Some trade deadlines come and go with little fanfare. Others, like yesterday’s featuring blockbuster deals by the A’s and Tigers, take on the feel of a titanic struggle between warring superpowers volleying their entire arsenals in an epic struggle for league supremacy and immortality. It was truly an awesome sight to behold.
The first bomb was dropped at 8:52 AM CST.
I was greeted at work with the stunning news that the Oakland had traded for Jon Lester. As astonishing as it was to hear Billy Beane had made a deal for yet another frontline starter after their opening salvo for Jeff Samardzija a month prior, the real jaw-dropper was that the compensation was none other than Yoenis Cespedes.
It took a minute to digest how exorbitant the price Wild Bill paid in an attempt to finally best his Motor City nemesis, Dave Dombrowski. Trading away a cleanup hitter is usually reserved for teams out of contention, desperately looking to build for the future. Add to that the 97 games over .500 the A’s had been with Cespedes in the lineup versus the 16 games below without him, it makes you wonder how Oakland could believe Jonny Gomes can fill that void. Good luck with that, Bill.
After that mushroom cloud had begun to settle, It became clear that the Tigers would take some kind of retaliatory action and I knew I would spend the rest of my day listening to sports talk radio and scouring my Twitter feed for the latest intelligence.
As often happens in the fog of war, confusion, wild speculation, bad information, and blatant false reports from fake Twitter accounts peppered the landscape, so figuring out what was real and what was total bullshit was not easy. By mid-morning, even MLB Network had fallen victim to a fake Ken Rosenthal Twitter account reporting a ridiculous David Price to Detroit trade was in the works. I accused my mischievous counterpart, PV of the subterfuge, but he denied all responsibility. Little did we know how prescient those fake accounts would prove to be.
At first, the idea of a Price/Tigers deal seemed so unlikely it wasn’t worth considering. But soon more reports began circulating and dots started connecting throughout the afternoon to the point where the deal not only seemed possible, but was imminent. Finally, after game reporters spied a smiling Dombrowski in his suite, hanging up his phone and shaking hands with all around just minutes before the deadline, it became clear that he had landed his haymaker and pulled off the unthinkable: David FUCKING Price was coming to Detroit!
Evaluating the fallout, most pundits (and myself) have concluded the Tigers won the arms race over Oakland. The A’s have built a similarly strong rotate, but at a much greeter cost. They gave up an irreplaceable bat in the middle of their order while the Tigers replaced their #5 starter, Drew Smyly with Cy Young Award winner and dealt an expendable Austin Jackson whose production at the top of the order can, and has been replaced by that of Ian Kinsler and Rajai Davis.
Dombrowski also got the better of Beane in the longview when considering Lester is a free agent next year, thus an awfully expensive rental. Meanwhile, Price is under contract thru 2015 which helps prop open that championship window for at least another year and can ALSO be used to undermine any leverage free-agent-to-be Max Scherzer would’ve had in their contract negotiations following the season. He proved once again he is playing chess while everyone else is playing checkers.