Throughout July we're going to present 30 deals in 30 days: the best trade deadline deal ever made by each team. We've covered the AL East and NL East so far and are now on the AL Central.
THE TEAM: Detroit Tigers
THE YEAR: 2011
THE SITUATION: The Tigers reached the World Series in 2006 and had spent heavily since, but they had no subsequent postseason appearances to show for it. With a number of bad contracts coming off the books after 2010, fans had high hopes for the 2011 club. However, on the morning of July 30, 2011, the Tigers were a middling 56-50, just 2.5 games ahead of the upstart Indians, who were being heavily linked with a trade for Colorado Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez. Detroit's rotation, meanwhile, needed lots of help. Despite Justin Verlander's historic MVP season, the Tigers' other starters were alarmingly inconsistent, and there was a hole in the rotation that badly needed to be filled after the team's failed bid to make Phil Coke a starter.
THE TRADE: The Tigers found a trade partner in the Seattle Mariners, who were in last place and looking to load up on prospects. Detroit acquired starting pitcher Doug Fister from Seattle, a 6-foot-7 righty under team control through 2015 who was written off by some as a product of Safeco Field. Fister had a 3.33 ERA but a 3-12 record thanks to horrendous Seattle run support. To get Fister, Detroit parted with third-base prospect Francisco Martinez, lefty starter/reliever Charlie Furbush, backup outfielder Casper Wells and relief prospect Chance Ruffin. The Tigers also picked up reliever David Pauley in the deal.
THE AFTERMATH: All Fister did for the remainder of 2011 was outpitch the MVP. He was an astonishing 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA in 10 starts. His WHIP in 11 appearances was 0.839. That run included three victories over the rival Cleveland Indians, including one in September that saw him strike out 13 and defeat the Tribe's prize deadline acquisition Jimenez. The Tigers cruised to the division title, and Fister was not finished: He won Game 5 of the ALDS at Yankee Stadium and shut down the Texas Rangers in the third game of the ALCS. Fister battled injuries early in 2012, but turned in a solid season for Detroit and was very effective in three postseason starts as the Tigers returned to the World Series. Fister remains a key part of a strong Tigers rotation in 2013.
Even better from Detroit's standpoint: The pieces the Tigers parted with never worked out. Furbush turned out to be a decent middle reliever, but Ruffin hasn't been in the majors since 2011, Wells is in his third different organization of 2013, and Martinez -- regarded at the time as the key piece in the deal for Seattle -- stalled at Double-A and actually returned to Detroit in 2013 for nothing more than a player to be named later.
-- Grey Papke, Walkoff Woodward