Reminiscing on the Astros Robbery of Detroit
The Baltimore Orioles claimed Daz Cameron off waivers from the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday, ending the one time top prospect's stint in a Tigers' uniform. The last time he changed teams, the transaction was far more noteworthy.
On August 31, 2017, the trajectory of the Houston Astros was forever changed. Serious contenders for the first time in over a decade, Houston pushed all their chips in, trading three top prospects for a future Hall-of-Famer. Houston sent their number three prospect in pitcher Franklin Pérez, outfielder Cameron (no. 9) and catcher Jake Rogers (no. 11) to the Detroit Tigers in exchange of Justin Verlander. Pérez, the cornerstone of the piece, was ranked as high as 46th across baseball when he was traded.
Cameron was not one without hype, as evidenced by what Tigers General Manager Al Avila said at the time of the deal:
""Daz Cameron is someone that we view as one of the highest-ceiling players in the Minors. Cameron is a guy that slipped in the Draft because of signability concerns, but has always shown flashes of his dad's play.""- Al Avila
The city of Houston needs no reminder of what has come their way since acquiring Verlander. Two World Series championships, a second Cy Young award (with a third soon to be announced), a third career no-hitter, and just within the last week, the elusive first World Series win of Verlander's career. The icing on the cake of his Hall of Fame resume has come in Houston. So much so that he could end up going into the Hall of Fame in an Astros' cap.
But what about Detroit? Surely they've had some payoff come from this deal?
Pérez just spent the year with the Tigers' rookie affiliate, recording an 0-4 record in 10 starts, posting a 9.59 ERA. He's never advanced past AA ball. Rogers has built the best resume of the three, and an entirely incomplete one at that, playing 73 games at the big league level, though he missed the entirety of the 2022 season after undergoing Tommy John.
The recently waived Cameron also spent 73 games in The Show across a span of three seasons, recording a .201 batting average with a .597 career OPS.
In the six seasons since the swap, the Tigers' perpetual rebuild chugs along. In exchange for two Cy Young awards, 102 starts, 61 wins, 825 strikeouts, a 0.833 WHIP and a 2.26 ERA, the Tigers received 146 games at the big league level, most played at a far below average level.
For comparison's sake, the Astros have played 86 playoff games since landing Verlander, winning 53. In six seasons, Verlander's Astros have played more playoff games than the Tigers got regular season games out of Cameron.
In a weeks' time, Detroit watched one of its franchise heroes finally get over the hump, picking up the first World Series win in his illustrious career, while saying goodbye to a once promising piece that was supposed to be the replacement--the hope to come.
The Tigers played their part in helping the Astros cement their place as a dynasty. As the great philosopher Thanos once pondered, "But at what cost?" Tigers fans, too, can answer with, "everything."