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A sometimes-irreverent look at Detroit's Boys of Summer, the Tigers, as they try to return to the top of the American League Central.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Overflow from Dombrowski trade conference call

Obviously not every quote uttered by a team official makes it into a story like Monday's. The conference call with Tigers GM and president Dave Dombrowski ran about 20 minutes.
Here's the majority of what he had to say about the five-player, two-pick trade that brought Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez to the franchise, in return for prospects Jacob Turner, Rob Brantly and Brian Flynn:

OPENING STATEMENT: It was a situation for us, as we try to improve our ballclub, and win our division, and hopefully get into the postseason and advance from there, that we felt we were in a spot that we wanted to address a couple of positions in particular.

And the addition of Omar Infante for us, gives us a solid second baseman, a quality guy that can go out there and play day-in, and day-out. He adds to your ballclub offensively, defensively. He can steal a base. A real solid player; to us, one of the better second basemen in Major League Baseball.

And then in Anibal Sanchez, quality stuff. He’s been a consistent starter throughout his career, really the last couple of years has pitched consistently and well. His last three outings, he’s pitched outstanding. He feels great, he’s got quality stuff, and he gives us a chance to have five established, proven, Major League starters in our rotation as we go forward over the next couple, two-and-a-half months, and have a chance to win.

We gave up a lot, and we know that. It hurt to do what we did. But we made this move, I’m sure as everybody looks at it, we’re trying to win this season. We’re in a position where you have to give up talent to acquire talent.

It was also kind of a unique situation as we went through this, and Sanchez being a free agent at the end of the year, not knowing if we would sign him or not sign him at this point, we wanted to get their draft choice. We kind of dickered back and forth on that, and also trying to place a value on that, and also being in a position where we’re trying to acquire somebody who’s going to be a free agent at the end of the year, where you don’t get compensation. That rule has changed. We kept going back and forth, and finally agreed to send our draft choice, between the second and third round to them.

I think that’s the first time a draft choice has ever been traded in a Major League trade.

Q: You've had chances to do so in past, why trade Turner now? 
Well, you never want to trade a Jacob Turner, but we’re in a position right now, where we feel that we had a couple of needs that we wanted to address, they’re very important for us to win, second base ... for us it was really a position we wanted to upgrade.

In Sanchez, you get a pitcher that’s a very good pitcher, but I think the reality is, right now, it gives us a chance to win, and in order to make the deal, we were going to have to give up what we gave up.

You never want to make the deal, but I will say that, in addition to Jacob, we do feel that we have a couple of young starters that are still there in Drew Smyly and Casey Crosby that are good, quality young starters at the Triple-A level/Major League level. So we do have a little bit of depth in that area.

Q: Someone coming off 40-man roster to make room? 
Yes, we’ve designated for assignment Kelvin De La Cruz off our Double-A club.

Q: How about the 25-man roster?We don’t have to make a move until they report, which will be tomorrow.

Q: Does this trade change/eliminate desire to acquire another pitcher? We ... we’re set.

At this point. We have five guys going forward in our Major League rotation, and this would set our starting rotation going forward.

Q: So this will be the rotation as of Aug. 1? 
Well, I anticipate. I can’t ever tell you (definitively) ... yeah, that’s what our plans are.

Q: Did you find the asking price too high for other pitchers?I think, like in a lot of situations, you’re exploring a lot of options. We’ve looked at a lot of starting pitchers that are out there, and also weighed what the cost of acquisition would be ... in the price of players, as well as the availability. Who’s available, who’s not available, who we’re waiting on.

So, for us, this is the deal that just made the most sense for us to make. We could have tried to acquire Infante, and then tried to get a starting pitcher, but we do like Sanchez a great deal, too. People think a lot of his abilities ... so we feel like we’re getting a quality starter.

I think it’s just a combination of why you try to make any trade. You just think, even though it hurts a little bit to make it — which, anytime you acquire players for now for players for the future, that happens — we still feel we have some good players in our system. That’s the cost of trying to win, and we’re trying to win this year.

Q: Obviously have other catchers in system beyond Brantly
Well, we do. We do. And we still have a young starting catcher in Alex Avila, a left-hand hitting catcher. You aren’t going to have both of them in the organization at some point. That was not going to happen. Because you’re not usually going to have two left-hand hitting catchers at the big-league level. We like Alex, and we feel he’s our catcher, and he’s still young.

We hadn’t made the final decision going forward, but when this trade took place, they insisted on the package.

Those two names were pretty much in stone, if we were going to make this trade, and get these players.

Q: How quickly trade come about, and did MLB-wide pace of trading picking up speed up this one?
That answer’s simple, because it’s ‘No.’ That didn’t have anything to do with our pace.

Really, I had a pulse of talking to all the clubs. ... Right at the All-Star break and afterwards, had talked to Florida a while ago, and expressed interest in our second base (spot), and that we may be looking for a starter. They weren’t sure what they were going to do. (Marlins GM) Larry Beinfest contacted me on Friday, just wanted to check and see where we were, and if we still hand interest. I said we did.

