The aging Detroit Tigers made a move toward youth and speed Thursday by trading for three players from three different teams.
The Tigers, whose starting lineup averages 31.9 years, traded right-hander Eric King, 24, to the Chicago White Sox for outfielder Ken Williams, also 24.Detroit also traded veteran infielder Tom Brookens, 35, to the New York Yankees for right-hander Charlie Hudson, 30, and sent utility player Luis Salazar, 32, to the San Diego Padres for switch-hitting minor-league infielder Mike Brumley, 25.
The key trade was King for Williams, said Detroit general manager Bill Lajoie. But the loss of Brookens, who had spent his entire 10-year career with Detroit, left the Tigers clubhouse in a state of shock.
"As far as I'm concerned, King was the best pitcher I saw in Florida," Lajoie said. "But we had a chance to add some youth and speed with two 25-year-olds who can run and throw.
"Williams and Brumley are every scout's dream. They're young players with tools. If they reach their potential, it's a hell of a deal. If one does well and the other doesn't, that's the chance you take.
"One player doesn't win a pennant or lose a pennant. But this gives us young players and a chance to win a pennant now."
Williams, a former defensive back at Stanford before devoting all his energies to baseball, was considered among the top prospects in the White Sox organization.
He made an impressive debut in 1987, hitting .281 with 11 home runs and 50 RBI in 116 games.
But Williams balked when the White Sox attempted to move him from center field to third base last year. He batted only .159 in 73 games and missed more than a month with a stress fracture of his left ankle. He was hitting only .147 for Chicago during spring training.
"Kenny is a great athlete and, believe me, his third base days are over. Those days for him are gone," Tiger manager Sparky Anderson said. "I love Kenny Williams. To me, he was the key to this deal."
Anderson said Williams will play center field, at least until Gary Pettis recovers from a sprained left thumb.
"I can see Williams as a leadoff hitter," Anderson said. "When Pettis comes back, I can see him there. I can see them platooning. We also can use Williams to rest Fred Lynn in left field.
"We're so balanced now, a lot of things can happen."