There is no more pressure to make him a contributing pitcher right now.

      I like this more. It bolsters this year’s chances while protecting the future.

      • dwinning

        July 31, 2009 at 1:08 pm

        this moves porcello to the #5 spot instead of french, which makes it easier to skip his turns in the rotation – keeping his innings down for a while.

  6. Andre in Chi

    July 31, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    Dave over at USS Mariner loves this deal for the M’s…hmmm

    • Mark in Chicago

      July 31, 2009 at 12:30 pm

      Here’s the post over at USSMariner (since Andre apparently isn’t going to paste it):

      “Awesome. French is Washburn – a strike throwing flyball lefty who fits Safeco perfectly and should slide in as a nice back-end starter. He just doesn’t cost any money, and we have him for the next six years. That they threw in Robles, a 20-year-old lefty with a ton of strikeouts in A-ball, is just gravy.

      This is a fantastic deal. The M’s didn’t even get worse. It’s 50-50 on who pitches better the next two months, French or Washburn. And, of course, we get to keep French next year without paying anything for him.

      Sweet, sweet deal.”

      I hardly think French is Washburn, and I disagree with the notion that it’s 50-50 on who pitches better the next two months. It’s a fair assessment that French provides low-cost certainty, but the line about throwing Robles for gravy implies they would have traded Washburn for French straight up. Which is silly.

      • Mat

        July 31, 2009 at 1:00 pm

        I agree with the Mariner’s guy overall, though 50-50 is a stretch. I’d put it at more like 30-70. Washburn has been a middling #4 type starter for most of his career. OTOH, he does seem to be able to put together random seasons of excellence. If this is one of them (as evidence indicates so far), the Tigers get a good deal. From the Mariners perspective, they come out on top either way getting two solid young arms. Great deal for them, questionable one for the Tigers. But I think they had to do something, so OK…

  7. Chris in Dallas

    July 31, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    I like the deal. Now you’ve got 3 of the top 6 ERA’s in the AL in the rotation, and they can be a bit more flexible with Porcello as far as skipping his starts if necessary, and maybe even moving him to the bullpen should they make the postseason. French wasn’t as impressive as his results were, and Robles seems pretty far away from making an impact at the ML level. Good job (and a surprise – DD plays things close to the vest, doesn’t he?)

  8. Dylan

    July 31, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    I love it! This gives us a lefty and is definitely a boost to the rotation. Seems like the perfect time to trade French after his stock rose a bit with his good #s, he’s due for some regression toward the mean.

  9. Mark in Chicago

    July 31, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    MLBTrade Rumors reports that the Tigers and Orioles are still in contact about Luke Scott, although the asking price is high.

  10. Dave T.

    July 31, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    Robles is only about 5’10” and 160. DD trades anyone who is not over 6 ft. Wasn’t the knock on Jair Jurgens that he was too small to hold up.

    I don’t know if he is right or wrong, but I appreciate the fact DD has a philosophy and sticks to it.

    I like Washburn he pitched well against us a couple of weeks ago.

    Anyone want to take an over under on the number of starts between now and the rest of the season for the Willis, Robertson, Bonderman trio. I say over 1 and 1/2.

    • Kevin in Dallas

      July 31, 2009 at 11:01 pm


  11. Jeff Molby

    July 31, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    I love taking my son to the zoo, but on Deadline Day, billfer?? I hope Mrs. Billfer didn’t make you go shoe shopping on Opening Day… 😉

  12. RPS

    July 31, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    Now I just sit and wait to hear “Ryan Perry and Cale Iorg for Luke Scott”. Then I am happy.

    • Dylan

      July 31, 2009 at 12:41 pm

      I’ll take it haha

      • Mark in Chicago

        July 31, 2009 at 12:49 pm

        I have no problem trading Iorg, but DD really seems sold on him as a future star. I’d be surprised if he dealt him.

