BY RICKY LINDSAY, Staff Writer
Is it July 31st already? The MLB trade deadline is only a week away, but you wouldn’t know that with the trade fireworks launched today.
The Detroit Tigers and Miami Marlins pulled off the first big deal of the trade season, swapping Jacob Turner and a pair of minor leaguers for Anibal Sanchez and Omar Infante. The teams also swapped compensatory draft picks for the 2013 draft.
Turner, whose trade stock increased with his strong start and first major league win Sunday against Chicago, is the centerpiece of the deal for the Marlins. Turner has been ranked as the Tigers’ top prospect going into this season, as well as a top prospect throughout the league.
The minor leaguers heading to Miami are catcher Rob Brantly and pitcher Brian Flynn. Brantly, the Tigers’ third round pick in 2010, spent time between Erie and Toledo this season. Flynn, the Tigers’ seventh round pick in 2011, started for Lakeland before being called up to Erie recently.
The Tigers desperately needed to pull the trigger to add depth for another deep postseason run.
They did just that on the heels of a 16-5 record in their past 21 games.
Sanchez, a veteran starter for Miami, will bolster the Tigers’ young starting rotation. Sanchez is currently 5-7 on the year with a 3.94 earned run average and 110 strikeouts.
Infante makes his return to Detroit after spending his first seven seasons with the club. In those seven seasons, Infante was an average player fighting for a starting spot. Since then, Infante has become a good second baseman, earning an All Star selection in 2008 with the Atlanta Braves.
Infante is hitting .287 with eight home runs this season. He is expected to become Detroit’s starting second baseman, a position they’ve been lacking in since the departure of Placido Polanco.
This deal has the “Win Now” mentality all over it. Sanchez is a free agent after this season and will most likely command a ten million dollar starting salary for a long term deal. Infante is under contract until 2014, with one more year left on his current deal worth four million dollars.
The Marlins are obviously in a rebuilding mode after failing to become an elite team with their large free agent signings last winter. Turner will provide a boost to their rotation down the road.
The only way the Marlins lose this trade is if Turner reports to Miami. It was apparent that he wasn’t ready for big league hitters, and sending him to Triple A to develop his skills with no pressure of winning now will help him become a dominant starter.
These two clubs have had a recent history of big trades. Detroit acquired their All Star third baseman Miguel Cabrera in a 2007 Winter Meetings blockbuster with the Florida Marlins. The deal helped the Tigers become big spenders and a formidable threat in the American League.
This might not be a blockbuster deal like the one in 2007 with the Marlins, but this was the best Detroit could do with what they were willing to offer. Many teams inquired in coveted prospect Nick Castellanos, but the Tigers were unwilling to include him in a trade.
However, if they were willing to part with Castellanos, the return haul could have been huge, with All Star pitcher James Shields being an option. Shields would’ve been a better option over Sanchez and most available pitchers because of his long contract that could last until 2015.
The Tigers benefit from this deal immediately, especially if they make the postseason. Detroit was two wins away from their second World Series appearance in six years, and will be ready to contend with the deep rosters of the Los Angeles Angels, Texas Rangers, and New York Yankees.