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Well folks, it looks like a deal finally went down tonight. Let's hope this one sticks.
If this report is true, the Tigers acquired Gerald Laird from the Texas Rangers for AA pitcher Guillermo Moscoso and another prospect. Laird is signed for another two seasons at the reasonable rate of $3 million per season.
On the surface, this looks like a good deal for the Tigers. They finally got the starting catcher they coveted and hey, it looks as though it did not cost them an arm and a leg. Also, Laird is/should be a pretty good player. Even though Laird has not caught more than 120 games in a season, he does have some pop, can hit for average, and is regarded as a strong defensive catcher. Exactly what the Tigers needed!
Plus, this year's catching market is pretty weak. I would much rather have Laird over Jason Varitek, Gregg Zaun, or Ivan Rodriguez. Laird is younger, cheaper, and has considerably more upside than any of these declining players.
Furthermore, Laird offers the Tigers something that they lost last season when they traded Pudge Rodriguez to the Yankees: stability. There is no doubt that Laird will be the starting catcher on the Tigers next season, which means they can do as they please with Brandon Inge now and align their defense accordingly. Having stability behind the plate is the key to pitchers establishing a comfort level with the catcher.
The real grading point of this deal is going to be how Tigers pitchers react to Laird and whether their numbers improve from an anemic 2008 season. The Tigers have more than enough offense to win ball games, but what they should be looking for is defense and intangibles to balance their roster. Laird appears to bring both to the table, which is why I like this deal for the Tigers.
Should be fun to watch Scott Boras try to muster up a market for Jason Varitek now that the Tigers are set behind the plate. Four years, $52 million dollars? Yeah right. Varitek will be lucky to get a two year deal from anyone other than the Red Sox now.
Detroit seemed to be Varitek's best match from the start, so with them out of the picture, I would assume that Boston is the most likely destination for the declining catcher in 2009. The move just makes too much sense. Oh yeah, any guess who Gerald Laird's agent is?
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