The Tigers traded Doug Fister, who pitches like a boss after getting in the head by line drives, for a package of prospects I wouldn't want for Tim Hudson at this very second.
The question everyone has after a trade like this is, "Why couldn't (my team) beat that offer?" It's a question that presumes all 30 GMs live in a big house, and every happy hour, they all take a break from playing grabass by the pool and loudly discuss trades together at the long, long dining-room table.
That's not how it happens. I mean, it does in my screenplay, but not in real life. Here's what I assume happens:
- Tigers announce they'll trade a starting pitcher
- Giants inquire about Rick Porcello, Doug Fister, et al
- Tigers rattle off names of prospects Giants aren't excited about losing
- Giants say, "Okay, let's see about spending money instead" and ignore the Tigers for the moment
Let's just say the Giants inquired about Fister one month ago. The Tigers asked for Kyle Crick. The Giants, realizing they can pay Tim Hudson about the same amount of clams and keep Crick, don't aggressively go after Fister.
Meanwhile, the Nationals, not willing to pay those clams for any starter, keep poking, keep prodding. Keep poking, keep prodding. They figure out that Dave Dombrowski has a real hankerin' for Robbie Ray. They wait it out. They succeed in a total eyes-wooling.
If the Giants did the same poking and prodding, they would have been scared they'd lose out on the Tim Hudsons of the open market. They're scared they'll end up with a Paul Maholm or Joe Saunders instead of Hudson, or that they'll have to trade Crick, Escobar, or Mejia after all, possibly for a lesser pitcher.
I'll bet you the Rays start every conversation about David Price with Brandon Belt, and they get more aggressive after that. I'll also bet you that doesn't sound so bad in February when Maholm is staring at you and waving.
Let this be a roll call, then. Because we have no idea what the Giants would have really given up if the Tigers came back to them and said, "Beat this deal from the Nationals, and Fister's yours." But we can guess.
Everyone who would have traded Crick for two years of Doug Fister, say so in the comments. Everyone who would have traded Edwin Escobar for two years of Doug Fister, say so in the comments.
Roll call! Not to prove a point, but to provide a thread we can all laugh at in five years. Like this. I'll start. No on Crick, yes on Escobar. Yes on almost anyone else, actually. It'll seem funny during Chris Stratton's third All-Star Game, which will come three years after Fister is out of the league. Or vice versa.
I wish the Giants could have beaten the Nationals' offer. But I'm not sure if they knew just how cheap Fister would have come, and I'm not sure if they thought they had the time to figure it out.