        • Mat

          July 31, 2009 at 1:02 pm

          Can’t trade Perry right now with Zum out for the season. Plus his potential is still pretty good.

  13. Ken in Vegas

    July 31, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    I don’t really want to lose any more valuable prospects for Luke Scott, UNLESS he replaces Magglio full time, which in turn saves us a lot of money. If he is acquired to take starts from Thames and Clete, then I don’t think we are acquiring all that much, especially if the asking price is as high as we think it is. I wish there were better free agents at SS or C this year.

    • Chris

      July 31, 2009 at 12:47 pm

      Magglio and his salary will prevent that. Tigers may stick with the status quo and hope that he finds his swing… Damn contracts! 🙁

      • Andrew

        July 31, 2009 at 12:53 pm

        Mags’ possible extension will dictate that he won’t play if there’s a legitimate replacemen (i.e., Luke Scott) to take his place.

  14. Chris

    July 31, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    Man, if Tigers got Luke Scott… WOW!

  15. Dylan

    July 31, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    I’d like to see some kind of deal with Larrish for Luke Scott… Is that possible? I’m not expert.

  16. Jonathon

    July 31, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    Baltimore will look for pitching and left side infield prospects so maybe. I would think they would ask for Iorg though for Luke Scott.

  17. Jeff Molby

    July 31, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    Before everyone gets too wrapped up in the idea of Luke Scott, remember that 80% of his extra base hits have come off of us.

    • Andrew

      July 31, 2009 at 1:03 pm

      So the Tigers should dump some of their bullpen on the Sox and Twins as part of a three-way deal involving Scott. Makes sense to me.

    • Chris

      July 31, 2009 at 1:11 pm

      Which is not a bad pitching staff that he had success against.

      Also, remember that he has a four game series against the Tigers next week, if he stays on with Baltimore. Having him off their roster alone is worth two wins.

      • Joel in Seattle

        July 31, 2009 at 1:25 pm

        Made me laugh, but there’s quite a bit of truth to it…

    • Andre in Chi

      July 31, 2009 at 1:24 pm

      Now that you mention it, literally 1/3 of his HR and RBI have come from 4 games (three games vs the Tigers, and one 7 RBI game vs Seattle). In his other 71 games, he’s amassed 12 HR and 35 RBI. He’s done nothing since the All-Star break.

      All the Tigers would need to do to duplicate that kind of power is start Thames more (11 HR in 49 games).

  18. Dylan

    July 31, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    Orlando Cabrera to the Twins

  19. dwinning

    July 31, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    Now, let’s not get weigh french’s last few starts too heavily. Last year in AA he pitched 170 innings and only struck out 88 guys and had a 4 era in a pitchers park/league. his fastball sits at 88, and he’s never had great stuff or been viewed as any kind of special prospect. he’s had a good few months in AAA and has had 5 OK starts; but he’s gotten into the 6th inning *once*, all against hitters who’ve never seen him before. There’s really no reason to believe he’ll ever be an average MLB starting pitcher, and even if washburn comes down to his career levels – 4.00 era – he’s still a solid upgrade over french.

    Of course it’s a good deal for seattle too, since if they let washburn walk after the season they get nothing, and french and the other guy are better than nothing, but this is a good, win-now deal because we didn’t give up anything that we’ll really miss.

    • Mat

      July 31, 2009 at 1:42 pm

      The concern for Washburn isn’t coming down to career totals, its reverting back to the form he’s exhibited over the previous 2 years, and in a pitchers park at that: 4.5 ERA, 1.4+ WHIP. OR worse. Now things don’t look quite as good for Washburn.

      Its not that French was so great its just that Washburn isn’t either. For most of his career he has been middling at best.

      Still, its a deal that is probably worth the risk for the reasons everyone is mentioning. Washburn obviously CAN pitch very well. Lets hope he does it for us.

