With the Tigers bringing back Anibal Sanchez on a five-year, $80 million dollar contract to shore up the fourth spot in the rotation, all signs seem to point to 23-year-old Rick Porcello getting dealt.
Speculation to a Porcello trade was pretty prevalent even prior to the Sanchez signing. George Ofman of Newsradio 780 out of Chicago suggested that the Cubs were interested in bringing Porcello aboard which he maintains even now after Chicago lost out on Sanchez.
Will the Cubs go after Porcello now? Problem is Tigers want a shortstop and Barney hasn't played there in a while. Also like Boesch.
— George Ofman (@georgeofman) December 14, 2012
Danny Knobler of CBS Sports also believes that a Porcello deal could be on the horizon with several NL teams interested as well as the Texas Rangers.
Will be interesting to see where the Tigers trade Porcello. Lots of interest from NL teams, but also heard Rangers as a possiblity.
— Danny Knobler (@DannyKnobler) December 14, 2012
But why trade a 23-year-old starter who seemingly still has some upside?
First off it could come down to the simple fact that Porcello is a right handed pitcher. Currently the Tigers’ front four are all right-handed something that could be offset with lefty Drew Smyly in the back end. Smyly also proved last season that he was very capable of being inserted into a starting role having won the job out of spring training and maintaining that role up until he got hurt midway through the year.
Second Porcello’s departure could come down to finances. In the coming seasons the Tigers could potentially be looking to lockup some of their front line starters in Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Doug Fister to long-term deals. Porcello, who would be entering the prime of his career, more than likely would be looking for a raise in which case you would have to wonder just how much is a number five pitcher worth? From this aspect Drew Smyly offers pretty much the same production at a cheaper price.
Finally, the direction the Tigers have taken in terms of their defense would dictate against keeping Porcello. Given the limited range the Tigers currently have up the middle in the infield isn’t a favorable aspect for the ground ball pitcher Porcello is.
There’s no question that Porcello still has plenty of upside and seems like a guy set to break out any time now. He could also be a viable option coming out of the bullpen in 2013. However at this point it looks as though the benefits of a trade outweigh any reason to keep him around.
h/t: FOX Sports, CBS Sports, Newsradio 780