Doug Fister

Tigers may be underwhelmed by Doug Fister, David Pauley

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The Tigers tried this on deadline day two years ago when they sent two youngsters to Seattle for Jarrod Washburn.  At the time, Washburn had a 2.64 ERA and a 79/33 K/BB ratio in 133 innings for the Mariners.

As it turned out, Washburn was a major bust in Detroit, going 1-3 with a 7.33 ERA in eight starts.  Knee problems had something to do with his struggles, but exiting Safeco Field also played a big role.

Now the Tigers are hoping a pitcher with a 3.33 ERA and a 89/32 K/BB ratio in 146 innings for Seattle can make a difference for them.  They sent left-hander Charlie Furbush, outfielder Casper Wells, third baseman Francisco Martinez and a player to be named to the Mariners for right-handers Doug Fister and David Pauley on Saturday.

It wasn’t necessarily a huge price to pay.  And, for what it’s worth, neither of the prospects the Tigers gave up two years ago, left-handers Luke French and Mauricio Robles, have helped Seattle a bit.

Furbush, 25, will be looked at as the key piece for Seattle.  The 2007 fourth-round pick made his major league debut earlier this season and did an excellent job out of the pen before flopping in a pair of starts.  He throws in the low-90s and has a nice curve.  He’s probably a long-term fourth or fifth starter, but Seattle could make him look better than that.

Wells, 26, wasn’t getting a chance to be more than a bit player in Detroit, but he had a fine .286/.341/.490 line in 206 at-bats since arriving last year.  He probably won’t be good enough against right-handers to cut it as a full-timer, but he makes for an excellent fourth outfielder and the Mariners should give him quite a bit of time in left field right away.

Martinez is a wild card.  The 20-year-old just played for the World squad in the Futures Game a couple of weeks ago, but he’s a career .277/.329/.361 hitter with 13 homers in 1,108 minor league at-bats.  His stock is definitely up this year, as he’s more than held his own by hitting .282/.319/.405 as one of the youngest position players in Double-A.  However, his plate disclipline leaves much to be desired.

The Tigers are banking on Fister and Pauley upgrading a Tigers pitching staff that ranks 11th in the AL in ERA.  And they probably will.  The Tigers had gotten a terrible run of outings from their fifth starters since Phil Coke got hurt in late May.  Fister owes a lot to Safeco Field and Franklin Gutierrez, but he did have a 3.71 ERA in 10 road starts this season.  For his career, he had a 4.40 ERA in 25 starts away outside of Seattle.

I doubt Fister will post a sub-4.00 ERA as a Tiger, but if he can just go out there and give up three runs over six innings, then he’ll be doing his job.

Pauley isn’t likely to be much of an asset.  The journeyman right-hander had an awesome run at the beginning of the season, allowing three runs in 32 1/3 innings through the end of May.   However, he has a 4.09 ERA and a 14/11 K/BB ratio in 22 innings since.  He also had a 0.67 ERA at Safeco for the season, compared to a 3.62 ERA elsewhere.  He may work as an innings-eating middle reliever for the Tigers, but he shouldn’t be entrusted with late leads.

It is worth noting here that the trade wasn’t made with only 2011 in mind.  Fister isn’t even eligible for arbitration until after next year, and he won’t be a free agent until after the 2015 season.  Pauley, likewise, will make barely more than the minimum next season.

And that drove up the price for the Tigers.  Still, the team was able to keep Andy Oliver out of the deal and give up Furbush instead.  I think Oliver is the better of the two young lefties, and I’m surprised the Mariners didn’t insist on him.

So, it looks to me to be a decent trade for both sides.  The Tigers didn’t get a real difference maker, but they also probably didn’t part with one.  Detroit added some stability, and the Mariners won out on talent.  Furbush could approximate Fister’s results next year, Wells will be a fine role player and Martinez has some chance of becoming a long-term major league third baseman.

Report: Cardinals are scouting Cuban outfielder Luis Robert

ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 25: Baseballs sit in the St. Louis Cardinals dugout prior to a game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on April 25, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by David Welker/Getty Images)
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According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.

There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.

Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.

Cubs extend Pedro Strop through 2018

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 25:  Pedro Strop #46 of the Chicago Cubs reacts during the sixth inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game One of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on October 25, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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ESPN’s Jesse Rogers reported over the weekend that the Cubs and reliever Pedro Strop agreed to a contract extension. He’ll remain with the Cubs through 2018 and the new deal includes a club option for the 2019 season as well. Per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, Strop will earn $5.85 million in 2018 and the club option is worth $6.25 million with a $500,000 buyout. The two sides already avoided arbitration earlier this month, agreeing on a $5.5 million salary for the 2017 season.

Strop, 31, has been a very reliable reliever for the Cubs over the last three years. He has a combined 2.65 ERA with 212 strikeouts and 69 walks over 176 1/3 innings in that span of time.

The Cubs replaced Aroldis Chapman with Wade Davis, so Strop and Hector Rondon will be bridging the gap to Davis this coming season.

Strop joined the Cubs along with Jake Arrieta in the July 2013 trade that sent Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman to the Orioles. That trade panned out well for the Cubs.