Tigers trade Yoenis Cespedes to Mets for 2 prospects
BALTIMORE -- Sandy Alderson said no.
When preliminary talks between the Detroit Tigers and New York Mets turned into intensive talks about Yoenis Cespedes the past two days, one name kept coming up: right-handed starting pitching prospect Michael Fulmer.
And time after time, Alderson, the Mets general manager, said no.
“Finally,” Tigers president and general manager Dave Dombrowski said, “they came back and made the deal in that regard because he’s that highly-regarded.”
At 3:45 p.m. on Friday afternoon, 15 minutes before the non-waiver trade deadline and after an estimated 20 phone conversations between the two general managers, the Tigers continued their prospect poaching, landing Fulmer and right-hander Luis Cessa for superstar leftfielder Yoenis Cespedes.
It was the third trade in the past two days of a team “rebooting” that sent impending free agents Cespedes, left-handed ace David Price and closer Joakim Soria out the door in favor of six prospects — five of them pitchers.
“All the deals, we got guys that are legitimate guys and real good prospects for us,” Dombrowski said. “Helped our pitching depth at our upper levels a great deal and took a guy like JaCoby Jones that we liked so, yes, I think we changed the outlook of our organization at the upper levels, which we needed to do because we’ve traded so many guys in the past.”
Cespedes was the final domino to fall and netted the team Fulmer, a 2011 first-round draft pick who has a 1.88 ERA in Double-A this season, and Luis Cessa, a youngster further down the line, Dombrowski admitted, but one they are happy to have on hand.
“We like both the pitchers a great deal,” he said.
About Fulmer, Dombrowski said: “We consider Fulmer a premium-type guy.”
About Cessa: “An above-average arm guy in their system.”
Fulmer will join the rotation at Double-A Erie. The 22-year old has a 3.21 ERA in four minor-league seasons. Cessa, who was recently promoted to Triple-A but stuck in a small ballpark in Las Vegas, has a 3.98 ERA this season and will join the rotation at Triple-A Toledo.
With the trade, Cespedes will head to the National League for the first time in his career after an outstanding first half with the Tigers, but he could return for next season.
According to a recent report from Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the dynamic Cuban import has told friends that he would like to sign a long-term deal with the Tigers.
“Yoenis did a tremendous job for us, but it was just a situation — being a free agent at the end of the year — based upon the things we were doing, we thought it was a prudent move for us at this time,” Dombrowski said.
He said the team did not initiate contract extension talks with Cespedes during his half-season in Detroit. The team acquired him in a trade with the Red Sox last off-season along with reliever Alex Wilson and a prospect for starting pitcher Rick Porcello.
Cespedes, 29, is hitting .293 this season with 18 home runs and 61 RBIs.
“I think part of it is we traded good players,” Dombrowski said of the team’s returns before the trade deadline, which includes highly-regarded left-hander Daniel Norris, acquired from the Blue Jays on Thursday. “We really thought it gave us an influx and can help us next year and puts us in a good spot as far as going into next year as far as with the big-league club.”
Next year, Dombrowski said, “I can assure you that our goal going into next year will be to try to win a world championship.”
This year, that wasn’t possible largely because of the team’s lack of depth at the back-end of the starting rotation.
So far, the rebooting looks like a big boost in that regard.