      • Jerry the Tiger Fan

        July 31, 2009 at 3:12 pm

        Comerica is a pitcher’s park too, so I don’t see Washburn’s ERA suddenly skyrocketing like it might if the BoSox had gotten him (facing seven to eight right handed bats per game with the Green Monster looming). Pinning our hopes on Luke French holding upin the heat of a pennant race would’ve been wishful thinking. Even if this doesn’t work out I gotta give DD credit for at least making a move on paper that makes sense. We now have three starters who rank in the top 6 in the AL in ERA. Pitching wins championships. I do think we need a bat to go with Washburn, but even without one the team got better today (on paper at least). I’ve got my fingers crossed that DD can get Luke Scott/Josh Willingham/or some everyday corner outfielder off of a non-contender before 4 pm today.

  20. Brad

    July 31, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    That Mariners blogger is positively delusional.

  21. Skip

    July 31, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    Here’s another funny thing- Tigers were (are?) asking the M’s about King Felix!!

    Anyway, not completely sold on Luke Scott. Not worth the high price the O’s are asking (dunno what it is, but I assume it will be high, as he has 3 years left)

  22. Joel in Seattle

    July 31, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    Doesn’t Washburn’s Elias rating get re-calibrated based on this season? He’s one of the better pitchers in the AL so far this year. Might he not work his way into type A status?

  23. billfer

    July 31, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    Eddie from Tigers Thoughts has cracked the elias ranking and now mlbtradrumors posts them. Eddie updates the numbers throughout the year, so his performance thus far has been accounted for.

    • Joel in Seattle

      July 31, 2009 at 1:56 pm

      Oh. I saw a post from someone on BYB who indicated that he projects as a Type A right now, but they may have been shooting from the hip on that projection.

  24. Mike Rogers

    July 31, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    I do not like this. Washburn’s pitched over his head, he’s a back-end start with a hefty price tag who would like accept arbitration. Given he made $10 mil and is having a big year, he’s likely looking at $15 mil in arbitration. Giving up the high-upside/low-floor arm in Robles is not something I like.

    • Mat

      July 31, 2009 at 1:43 pm

      An arbitration offer is too risky. There is a good chance that at his age he would probably take it coming off a career year in a pitcher’s park.

      • Mike Rogers

        July 31, 2009 at 1:51 pm

        I think he’d be dumb to turn it down. I think the FA market will rebound but that’s no guarantee. So, no need for him to risk not getting a pay raise for his “improved” season.

        The thing that frustrates me about the Dave Dombrowski administration is they aren’t the “smart/new-aged” front office that I love and envy like the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays. I know this is probably naive of me, but I feel like a lot of the discussion is “look at his ERA”. Whether that’s true behind the scenes or not, I don’t know.

        I feel like we traded back-of-the-rotation lefty for a more expensive, decade older back-of-the-rotation lefty.

        • dwinning

          July 31, 2009 at 2:03 pm

          are you taking the position that washburn is not an upgrade over french? that’s not true. even if washburn is only a 2-game improvement over french, 2 games could very well decide whether the tigers make the playoffs or not. french is nothing. washburn isn’t halladay, but what’s wrong with a #3 starter putting up a 4:00 era? nothing at all.

          • Mike Rogers

            July 31, 2009 at 5:39 pm

            I’ll go on the limb and say it: I don’t think Jarrod Washburn is an upgrade. Add in the cost, the likelihood of him accepting arbitration, and the age component and I don’t like the deal.

    • Keith (Mr. X)

      July 31, 2009 at 6:22 pm

      You crack me up. This was a very one sided trade that does nothing but benefit the Tigers. Washburn has been a stud this year and has the playoff experience that we very much needed from a pitcher. I still can’t believe Seattle would trade him and for so little. Then just think about the asking price there was for Roy Halladay. The Tigers made out like bandits.

