The Tigers have had a lot of turning points where they tried and failed to acquire or sign a top player, only to settle for somebody else who turned out to be way better. The Fister trade is the near the top of the list. Detroit tried to trade for Ubaldo Jimenez but wasn't willing to give up the pitching package Colorado wanted. Instead, it gave up far less for Fister, back then mired in the middle of the rotation in Seattle with less-than-dominant numbers.
Not even the Tigers could've envisioned what they got. Fister became a frontline starter virtually upon arrival, when pitching coach Jeff Jones saw his curveball in his first side session and asked him why he didn't throw it more. Fister went 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA down the stretch in 2011, beating Cleveland -- which traded for Jimenez -- three times along the way. He won two games that postseason, then became a mainstay in the rotation the next year.
Of the four players the Tigers surrendered, Furbush is the only player currently on the Mariners roster. Martinez, the key prospect in the deal, struggled in Seattle's system for a year and a half before Detroit traded back for him this year.
2. July 23, 2012: Tigers receive right-handed pitcher Anibal Sanchez, second baseman Omar Infante and a Competitive Balance Round A Draft pick from the Marlins for right-handed pitcher Jacob Turner, left-handed pitcher Brian Flynn, catcher Rob Brantly and a Competitive Balance Round B Draft pick.
Detroit went into the trading season with a starting pitcher and a second baseman as its glaring needs, and ended up filling both with the rare deal that works out well for both sides. The Tigers gave up their top pitching prospect and a left-handed-hitting catcher, but there's no way they would've gotten to the World Series without Sanchez and Infante.
Sanchez struggled for his first few weeks in the Tigers rotation, then posted quality starts in seven of his final eight outings, including a complete-game shutout of the Royals in the next-to-last week of the season. His seven shutout innings in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium arguably sent the Tigers on their way to the World Series. The Tigers liked him so much, they re-signed him to a five-year deal once he hit free agency.
Infante, meanwhile, stopped the revolving door at second base and made a sea change in the Tigers' middle-infield defense.
3. July 28, 2010: Tigers receive shortstop Jhonny Peralta from Indians for left-handed pitcher Giovanni Soto.
The Tigers were desperately searching for a hitter to keep their offense afloat after losing Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Guillen and Brandon Inge to injuries in the same week. They ended up with a soon-to-be two-time All-Star shortstop from a division rival.
Cleveland moved Peralta to third base a year earlier to make room for Asdrubal Cabrera, but had no plans to re-sign him as a free agent. So the Indians were willing to sell low, even to Detroit, which gave up a low-level lefty prospect in Soto. Peralta couldn't rescue the 2010 season (nobody could have), but with a new contract, his .299 average, .824 OPS and 86 RBIs played a critical role in the Tigers' run to a division title the following year.
4. June 20, 1985: Acquired left-handed pitcher Frank Tanana from the Rangers for right-hander Duane James.
Tanana had long since reinvented himself as a crafty left-hander instead of a power thrower before the Tigers traded for him in the middle of the 1985 season. The Detroit area native immediately benefited from the comforts of home, but his biggest impact came a couple years later, when he pitched a complete-game shutout in a 1-0 win over Toronto to clinch the 1987 AL East title.
5. Aug. 15, 2011: Tigers receive outfielder/designated hitter Delmon Young for left-handed pitcher Cole Nelson and right-handed pitcher Lester Oliveros.
Even though Young's regular-season numbers proved mundane, his October performance alone made this deal worth the Tigers' while. He homered five times in the 2011 postseason, including a critical solo shot in Game 5 of the Division Series at Yankee Stadium. After a miserable 2012 season, he hit three more homers in the playoffs, including twice against the Yankees again to win ALCS MVP honors.