Tigers acquire Washburn for 2 pitchers

Updated: August 1, 2009, 1:34 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

SEATTLE -- After days of debate, the Seattle Mariners traded left-handed pitcher Jarrod Washburn to the Detroit Tigers for two young pitchers, giving the Tigers another veteran for their rotation as they try to hold on to the AL Central lead.

With Washburn's trade value at its highest, the Mariners sent the 34-year-old to the Tigers for left-hander Luke French and minor league prospect Mauricio Robles. The deal was announced just hours before the non-waiver 4 p.m. ET trade deadline arrived.

"Washburn is having a tremendous season and he has been a quality major league starter throughout his career," Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said.

Washburn is 106-106 since making his big league debut for the Angels in 1998.

Washburn has turned around his career this season with a new, split-fingered fastball. He was a combined 23-43 in his first three years with the Mariners entering 2009, a disappointing run he recently called "a tired act." But he is 8-6 with a 2.64 ERA in 20 starts this season.

Jarrod Washburn

Washburn

In his last five starts spanning 36 2/3 innings, Washburn has allowed just three earned runs and 20 hits.

The New York Yankees also were interested in adding Washburn and when they called, Seattle asked for either of the team's top two position-player prospects -- catcher Jesus Montero or outfielder Austin Jackson. The Yankees then made a counterproposal of lesser prospects and never heard back, as Seattle plowed ahead and dealt Washburn to Detroit.

Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik told ESPN's Peter Gammons there also was interest from a slew of teams for Mariners ace Felix Hernandez.

"I had calls," Zduriencik told Gammons, "and I listen to everyone. But it would have taken too much to even discuss a realistic trade."

Washburn is in the final months of a $37.5 million, four-year contract. He was Seattle's most attractive commodity: a veteran left-handed starter who has won a World Series, in 2002 with Anaheim.

The debate on moving Washburn went right to the deadline because the surprising Mariners stayed in the AL West and wild-card races longer than expected. But after losing 7-1 on Thursday night in Texas, the Mariners stood eight games back of the Angels in the division and 6 behind Boston in the wild-card race, and Zduriencik this week acknowledged "we're a club that's a little bit on the outside, looking in."

The 23-year-old French has pitched for both Detroit and Triple-A Toledo this season. He is 1-2 with a 3.38 ERA in five starts for the Tigers. He limited Seattle to a pair of earned runs in 5 1/3 innings on July 23 in Detroit.

At Toledo, French was 4-4 with a 2.98 ERA in 13 starts.

Robles, 20, started the season at West Michigan in the Midwest League. He was later promoted to Class A Lakeland in the Florida State League in June and in his seven starts at Lakeland, Robles is 4-2 with a 3.60 ERA.

"We had an opportunity to acquire two starting left-handed pitchers under the age of 23, including one with Major League experience," Zduriencik said in a statement. "As we continue to build the Mariners organization, it is crucial that we acquire depth and quality.

"This deal is another step in that process."

French and Robles were not among the top 10 prospects in the Tigers' organization entering this season, according to Baseball America.

Information from ESPN.com's Jayson Stark and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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