He said, ‘Well, we’re going to see how this weekend goes, and I’ll get back in contact with you, if we decide to make a move.’ He contacted me yesterday, and it was kind of a first for me, he contacted me by text, to kind of make a first proposal, and it was in the middle of the game. So that was really the first time we got serious about talking about this, and we talked yesterday quite a bit, and again today, until the middle of the afternoon.

Q: Given Infante’s youth, is he a long-term answer at 2B? Well, we like him a lot, and he’s signed already for last year, which is a positive point, and he’s also young enough that we can talk about the future. But we haven’t reached that point yet.

Again, we like him a great deal, so who knows? But it’s not an area that we’ve discussed at this time.

Q: How badly are other teams coming after Castellanos? 
Very badly. A great deal. I think we were in a position that we basically had found no desire to trade him — again, I don’t like to say we have an untradeable player, because you say that, and all of a sudden something happens — but it would’ve taken a great deal. And we never discussed him, from our end of it, in any deal whatsoever, but were asked about him often.

Q: Was second base the overriding concern? Or equal? 
I think for us, if we had the starting pitchers going forward that we had, with the youngsters in the fifth spot, Smyly and Turner, I think that we felt comfortable enough, if they stayed healthy, and pitched like they’re capable of pitching. ... It was also something that protects us, gives us some depth. And we all know that any time you take the field with a pitcher that’s established, can give you seven, eight innings, that not only helps your starting rotation but that helps your bullpen.

I think from a second base perspective, it was a position we’d really wanted to address, a position that looked like it had scuffled for us all season long. Really has not caught fire from anybody that’s played there, and we’ve mixed and matched.

So that was an area we definitely wanted to address. There are not a lot of second basemen that are available, an especially aren’t a lot of second basemen that are available that are good players. ... We really looked really hard to find one.

We definitely had been trying to address the second base position, but the starting pitcher was also in our mind, though.

Q: Smyly’s open-ended, indefinite return from injury contribute? 
Well, I think it’s just an uncertainty at this point. He’s going to start throwing, so he is OK to do that. But that still is a couple week process, when you start getting involved with that. It played a factor.

Q: What is Smyly’s role going forward? 
I can’t answer that question at this point. We’ll just wait and see when he’s healthy.

Q: Did the familiarity with Infante help make this deal? Well, I don’t think it really played into it, because that really wouldn’t make a difference. It’s nice to have a feel for him, because we know he’s a quality individual. A lot of people in the organization still know him, hold him in high regard. I can’t say as though that was a real big factor. I think it was his overall makeup, and you try to do a lot of research, make sure they have a quality makeup; we did that with these guys. That’s more important than where they came from.

Q: Will fans be excited for return of ‘Infantiago’*laughs*
I think they’ll be pleased as long as we win.

Q: Did Turner’s performance Sunday enhance trade in Marlins’ mind?I don’t think a great deal, because they’d already proposed it, as we were going along. I can’t really answer that question, totally, but they have liked him in the past, I know that. Perhaps they watched him start the ballgame, because it wasn’t in the first couple innings that I got the text — it was about the third, fourth inning, somewhere around there. So maybe they did watch a couple innings, and that swayed them one way or the other. But they’ve always shown an indication that they liked Jacob.

Q: Will Infante’s acquisition make Raburn’s spot on the team tenuous? I wouldn’t speculate on any of the players at this point.

Q: What was the value of trading draft pick?Really, for us, when they asked us for the three players that they asked us for, and they said that they’d give the two, the one thing that was, for me, a concern is that we’re dealing with a player that ... is a free agent at the end of the year. In the past, you would’ve received draft-pick compensation for a player like that. So, for me, I asked them for their draft choice, and then there was the matter of what would the value of that be, from their end of it, as well as ours. They admitted that struggled with it.

So it’s a situation where for me, they struggled with that, too. They, in turn, started asking for more players, and a fourth player if they gave us that (the pick). And we spent a long time going back and forth on that. And then they finally asked me to trade (our) pick, and that seemed like that was a fair request. So that was how we came to it.

It was an interesting exercise, with draft choices. For us, we pick up a No. 1 draft choice at the end of the first round. We cannot trade this choice anymore, now that we’ve got it.

You trade up to the first round from the second round, and that had value for us.

Q: Did the recent run of success help you deal from position of strength? I don’t know that it helped us in the trading aspect of it. We felt all along that we had a club that was a good club. Of course we weren’t playing up to our capabilities. I think one thing that it helped was that, as we moved forward, and other guys had started to respond — what you hope to do is identify a position or two where you can hopefully help in a deal. And when a lot of guys are struggling, or not playing up to their capabilities, sometimes that’s hard to identify. So by us playing better, and some guys starting to step up, it gave you an easier area to really focus on.


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