      • Skip

        July 31, 2009 at 7:03 pm

        I too think it odd that the M’s got so little.
        It was reported that they asked the yanks for Chamberlain and Hughes!
        I guess they either lowered their expectations or it was another one of Jon Heyman’s BS reports…

  25. Dylan

    July 31, 2009 at 1:57 pm

  26. Keith (Mr. X)

    July 31, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    Excellent trade for the Tigers. I wanted Doug Davis, but the Tigers got somebody even better with Washburn. I thought Washburn would of cost a little more, but I was wrong. Can’t believe Seattle let him go for so little.

  27. Ken in Vegas

    July 31, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    Yeah, looks good to me. It gives us a better shot at winning now, and honestly our window may be closing. Lets try and strike while the iron is hot. If we get a healthy Bonderman back, then we could have the type of rotation that could hurt people in the playoffs.

  28. walter55

    July 31, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    I like the way French has pitched this year but his other minor league years have either been poor or just average so we will see if he is putting it together or just having a decent year. Either way our SP are a lot more solid 1-3 and then Galarraga and Porcello. Also I do think we will offer arb and we will turn it down so we will get a dp or another year of Washburn for around 10 mill which is not completely horrible. Have any Boras clients ever accepted arbitration though? Off the top of my head I could not think of any even when they should have like Varitek.

  29. amason

    July 31, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    I really don’t see how this deal makes the team much better. Well I do let fangraphs tell me what to think and they don’t like it for Detroit and what Dave Cameron said pretty much matches with my immediate reaction. Why give away two more prospects? blah.

    • Keith (Mr. X)

      July 31, 2009 at 3:57 pm

      I’ll help you see. We just got someone who has been just as good or better than Verlander and Jackson this season. Washburn has a 2.64 ERA and 1.04 WHIP right now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He just started throwing a sinker this year and that’s why he’s been so dominating.
      Tigers are a slam dunk to make it to the playoffs now. Washburn is the lefty we needed to help us beat Mauer and Morneau.

      As for hitting, if Guillen and Thames keep killing the ball like they’ve been lately, then we don’t need another bat.

      • Keith (Mr. X)

        July 31, 2009 at 4:10 pm

        Correction. It’s a split-fingered fastball that Washburn is throwing now. Maybe he can teach that pitch to some of our other guys!!

    • RPS

      July 31, 2009 at 4:22 pm

      Dave Cameron is an overreactionary of the highest order. He knows his stuff, but tends to want to turn everything into either the best or worst thing EVER!
      Look back at what he said about the Joyce/Jackson trade. At the time, it was about as even a match as you could ask for, maybe a little better for TB, and he wrote a long piece of scathe basically calling it the worst idea since the Titanic.

      • amason

        July 31, 2009 at 4:49 pm

        b/c the Joyce trade was that bad at the time. Who really expected Jackson to pitch this well. That said with that at least you got someone in their mid-20’s and perhaps able to improve. Washburns FIP is 3.75 so quite good but not as dominant as Verlander and more or less the same as French’s(small sample) but French’s BABIP is .327 and Washburn at .249. Whatever I don’t see a huge improvement and if anything changes for Washburn I would expect a regression.

        • Keith (Mr. X)

          July 31, 2009 at 5:49 pm

          This is a major upgrade to our rotation. Comparing French to Washburn is quite ridiculous.

          Better off comparing Luke French to someone like Wil Ledezma next time.

          This year, Washburn has been just as good as Cliff Lee or Johan Santana.

          • Mike Rogers

            July 31, 2009 at 6:05 pm

            Pegging Luke French as Wil Ledezma when French is so young is ridiculous. I think the benefit was marginal at best.

          • amason

            July 31, 2009 at 6:09 pm

            hope i am wrong(and I don’t claim to be doing much of an analysis here either). And to clarify I don’t think we necessarily lost out but don’t see a huge improvement.

