On July 31, 2014, the Detroit Tigers acquired left hander David Price in a three-team trade involving the Tampa Bay Rays and Seattle Mariners. The Rays received left hander Drew Smyly and infield prospect Willy Adames from Detroit, as well as infielder Nick Franklin from Seattle. Seattle acquired outfielder Austin Jackson from the Tigers.
Detroit was one of the top teams in all of Major League Baseball at the time, and this move fortified an already-scary rotation. Price joined former Cy Young winners Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer, as well as a future Cy Young winner in Rick Porcello. They seemed primed for a deep postseason run.
Now, four years later, the dust has long settled on this trade. How did these three teams fare? Where are the players now?
The Mariners were 55-52 and 11.0 games back in the AL West on July 30th. After the move, the Mariners were able to close the gap to a margin of just 5.5 games after going 12-3 in the first fifteen games after the trade. Austin Jackson returned to Detroit on August 15th as the teams began a three game series at Comerica Park. The Mariners took the first game and won the series.
Seattle started to slip after the first fifteen games, and entered September a full 10 games back. They began the month winning five of seven, winning two against the Oakland Athletics and three against the Texas Rangers. However, they went on to lose twelve of their next seventeen games and lost a lot of footing in the division race. Seattle, still fighting for a wild card birth, won their last four games, but it wasn’t enough. The Oakland Athletics won the second AL Wild Card spot and faced the Kansas City Royals in a losing effort.
Jackson, who already had a reputation as an exciting player, was just that. This wasn’t reflected on his stat sheet, however, as he hit just .229 in 54 games. Jackson bounced back in 2015, hitting .272, but was traded to the Chicago Cubs mid-season. He spent time with the Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, and San Francisco Giants. In fact, Jackson was recently traded to the Texas Rangers, but has been designated for assignment.
The Rays were 53-55 and 8 games out of the AL East lead at the time of this deal. The team didn’t really drop off after this move, and flirted with .500 for much of the season, until they finally lost for the 81st time on September 21st in a 10-5 defeat at the hands of the Chicago White Sox. The Rays then welcomed the Detroit Tigers to Tropicana Field on August 19th for a three game set in which they ultimately won.
On August 21st, David Price faced the Rays for the first time. The Rays won 1-0, despite a dominant performance from their former southpaw ace. Price went 8 innings, allowing one hit, striking out nine, and walking none. The lone hit was a triple administered to outfielder Brandon Guyer.
While not pitching to Price’s level, Drew Smyly did pitch incredibly well after the trade. In seven games, Smyly went 3-1 with a 1.70 ERA, while racking up 44 strikeouts and walking just 11. Smyly went down with an injury that season and has battled the disabled list ever since. He was eventually traded to the aforementioned Mariners on January 11th, 2017 in exchange for pitchers Ryan Yarbough, Carlos Vargas, and outfielder Mallex Smith. Smyly never pitched a game for Seattle and is currently with the Chicago Cubs.
Nick Franklin split time between Triple A and the Majors for 2014 and 2015. Franklin hit just .206 in 11 major league games in 2014, and an even worse .158 in 2015. It wasn’t all that bad, as Franklin hit .270 in 2016. He has since spent time with the Milwaukee Brewers and Los Angeles Angels.
Willy Adames is the only one acquired by Tampa in this deal that is still with the organization. Adames entered MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospects before the 2015 season at #71. He was ranked #22 before this past season started. He has seen time in the majors, hitting .216 in 26 games this year. Adames has recently been demoted by the Rays.
The Tigers were actually in need of relief help at the deadline and were close to also acquiring left hander Andrew Miller from the Boston Red Sox. Detroit was 58-46 at the time of this move with a 5 game lead in the AL Central. They were playing the White Sox at the time news of this started to circulate, and Austin Jackson was pulled out mid-game.
Price started his first game for Detroit on August 5th, giving up three runs on eight hits while striking out ten in a no-decision against the New York Yankees. On August 27th, Price gave up eight runs on twelve hits in two innings at Comerica Park against those same Yankees. Price actually pitched to nine batters in the third inning, but failed to record an out.
The team slumped a bit as a whole after this move. They eventually lost the division lead on August 30th and didn’t reclaim the lead again until September 9th. They lost it again before once again taking it on September 12th. Once Detroit had it, they didn’t give it up again, despite hard competition in the rising Kansas City Royals. The Tigers faced the Baltimore Orioles in the ALDS, but were swept in a mere three games. To make matters worse, those same Royals that lost the division ended up winning the American League Pennant.
Price stuck with the Tigers until July 30th, 2015. Detroit failed to remain competitive, and Price was dealt to the Toronto Blue Jays. Price dominated with the Jays, going 9-1 with a 2.30 ERA. He helped lead them to the 2015 ALCS, where they lost to the eventual World Series Champion Kansas City Royals. Price then signed a massive seven-year, $217M contract with the Boston Red Sox on December 4, 2017.
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