The Tigers are calling up 20-year-old super-prospect Jacob Turner to start Saturday against the Angels, but by the end of the day, they expect to announce a new member of their starting rotation.
According to sources, the Tigers have completed a trade that will net them Mariners starter Doug Fister and reliever David Pauley. The Tigers have been desperate to find a starting pitcher, and have become concerned about their bullpen depth because of questions about Al Alburquerque’s health.
As part of the deal for Fister and Pauley, the Mariners will get pitcher Charlie Furbush, who has been on the Tigers’ big-league roster, as well as outfielder Casper Wells (from Triple-A Toledo) and 20-year-old third baseman Francisco Martinez (from Double-A Erie). Martinez is one of the Tigers’ very best prospects, but they have depth at that position, with Nick Castellanos (at Class A West Michigan) also considered a top prospect.
The addition of Wells, who has hit .286 in 100 career big-league games, and Martinez (.282 with 46 RBI at Erie) should help the Mariners, who desperately needed to add some bats to their organization. Furbush, who has a 3.62 ERA in 17 big-league games this year, should also help them.
There was talk Saturday morning that the Mariners had at one point backed away from the proposed deal, but talks continued, and sources said the deal had been completed.
Turner, who has been pitching at Double-A Erie (and was scheduled to start for the SeaWolves Saturday night), is expected to return to the minor leagues after making his big-league debut.
The 27-year-old Fister became the Tigers’ top available choice, once they realized that they couldn’t get either Ubaldo Jimenez or James Shields. The Tigers were told earlier this week that the Mariners didn’t intend to trade Fister, but they kept trying.
Turner almost certainly would have had to be in any deal the Tigers made for Jimenez, but sources said the Rockies also demanded that a major-league pitcher be part of the deal (most likely Rick Porcello). At one point, the Rockies apparently also asked for outfielder Brennan Boesch.
Fister should be a big help to a Tiger team that is 19 games over .500 from the top three spots in the rotation (Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Porcello), but just 4-16 in games where they use their fifth starter.
Fister is just 3-12 in 21 starts this year for the Mariners, but that has more to do with Seattle’s woeful offense. His ERA is 3.33, and his 1.17 WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) is less than that of Tim Lincecum, C.J. Wilson, Felix Hernandez and Jon Lester, among others.
The Tigers scouted each of Fister’s last two starts, including when he allowed just three runs in seven innings in a 4-1 loss to the Yankees on Tuesday night. In Fister’s five starts this month, the Mariners have scored just three runs total while he was in the game.
Fister makes just $436,500, and came into this season with just over one year of major-league service time, so he won’t be eligible for free agency until after the 2015 season.
The 28-year-old Pauley has a 2.15 ERA in 39 appearances for the Mariners this year.