Rebuilding Mariners Trade Washburn To Tigers

With a 53-47 record and a two-game lead on the Twins in the AL Central, the Tigers added a veteran arm to their rotation in acquiring Mariners lefthander Jarrod Washburn. In return, Seattle received young lefthanders Luke French and Mauricio Robles

The 34-year-old Washburn can opt for free agency after the season. At 8-6, 2.64, he appeared to be having the best season of his career. But his strikeout and walk rates are in line with his career numbers, so the difference between his ERA this year and the 4.69 he posted last season can partially be attributed to Seattle’s improved defense, a big ballpark and some good luck. He’ll team with Justin Verlander, Edwin Jackson and Rick Porcello to add length to Detroit’s rotation.

The Young
French, 23, was the Tigers’ eighth-round pick in 2004 out of a Colorado high school. At 6-foot-4 and
220 pounds, he’s a big-bodied lefty with a three-pitch
repertoire, headed by a 86-88 mph fastball that touches 90. French also throws a 76-78 slider and a 74-76 changeup that sinks. All of his pitches
are fringe-average. The Tigers called up French in early July and
he made five starts, going 1-2, 3.38. He doesn’t have a particularly high
ceiling, projecting as a back-of-the-rotation starter.

Robles, 20, didn’t focus on pitching until he signed from Venezuela in 2006, so he’s an inexperienced arm. In seven starts since being called up to high Class A Lakeland in late June, he has gone 4-2, 3.60 with 40 strikeouts in 35 innings. Robles has difficulty repeating his delivery and his velocity tends to fluctuate. He sits at 91-94 mph, peaking at 96, but he also has been down around 89-91 from time to time. He also throws an 82-83 curveball, but noticeably slows his arm speed down and it tends to flatten out. He also features a changeup that grades out as an average pitch.

Robles doesn’t command any of the pitches well. If he continues to progress and learns to trust his stuff, he could profile as a back-of-the-rotation guy. Or perhaps a career in the bullpen awaits if he can learn to pound the zone with the electric fastball that he’s thrown at times and develop his curveball into an out-pitch. Either way, it’s going to take time for him to develop.

While Washburn has been overachieving this year for Seattle, he give Detroit exactly what it was looking for, a veteran lefty starter with playoff experience. In return, the Mariners get a couple of lefthanders with potential.