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Trade Deadline Recap: Tigers Acquire Fister, Pauley

August 3, 2011

With all of the teams in need of starting pitcher, perhaps the one searching for an extra arm the most quietly was the Detroit Tigers. Sure, they had been rumored to be involved in talks for a number of players but each time they seemed to quickly be ruled out as a viable option for that player. Yet, with the AL Central on the line and having the inability to pitch Justin Verlander on a daily basis, it was evident that the Tigers were going to need to acquire someone before the trade deadline.

On July 30th the team managed to fulfill that need, acquiring starting pitcher Doug Fister and relief pitcher David Pauley from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for four players – lefty pitcher Charlie Furbush, outfielder Casper Wells, third baseman Francisco Martinez, and a PTBNL (who we learned this morning would be relief pitcher Chance Ruffin).

Fister has largely struggled to impress through the first few seasons of his career despite some solid peripheral numbers. His overall stat line, however, has been hurt largely due to the lack of run support he’s received as a member of the Mariners rotation. This season he is just 3-12 with a 3.33 ERA in 146.0 innings of work. He doesn’t strike many batters out (just 5.5 per 9 innings) but compensates for that with excellent control (a career line of just 1.9 BB/9).

Pauley has been a bit more of a journeyman through his career before landing in Seattle last season. Much of his time in the minor leagues has been working out of the starting rotation until the Mariners moved him to the bullpen full time in 2010. This season he’s broken out with great success – 5-4 record, 2.15 ERA, and a 0.994 WHIP through 54.1 innings.

Both Fister and Pauley will be under team control for the next four season which is why Detroit had to part with so much in order to acquire the pair of pitchers.

Furbush, 25, has split his time this season between starting in Triple-A and working out of the bullpen in Detroit (although he did make 2 starts for the Tigers earlier this season). At Triple-A he’s posted a 5-3 record and 3.17 ERA while striking out 10.2 batters per 9 innings. In 32.1 innings with Detroit he was 1-3 with a 3.65 ERA but he also saw a dip in his K/9 (down to 7.2) and increase in BB/9 (up to 3.9).

Wells, 26, has primarily been playing right field throughout much of his minor league career. Some scouts seem to feel he could handle center field due to his above average speed but his overall tools seem to make him a better fit for right. In 113 at bats on the season he’s hit just .257/.323/.451 with 4 HR and 12 RBI.

Martinez, 20, was ranked among Detroit’s top prospects prior to the start of the season. He’s spent much of the season at Double-A where he’s hit .282/.319/.405 with 7 HR and 46 RBI in 348 at bats. Most scouts seem to think highly of Martinez, according to Baseball America, saying that while he doesn’t possess one superior tool he also doesn’t have a lot of weaknesses either.

Finally, there is Ruffin. A selection in the 2010 Draft, the college reliever has worked exclusively out of the bullpen throughout his brief minor league career. He made his way to Detroit’s bullpen just a few days prior to the trade, allowing two runs and striking out three in 3.2 innings of work. Projections seem to vary regarding whether he’ll be a late inning reliever down the road or just a solid middle relief option.

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