In a surprising move, the Tigers have traded Pudge Rodriguez to the Yankees today for reliever Kyle Farnsworth. This means that Brandon Inge will be the starting catcher and Dane Sardinha would be the back-up unless they make another move prior to the deadline. Kyle Farnsworth will likely serve as the set up man for Fernando Rodney and perhaps become the closer if Rodney struggles in that role.
I'm not shocked that they traded Rodriguez but I thought he was worth more than Farnsworth. Pudge will likely be a type A free agent after the season which means if the Tigers had offered him arbitration and he declined it and then signed with another team, the Tigers would have received two first round picks in next year's amateur draft. Farnsworth is more likely to be a Type B which means they would only get one pick. Rodriguez did have a no trade clause so that may have limited what they could get in return. So why trade him? My guess is that he requested a trade because he didn't like splitting time with Inge behind the plate.
Rodriguez is batting .295 with 5 homers and a .755 OPS in 302 at bats. Inge is batting only .227 but actually has a higher OPS (.758) than Pudge. I don't think they lose a lot offensively going from Pudge to Inge. They may lose a little defensively but I think Inge is capable defender so I'm not too worried about that. What does concern me is that having Dane Sardinha catch a couple times per week will hurt them offensively.
The Tigers are desperate for relievers so Kyle Farnsworth should help somewhat. He has a 3.65 ERA and 43/17 K/BB ratio in 44 1/3 innings this year but has given up an alarming 11 homers. That's a lot of homers. He has been better recently allowing just 2 runs on 4 hits in his last 11 games spanning 10 1/3 innings.
As for next year, I believe Pudge would have rejected arbitration and signed a multi-year deal elsewhere so I think Inge might have ended up being the catcher anyway. I also believe Farnsworth will reject arbitration and sell himself to the highest bidder. Thus, the trade might not have a lot of bearing on the future except for the probable draft pick.