The Mariners finally managed to unload Jarrod Washburn today. Washburn is one of the feel-good stories of the year, with a 2.64 ERA and an 8-6 record to boot after 4 straight years with an ERA over 4.00 and 6 straight seasons with FIPs over 4.30. His fastball is a little faster this year (back up to 2006 levels) and he's supposedly "perfected a 2-seamer" that is turning him in to the dominant pitcher that he's looked like so far.
Of course, if there's anything that the basic tenets of sabermetrics tell us, it's that the feel-good story is probably not for real. Washburn's FIP is actually up to 3.75, a mark he hasn't approached since 2002 with the Angels, when he had a 3.15 ERA. One look at xFIP over at THT, however, will confirm that Washburn is indeed not for real. xFIP, which adjusts home run rates, has Washburn as a 4.83 pitcher, due to his ridiculous 6.4% HR/FB rate. tERA confirms this, and has Washburn at a slightly-below average 4.60. ZiPS projects him at a 4.15 FIP going forward.
Lucas French is a 23 year old ML ready lefty who throws in the 88-92 range. His profile is very similar to that of another left handed major league pitcher - namely, Jarrod Washburn. In limited time so far this year (roughly 30 innings), French has a 3.87 FIP, which, much like Washburn, will regress towards average as his 3.9% HR/FB trends towards average. Much like Washburn, French doesn't strike a ton of guys out (roughly 6 K/9 in the majors so far, roughly 7 throughout his minor league career), but his decent control allows him to be a roughly average pitcher. French is under team control for 6 more seasons, which is the key to this deal.
Mauricio Robles is a 20 year old lefty who has risen to high-A this year. Between both low-A and high-A this year, Robles has a 10.7 K/9 and a 4.3 BB/9. Right now, whether or not he can stick as a starter is debatable, and depends on whether or not he can develop a change-up, but his high strikeout rates suggest he can be successful in some form.
Today, the Tigers truly acquired an average pitcher for another average pitcher and an interesting minor league chip. Detroit and Dave Dombrowski were fooled by Washburn's high ERA. With Washburn moving out of pitcher-friendly Safeco Field and losing the amazing defense of Langerhans, Gutierrez, and Ichiro in the outfield, expect that ERA to drop. French has already had some success in the major leagues, and his profile suggests that he will bring the Mariners a lot of value over the next 6 years.