Frisco, TX – It was trade deadline day. The Frisco front office had held countless internal meetings over the past few weeks, listing players the team would target. There were prospects and veterans discussed. Flexibility was important to make a good deal.
They had decided weeks ago they would wait as long as possible before making any serious moves. Today was as long as possible.
With several teams willing to concede the season at this point, solid veterans were available.
“Our starting rotation needed some fresh arms,” manager Steve Bourgeous told reporters. “I would’ve been happy with one of the three guys we got!”
Frisco spent the day pounding out trades, squeezing in new money and sending out just enough, and even received an extension on the deadline by a few minutes to land Justin Verlander from Bowling Green.
When all the smoke had cleared, the RoughRiders had landed three big-name starting pitchers: Justin Verlander, Jordan Zimmerman and Gio Gonzalez.
In total, the RoughRiders sent out 7 prospects scattered throughout their minor league system, including former first round pick and top pitching prospect Ken Holman. Frisco also sent out Kyle Seager, Corey Kluber and Robbie Erlin from the big league squad. They acquired the previously mentioned 3 starting pitchers, as well as a minor league prospect they liked, Luis Ascunsion. 10 for 4 was the total haul.
“All three of the pitchers we got have had some bad luck this year, and they’re still doing well enough. All have solid FIP’s, and we think our defense will help their BABIP improve too,” Frisco’s Jack Smith told me, the team’s analytics head.
The team’s best ranked offense wasn’t in need of any upgrades, but the starting rotation was. Upgrading three rotation spots cost the team some good young talent, but Frisco believes it’s worth the risk. If the team can remain healthy, and fight off what will undoubtedly be a very tough fight from divisional foes Vallejo and Austin, their playoff rotation could be impressive. But getting there remains the team’s only focus.
Verlander is signed through the 2018 season, and Frisco envisions him eating innings even beyond that season.
“His stamina is a huge asset. He can keep our bullpen fresh, and we like his strikeout mentality. Strikeouts are important in our launching pad of a stadium,” Frisco GM Erik said. “If he’s still wanting to pitch and he’s healthy, I think he could pitch another 6 years. We’re happy to have him.”
Gio Gonzalez is a free agent to be, and the team remained non-committal on his future beyond this season. Zimmerman, like Verlander, is locked up through 2018.
“Our payroll is pretty set for the next few years, but we don’t really have any huge needs either,” Erik continued, knocking on wood. “We’re going to see how this year goes first though.”
If the pennant race is half as exciting as today’s deadline was, it should be an entertaining stretch run.