By Ashley Dunkak
COMERICA PARK (CBS DETROIT) – The Detroit Tigers traded away starting pitcher Drew Smyly and center fielder Austin Jackson, both of whom had been with the organization since 2010, to land coveted 2012 Cy Young Award winner David Price.
Smyly, who started Thursday’s game, was blindsided by the news.
“I came out of the game, came back to my locker, and my parents and a couple of my friends were kind of blowing my phone up like, ‘I think you’re about to get traded!’ and I was like, ‘What? No, I don’t know what you’re talking about,’” Smyly said. “And then, sure enough, like 15 minutes later, it happened. Dombrowski called me in, told me. I get what they’re trying to do. Price is outstanding, so hopefully it’ll help them.”
The 25-year-old’s voice wavered as he talked about leaving the organization that drafted him years ago.
“I didn’t want to leave here,” Smyly said. “These guys are awesome. We have a great team, a winning team, so it’s hard to say goodbye, but it’s part of baseball. Happens to everybody.
“Tampa is excited to have me, so I’m excited to be there,” Smyly added. “A team that wants you is always nice, but it sucks. This is all I know, so it sucks leaving.”
Smyly was already out of the game when the trade happened, but Jackson was still out in center field. With the trade deadline at 4 p.m., the Tigers had to get Jackson off the field, so they sent out Rajai Davis to replace him, and the crowd, knowing what was happening, gave Jackson a standing ovation.
“Once I saw Rajai come to the top step, I pretty much kind of knew what was going on, and kind of a sad moment right there, knowing that that last run off the field – it was pretty tough,” Jackson said.
“It’s kind of hard to explain it,” Jackson continued. “It’s kind of weird because I knew what was happening, but at the same time, I was kind of in a daze a little bit. I really wanted to go hug all my teammates, really, but it was just kind of one of those situations where you just kind of – you don’t know what to do. Just stuck.”
The rest of the Tigers were also shocked and disappointed to see Smyly and Jackson go. The clubhouse was subdued after the game as the duo packed up the belongings in their lockers and players visited to wish them luck and say goodbye. The team knows the value Price will bring, but for the players, Thursday was about the loss of two of their guys, not the promising addition of another one.
“Today stinks,” Max Scherzer said. “Today we lose Smyly and Austin. I know we’re getting David Price, and he’s a great pitcher and everything, but in this moment, it stinks because you’ve got to remember, we’re family in here, and Austin and Smyly are part of this family, and we’re losing two of our guys. I get that the guy we’re getting is very talented as well, but right now it stinks.”