Released GM Dave Dombrowski from his contract; promoted assistant GM Al Avila. [8/4]
A surprising development due to its timing rather than its content. Dombrowski seemed likely to move on at season's end, given the two sides had yet to agree to a contract extension, or, apparently, even discuss his contractual situation leading up to the split. As such, this move benefits both parties: Dombrowski can get a head start on finding his next job, whether it's as a GM or team president, while Avila can move into his new office and get to work before the offseason surge is upon him.
Dombrowski's 13-plus-season reign in Detroit was an unquestioned success. Under his watch, the Tigers transitioned from one of the worst teams in baseball to a constant contender. Their recent accomplishments—appearances in three of the past four ALCS; nine .500 or better seasons in their last 10 tries—have obscured that Dombrowski took over a franchise that hadn't been to the postseason since 1987. The last 10 months have disappointed—beginning with a poor showing in last year's ALDS and extending to the recent deadline sell-off—but few GMs or teams have enjoyed as many triumphs over the past decade as Dombrowski and his Tigers. He should land a comfy gig in the coming weeks.
As for the team he's leaving behind, they should remain in good hands. Avila has been with the organization since 2002, having previously served in various roles with the Marlins and Pirates. He's well-perceived around the game and comes complete with extensive experience as a talent evaluator. (He's also, as you've surely heard, part of a multi-generational baseball family: His son is catcher Alex Avila and his father is Ralph Avila, a longtime Dodgers international scout.) Avila has a lot of work to do in the coming months, and not just in the sense that he has large paw prints to fill: Last week's trades hinted, and Dombrowski's exit cements, that the Tigers are a team in transition.
Claimed UTL-R Danny Valencia off waivers from the Blue Jays. [8/3]
As predictable as waiver claims get. Valencia is having a better season than most realize, thanks in large part to his unusually strong performance against right-handed pitchers. Whether that development proves to be a small-sample mirage or not, he should fit in well with the platoon-heavy A's. That's because "normal" Valencia is a capable short-side player whose defensive versatility—he's mostly played left field and his native third base in 2015, though he's also stood in at first and second base now and again—makes him more appealing (and interesting) than the typical lefty masher. Add in Valencia's cost—trifling as he enters his second year of arbitration—and he ought to be part of the 2016 A's.
Claimed OF-S Daniel Nava off waivers from the Red Sox. [8/5]
A week after dumping David DeJesus' salary on the Angels, the Rays find a cheap proxy. Nava is a nominal switch-hitter, and at times not even that: He's always performed better when batting left-handed, to the point where he tried it full-time earlier this season. When Nava is at his best, he hits a lot of singles and grinds out at-bats using a patient, disciplined approach. His poor play in 2015 aside, there's enough history here to believe he could be a league-average hitter again. If Nava validates that belief in the coming weeks, expect him to stick with the Rays into 2016 as a platoon outfielder.
Acquired LHP Eric O'Flaherty and cash considerations from the Athletics in exchange for a player to be named later; designated LHP Alex Torres for assignment. [8/4]
Look beyond O'Flaherty's ugly surface statistics and you'll understand why he's worth the Mets' time. Specifically, it's O'Flaherty's dominance versus left-handed hitters (.186/.286/.209) that makes him a logical addition for a bullpen that continues to be without Jerry Blevins. Of course O'Flaherty's struggles versus right-handed hitters—they've collected eight extra-base hits in 50 at-bats—will test Terry Collins' ability to micromanage his outings. Should Collins prove fit, then O'Flaherty ought to be another solid, albeit unspectacular, upgrade for the surging Mets.
Look beyond Torres' pretty surface statistics and you'll understand why he's no longer worth the Mets' time. He can still miss bats with his fasball-changeup combination, but his poor control and the Mets' desire for a traditional LOOGY meant his days were numbered. Expect Torres to land on another team's roster in the coming days because he's young (27), cheap (pre-arb through next season), and available for an iTunes gift card.