While the baseball world waits to see if Ryan Dempster to the Braves actually happens, the Marlins and Tigers have pulled off an even bigger trade.
Jon Morosi of FOXSports.com reports that Miami is sending right-hander Anibal Sanchez and infielder Omar Infante to Detroit. According to his colleage Ken Rosenthal the Marlins will get pitching prospect Jacob Turner, plus minor leaguers Rob Brantly and Brian Flynn. And the two sides have also agreed to swap competitive balance draft picks, which marks the first time those have been included in a trade.
Sanchez is a significant upgrade for the Tigers’ rotation, but he’s also an impending free agent set to cash in big on the open market at age 28. He has a 3.75 ERA in 132 career starts, including a 3.94 ERA and excellent 110/33 K/BB ratio in 121 innings this season. And now he joins a rotation that already had Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Doug Fister, and Rick Porcello.
Infante was originally signed by the Tigers as an 18-year-old out of Venezuela in 1999. They traded him to the Cubs for Jacque Jones in 2007 and since then he’s also played for the Braves and Marlins. Infante has hit for more power than usual this season, but his .754 OPS is relatively close to his .714 career mark and he figures to play mostly second base for Detroit.
Turner was promoted from Triple-A last week because the Tigers needed rotation help, but after three starts they decided he was worth parting with to bring in a proven veteran like Sanchez. Turner was the No. 9 overall pick in the 2009 draft and ranked as one of MLB’s top 30 prospects in 2010, 2011, and this season according to Baseball America. He’s widely considered one of the top 10-15 pitching prospects in baseball.
At age 21 he may not be quite ready to thrive in the majors, but the Marlins did well to get a legitimate top pitching prospect in exchange for an impending free agent and a good but not great infielder. And obviously the Tigers, after spending all that money on Prince Fielder this offseason and finally taking over first place in the AL Central last week, are fully in win-now mode.
Last night the Detroit Lions played the New York Giants. During the game Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford called an audible. The call itself referenced Stafford’s childhood friend and high school baseball teammate, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw. From the Freep:
Matthew Stafford stepped to the line of scrimmage late in the third quarter and surveyed the Giants defense.
With five pass rushers across the front and three Giants cornerbacks showing a press-man look, Stafford looked at his two receivers to the left and invoked the name of his childhood friend, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw.
“Give me Kershaw here, Kershaw,” Stafford said, repeating his friend’s name two more times as he spun around at the line of scrimmage.
The audible did not result in a pick-4 to Aaron Altherr. It called for a run up the middle. And it worked nicely, gaining eight yards.
You may suggest the results of other starting pitcher-themed audibles in the comments. I’ll start: “Harvey! Harvey!” is where the QB fakes a handoff, drops back, looks deep and then his arm falls completely off. Damndest thing.
Matt Harvey‘s season was mostly a loss due to extended time on the disabled list. He’s been given a chance, however, to end the season strong and make a case for himself in the Mets’ future plans. Unfortunately, he has been unable to make that case. He was shelled again last night, and his late season opportunity has been a disaster.
Last night Harvey gave up seven runs on 12 hits and struck out only two batters in four innings against a Marlins team that, until facing him anyway, had been reeling. It was his fourth start since going on the shelf in mid-June and in those four starts he’s allowed 21 runs, all earned, on 32 hits in 14.2 innings, for an ERA of 13.19. In that time he’s struck out only eight batters while walking seven. His average fastball velocity, while ticking up slightly in each of his past four starts, is still below 95. Back when he was an ace he was consistently above that. His command has been terrible.
Injury is clearly the culprit. He had Tommy John surgery just as he was reaching his maximum level of dominance in 2013. While he came back strong in 2015, he was used pretty heavily for a guy with a brand new ligament. Last year he was felled by thoracic outlet syndrome and this year a stress injury to his shoulder. Any one of those ailments have ended pitchers’ careers and even among those who bounce back from them, many are diminished. To go through all three and remain dominant is practically unheard of.
Yet this is where Matt Harvey is. He’s 28. He’s still arbitration eligible, for a team that is, to put it politely, sensitive to large financial outlays. While his 4-5 start opportunity to end the year may very well have been seen as a chance to shop Harvey to another team, his trade value is at an all-time low. It would not be shocking if, on the basis of his recent ineffectiveness, the Mets considered non-tendering him this offseason, making him a free agent.
Someone would probably take a chance on him because famous names who once showed tremendous promise are often given multiple chances in the big leagues (See, Willis, Dontrelle). But at the moment, there is nothing in Harvey’s game to suggest that he is capable of taking advantage of such a chance. All one can hope is that an offseason of rest and conditioning will allow Harvey to reclaim at least a portion of his old form.