Dombrowski keeps working his magic

BY foxsports • July 30, 2013

DETROIT -- There are few, if any, general managers as good as Dave Dombrowski at the trade deadline.

The Detroit Tigers, on the eve of the 2013 deadline, have already met their biggest need, acquiring Houston Astros right-handed reliever Jose Veras to join closer Joaquin Benoit and Drew Smyly in the late innings.

That move allows the Tigers to pick their spots for talented-but-inconsistent young relievers Bruce Rondon and Al Alburquerque.

It looks as if the Tigers won't acquire a Joe Nathan or Jonathan Papelbon to close -- what with Benoit doing so well in that role. One of those acquisitions would have been huge for the team down the stretch, but probably not so great for the future.

Getting such a proven performer would’ve required one or more of their top prospects: outfielders Avisail Garcia and Nick Castellanos and reliever Bruce Rondon. It very well could’ve required brilliant lefty Smyly, as well.

“Castellanos, Garcia and Rondon are the first guys you get asked about,” Dombrowski said Tuesday. “And then there’s Smyly, too.

"To give up one of those guys, it would be a major-major deal.”

But it didn’t take one of the top-three prospects to get Veras, who was doing a good job closing for Houston. He has a fastball, curve and changeup that Tigers pitching coach Jeff Jones termed “all plus pitches.”

It did take outfielder Danry Vasquez, a five-tool player rated Detroit’s No. 4 prospect by, and a player who must be named by Sept. 15.

Dombrowski, though he liked Vasquez, parted with him because he was dealing from a position area of great depth in the organization.

We’ll have to see how this one plays out, but Dombrowski has been so good in his deadline deals with the Tigers that I don’t believe there’s one trade he’s made that he wouldn’t make again. He's picked up players like Sean Casey, Jhonny Peralta, Doug Fister and Delmon Young while giving up little in return.

“Dave’s a pretty thorough guy, and he’s very good at what he does,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “He’s a terrific GM. He’s sharp. He’s a relentless worker.

"I have confidence he’ll do everything possible to do something. He’s going to leave no stone unturned. I’m sure he’s still up there working.”

Dombrowski had about 24 hours to the 4 p.m. Wednesday deadline when his pregame press conference concluded. His main goal was a right-hander he would have total confidence in using in the late innings, and that’s been achieved.

Also don’t forget about another nice move the Tigers made in signing Jeremy Bonderman to a minor-league deal after the Seattle Mariners let him go. They put him in the bullpen, and he’s allowed one base-runner with five strikeouts in seven scoreless innings for the Toledo Mud Hens.

“We’re not looking to keep him down there,” Dombrowski said of Bonderman. “He’s throwing the ball very well for us. We like what we’ve seen.”

So are he and the Tigers set for now?

“I don’t foresee any other moves,” Dombrowski said. “Will we make other moves? Perhaps. But we accomplished what we wanted to accomplish…We’re not looking for a bat.”

That all could change, however, if All-Star shortstop Jhonny Peralta is suspended as a result of Major League Baseball’s investigation into PEDs distributed by the Biogenesis Clinic.

If a 50-game suspension is levied, Peralta could serve it immediately and protect his 2014 free-agency value. Or he could appeal and likely play out the rest of the year as a player in limbo.

“I wouldn’t talk about any of that scenario at this time,” Dombrowski said. “That’s a Major League Baseball issue.”

If the Tigers were to lose Peralta, Dombrowski could go after shortstops from non-contending teams looking to dump some salary. Guys like Alexei Ramirez, 31, of the Chicago White Sox and Erick Aybar, 29, of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim might be available.

Ramirez’s power continues dropping off, but he’s hitting .281 with a good glove and is signed for $19.5 million over the next two seasons with a club option for 2016.

Aybar’s batting .280 with 15 doubles, three triples, four homers and 37 RBIs. He can take away hits and, like Ramirez, provide a missing speed element to the team. The switch hitter is signed at $8.5 million for each of the next two seasons.

Detroit could also opt to recall shortstop prospect Argenis Diaz, who’s batting .263 with 26 doubles for Toledo, or versatile Mud Hen Danny Worth (.217 with little power).

“Argenis Diaz is an outstanding defensive shortstop,” Dombrowski said. “Worth is playing second base; we know he can play shortstop.”

As phone calls and text messages fly in the final day of the trading sweepstakes, you never know if Dombrowski is done. You just know that whatever he does has a way of working out.