Basking in the warm glow of a convincing 5-1 Tigers victory over Stephen Strasburg and the Washington Nationals last evening, my phone started blowing up with a bewildering text from my good buddy PV.
My first instinct was to tell him to stop fucking with me. Why would the Tigers give anything to their division rival, let alone their #2 prospect in Avasail Garcia? Had Dave Dombrowski lost his effing mind? Last I heard they were standing pat after shoring up the bullpen with the acquisition of Jose Veras.
After a flurry of frantic texting, Twitter scouring and channel flipping between ESPN and MLB Network the details finally emerged from a murky haze of misinformation, confusion, half truths and generally bad reporting so prevalent with the media’s rush to be the first to report any news: Red Sox shortstop, Jose Iglesias is now a Tiger.
Extrapolating that current SS Jhonny Peralta must be destined for banishment over the whole Biogenesis fiasco, it soon became clear that Dombrowski was, in fact, quite sane and may have just orchestrated yet another brilliant trade deadline maneuver to add to his already impressive resumé.
Having lost track of the endless carousel of shortstops that have patrolled Fenway’s infield over the last few years, I wasn’t all that familiar with Iglesias. I had heard about his impressive offensive start this season, but I didn’t realize his defensive skills were so highly acclaimed. His play has even evoked lofty comparisons to the Wizard of Oz himself, Ozzie Smith and Omar Vizquel throughout the baseball world.
While his 2013 offensive numbers are sure to be an aberration, his defensive prowess, including ocean-sized range, is for real and will be an invaluable addition to the left side of the Tigers’ infield — widely considered to be their Achilles’ heel. While Peralta has proven to be a solid defender, his limited range has always been a liability. His main value is his bat, which evidently has been chemically enhanced all along.
Speaking of value, a once-in-a-generation talent like Iglesias usually comes with a high price tag. However, the 23-year old’s contract is a manageable $2,060,000 a year until his arbitration year in 2016. He’s under control until 2019 so not only does he solve an immediate need for the Tigers, but he’ll be playing half his games at Comerica Park for years to come.
Admittedly, Garcia is a steep price to pay and sending him to a division rival is especially painful. But outfield is an area of relative depth with the organization’s top prospect, Nick Castellanos slated for left field. Conversely, shortstop has been a thin position and was soon to be a huge issue even without all the Jhonny drama since he’s due to be a free agent in 2014.
Ultimately, Dombrowski has earned the benefit of the doubt when it comes to wheeling and dealing. Anibal Sanchez , Omar Infante, Doug Fister, Austin Jackson, Max Scherzer, and the best hitter on the planet, Miguel Cabrera are all the examples of his handiwork he needs.