Tigers deal Price to Jays; newcomer Norris starts Sun.
BALTIMORE -- It came together quickly, the trade that sent David Price north of the border, and it came to a conclusion this afternoon.
After hours of negotiations, starting when Detroit Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski landed in Baltimore from St. Petersburg, Fla., where he revealed the Tigers would be "rebooting" after Wednesday's win over the Rays, the Tigers parted ways with their left-handed ace for a trio of Blue Jays pitching prospects.
"We're very happy with the young players we received," Dombrowski said. "We like their abilities a great deal."
The trio is headlined by left-hander Daniel Norris, a "premium pitching prospect" in Dombrowski's words, one not fully developed, he admitted, but one that the team believes is close to being big-league ready.
Norris will start for the Tigers on Sunday against the Orioles in Price's vacant rotation spot.
The early-morning deal with the Blue Jays – the teams agreed on players around 2 a.m., Dombrowski said – was made possible by general manager Alex Anthopolous' desire to acquire a front-line starting pitcher like Price.
After communicating sparingly over the past week – Anthopolous checked in on the Tigers' trade deadline plans but Dombrowski had yet to get clearance from owner Mike Ilitch to offer his free agents-to-be on the trade market – they conversed in Baltimore on Wednesday night, when "Alex basically said we're open, we really want him, we're in a position to really give you anybody in our minor-league system that you feel you would want as the centerpiece of the deal."
Norris, 22, is a highly-regarded pitching prospect – Baseball America ranked him No. 18 overall in their midseason Top 50 rankings – and has a 3.86 ERA in five starts this season.
In three minor-league seasons, Norris has a 4.08 ERA. He made 16 starts for Triple-A Buffalo this year.
Dombrowski said Toronto's big-league ready prospects set them apart from seven or eight teams that inquired about Price, and that dealing the dominating lefty first was not necessarily the first step in the team's trade deadline moves.
"It makes a big difference if you're going to trade David Price or somebody of that ilk," he said. "Like I said, we're rebooting, not rebuilding, and I think the difference is we have a good core club we feel going forward, with some real good foundation players. And so, if you can get players who are close to the big leagues and ready to contribute, you can go into next year and sort of identify on the free agent and trade market what you want to pursue to still be real good."
The Price trade, which netted another pair of left-handers – Matt Boyd and Jairo Labourt -- was the first domino to fall for the Tigers. An hour before the series opener against the Orioles, closer Joakim Soria was dealt to the Pittsburgh Pirates for a minor-leaguer, and leftfielder Yoenis Cespedes likely will be next.
The late July selling spree isn't something the Tigers are used to – they have been buyers at the trade deadline for quite some time – and it wasn't something easy to break to Tigers owner Mike Ilitch, Dombrowski said.
"He's all about winning," he said. "He wants to win. He wants to do everything he can. He's given us that support. We want to win. We're in that spot. We've been doing that as an organization.
"But it's a situation where you never want to be in a spot where you're doing what we're doing," Dombrowski said. "I would much rather be acquiring than I would be trading. But it's just where we are at this point."
And with Friday's trade deadline less than 24 hours away, what the Tigers look at that point, appears to be much differently than they did when they arrived here on Wednesday night.