BOSTON -- Detroit Tigers president and general manager David Dombrowski, whose late entry into trade talks between the Red Sox and White Sox was the catalyst to the three-way deal that made Jake Peavy’s acquisition by the Red Sox possible, raved about rookie shortstop Jose Iglesias, the prize he extracted from Boston in the deal.
“Jose’s been tremendous for us. He really changes our ball club, as you know, over here,” Dombrowski told ESPNBoston.com in an interview aired on WEEI. “He’s an outstanding defensive shortstop. He really changes the middle of the diamond. We have a lot of good pitchers, and some of them live with the ground ball, and so his range helps us appreciably -- he’s so quick out there.
“He’s also hit well enough. He’s continued to hit over .300 for us, and has gone through a little bit of a downtime period, but he’s come back and done well. He does a lot of little things for us as far as bunting, he can move the ball around, he can steal a base -- he did steal a base the other day for us. He’s still working on those skills, but he can really run the bases well. So, for us, we really like what he brings for us. He’s going to be our shortstop for years to come.”
Dombrowski, in assessing the trade a month after it was made, said all three teams profited. The Red Sox, because of Xander Bogaerts, were dealing from a position of strength when they dealt Iglesias. The Tigers, who gave up slugging outfielder Avisail Garcia, who homered against the Red Sox on Friday night, just promoted their top prospect, outfielder Nick Castellanos, who hit .276 with 17 home runs and 37 doubles for Triple-A Toledo, so, they, too, felt they were dealing from a strong hand. They also needed a shortstop because All-Star Jhonny Peralta was about to be suspended 50 games for his involvement in the Biogenesis investigation.
And the White Sox, out of contention, were willing to part with the veteran Peavy, whom the Red Sox sought to bolster their starting rotation for their drive to a postseason spot.
Iglesias had 5 hits in 10 at-bats as the Tigers took two of three from the Indians, Detroit’s closest pursuers in the AL Central. He also made a remarkable defensive play that may have set the tone for the series. The Indians had runners on the corners in the second inning of a scoreless game Friday night when Asdrubal Cabrera hit a bullet just to the right of Iglesias. The shortstop was brought to his knees short-hopping the ball on the backhand side, but while still on his knees started a double play.
Overall, Iglesias is batting .292 with four extra-base hits, including a home run, for Detroit, a significant upturn from his last 19 games with the Red Sox, when he batted .167 (11 for 66), with all 11 hits singles.
“Well, clearly he’s improved their infield defense with his range,’’ Sox manager John Farrell said when asked to assess Iglesias’s impact on the Tigers. “I don’t know that any of us, even in this organization, have ever seen a better defender at the position. And I think that’s a pretty strong statement for a guy who’s in the early stages of what should be a long career. He’s going to make all the routine plays, he’s going to make the well above-average play.
“And for a time, particularly this year, he was a good offensive player. We didn’t necessarily want to trade him but it seemed to be a good fit for all three teams involved. I think just a very good baseball trade when you consider all parties involved.”
Farrell challenged the suggestion that Iglesias was flashier than he needed to be.
“No, he’s an outstanding player,’’ the manager said. “I think one of the beauties of this game is that there is a bit of an individuality inside it, and that’s his personality coming out with some types of plays made. But I wouldn’t say that there’s any other reason that would be shown, he’s an elite defender.”