        • RPS

          July 31, 2009 at 7:04 pm

          But it wasn’t that bad. No one expected Edwin to be this far above league average. At the same time, how high a ceiling does Matt Joyce really have? I don’t ever see him as more than a 2 or 3 WAR guy. It’s a mistake to have that firm line between who is a prospect and who is a finished product. A couple years of MLB experience never mean that a 25 or 26 year old can’t break through. In this situation, I don’t think a slightly below average starter with the stuff to be a lot more was a bad gamble for the price.

          On Washburn, the major advantages are that :

          A) We have a good idea what his ceiling and floor look like. We have no idea what French’s current floor looks like. With Galarraga and Porcello in the rotation, a little more certainty is nice.

          B) Right now, Washburn is going to go much deeper into games and keep innings out of the bullpen, which, while adequate, is not a strength.

          Certainly, he’s due for regression. His HR/FB is like 6% or so, right? A WHIP around 1.30 or 1.35 is still nothing to sneeze at.

          I’m not crazy about this trade. I don’t hate it either. Stats are good. Take Cameron’s writings with a grain of salt. Washburn was clearly a fan-unfavorite in Seattle. No matter how rational you try to be, that’s gonna creep in.

  30. Mark in Chicago

    July 31, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    Don’t worry about the lack of adding a bat, there’s always the waiver deals that can get done (claim or trade).

  31. Mark in Chicago

    July 31, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Peavy to white sox (again) according to MLBTR

    EDIT … which doesn’t make sense because Peavy would have to approve it and I think he’s on the DL.

    • Andre in Chi

      July 31, 2009 at 4:42 pm

      Now I officially have to drop him from my fantasy team. Best NL pitching park –> worst AL pitching park, sweet deal.

      • Mark in Chicago

        July 31, 2009 at 5:00 pm

        Extreme groundball pitcher mitigates some of that but you are right (I hope).

        • Andre in Chi

          July 31, 2009 at 5:29 pm

          Yeah, hopefully Cameron’s article in May holds true: (http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs.....-white-sox)

          “For his career, Peavy has a 3.73 K/BB rate at Petco, and he’s allowed one home run every 56.3 plate appearances while pitching at home. On the road, his K/BB is 2.54, and he allows one home run every 30.8 plate appearances. The vast expanse of the outfield in San Diego not only turns long fly balls into outs, but it allows Peavy to be more aggressive with his pitch selection and challenge hitters with pitches he can’t get away with in stadiums that aren’t as forgiving. Away from Petco, hitters have put up a .245/.316/.419 line against him, which certainly isn’t bad, but also isn’t ace-like.”

  32. greg

    July 31, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    Its a done deal

  33. Skip

    July 31, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    Weird Jake Peavy deal…

  34. greg

    July 31, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    They traded 4 pitchers. Richard

  35. Keith (Mr. X)

    July 31, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    Great move for the White Sox. They now have a legit chance at competing IF Peavy can get his arm back into shape after a near 2 month layoff. It’s a great move for next year and the years to come too.

    Peavy’s current contract-
    $11 million in 2009.
    $15 million in 2010
    $16 million in 2011
    $17 million in 2012
    club option for $22 million in 2013, or a $4 million buyout.

  36. Keith (Mr. X)

    July 31, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    I’m just thrilled right now. Can’t wait for the Tigers pregame.

  37. Joey in Portland Or

    July 31, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    Jake Peavy sir, I no longer care for you. And I’m sure I will come to hate you soon enough!

  38. Don

    July 31, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    For some reason this parallel came to mind:
    3 years removed from World Series, Tigers trade for experienced pitcher. They make the postseason, but languish in the division for years afterward. Past is not prologue, is it? And if so, does Inge == Trammell?

    Just a bit of fluff before the game…

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  40. Kevin in Dallas

    July 31, 2009 at 11:10 pm

    This is why you have a farm system. We just traded a guy that started the year outside our top 30 prospects, a guy who has 5 career starts, for a guy with 292 career starts, in the midst of arguably his best year with a 1.29 career whip. And people are complaining? I LOVE the deal.