DETROIT — Add one more former American League Cy Young Award winner to the Detroit Tigers’ star-studded rotation.
Capping a frenetic trade-deadline day that saw several other prominent hurlers changing teams, the Tigers have acquired David Price from the Tampa Bay Rays in a blockbuster three-team swap that also includes the Seattle Mariners.
To obtain the 2012 AL Cy Young Award recipient, the Tigers sent pitcher Drew Smyly and shortstop prospect Willy Adames to the Rays. Tampa Bay also received infielder Nick Franklin from the Mariners, who got center fielder Austin Jackson from Detroit.
The stunning five-player deal ended months of speculation regarding the future of Price, a free agent following the 2015 season whom the small-market Rays were certain not to be able to retain. However, with Tampa Bay just 5 1/2 games behind for the AL’s second Wild Card spot and having recorded the best record in the majors since June 11, many in the industry believed the team would hold on to its ace through the season to make a playoff push.
One of the game’s premier pitchers over the last five seasons, Price amassed an 82-47 overall record with the Rays and tops the majors with 189 strikeouts in 2014. His best season came in 2012, when the 2007 No. 1 overall pick went 20-5 with a league-best 2.56 ERA and 205 strikeouts to edge out now-teammate Justin Verlander for the Cy Young Award.
An All-Star for the fourth time in 2014, Price owns an 11-8 record with a 3.11 ERA in 23 starts this season.
“David has been an important part of the Rays franchise and the winning tradition we have established during his Rays career. I can’t thank him enough for his contributions to the organization these past eight years, and we will clearly miss him,” Rays owner Stuart Sternberg said in a statement. “These are difficult decisions we are forced to confront. Our fans have come to understand that reality, just as our organization has learned to operate with the challenges posed by the economic model and the growing disparity in our sport.”
The AL Central-leading Tigers targeted Price to combat Oakland’s acquisition of standout lefty Jon Lester from Boston earlier on Thursday. The 28-year-old joins a deep and talented Detroit starting corps that also contains 2013 Cy Young honoree Max Scherzer, the 2011 winner in Verlander as well as right- handers Anibal Sanchez and Rick Porcello.
Detroit did part ways with a quality everyday player in Jackson, a .277 career hitter who will be counted on to boost a Seattle offense that presently ranks last in the AL in runs scored. The 27-year-old has twice led the AL in triples and averaged nine home runs, 47 RBI and 16 steals since breaking into the majors in 2010.
Smyly gives the Rays a young and controllable starter who has had a solid season, producing a 6-9 record with a 3.77 ERA over 20 appearances (17 starts). The lefty is coming off a career-high 11-strikeout performance against the Angels this past Saturday.
The 18-year-old Adames was rated as the No. 3 prospect in the Tigers’ system by MLB.com and was the youngest position player in the Class A Midwest League this season. He was hitting .269 with six homers, 50 RBI and 12 triples at the time of the trade.
Franklin hit 12 homers in 102 games as a rookie with Seattle last season but has struggled mightily at the major league level in 2014, going 6-for-47 at the plate in 17 games. The former first-round pick was considerably better in Triple-A, hitting .294 with nine homers, 47 RBI and a .392 on-base percentage for Tacoma of the Pacific Coast League.