Jon Paul Morosi knows the Tigers. He’s much more in tune with the organization than really any national writer, with the possible exception of Danny Knobler. When he writes, I read, and I generally feel like he’s giving us the straight story.
According to sources, Morosi says, the decision to push Porcello from tonight to tomorrow came from the Tigers, not the MudHens, and it’s not injury-related. We know the backstory of Porcello and his fall from grace this year, but we also have assumed that of the chips that could be used in trade, Porcello was probably not among them. (…)
Morosi’s post mentions both Houston’s Roy Oswalt and Arizona’s Dan Haren as targets for Detroit, no mention as to what clubs will be scouting Porcello, but Morosi’s colleague, Ken Rosenthal, tweeted that Oswalt would not approve a trade to the Tigers. Detroit is also known to have interest in Arizona’s shortstop, Stephen Drew, but he alone would be too little return on Porcello.
But what if the Tigers could get both Haren and Drew from the Diamondbacks? A week ago I would have laughed that possibility off, an hour ago maybe as well. It’s not often you can make one trade and fill two holes long-term, not without giving up a ton to get it done.
But let’s look at the possibilities, shall we?
We know the Tigers entered the year with the youngest starting rotation in baseball, and Porcello was a part of that. Next season, four of the five guys that started the year with Detroit are already under contract, only Jeremy Bonderman technically needs replaced. We also know that there are more than a couple of kids on the farm that figure to contribute within a year or two, in Andy Oliver (already here), Casey Crosby, and Jacob Turner — and those are just the high-ceiling guys.
Haren is under contract through 2013 and he makes a decent salary at $12-13.5 million per year going forward, but those numbers could easily fit in the Tigers budget. Drew is also under team control for two more seasons and would fill the need at shortstop.
In theory, the Tigers could, could, have a rotation that includes Justin Verlander, Haren, Max Scherzer, Oliver, and either Armando Galarraga, or a reasonable facsimile next year. The rotation this season looks even better with Bonderman replacing Galarraga in that scenario.
But how much is too much to give up?
In losing Porcello, the Tigers would be trading away a guy who won 14 games before turning 21 years old. He’s the same guy that scouts compared to Josh Beckett when he was drafted just three years ago. While he hasn’t pitched well this year, it’d be very early to be giving up on him.
But in reality, Porcello is merely a prospect. Sure, he’s shown the talent and maturity to compete and even succeed at the highest level, so there’s no reason to think he couldn’t become a great pitcher, but Haren already is a great pitcher. That’s the eternal quandary facing any GM; weighing the reward of dealing for a known talent against the possibility that the players you give up turn out to be even better.
Make no mistake, the Tigers still value Porcello highly, which is the only reason I think a trade for both Haren and Drew is possible. Porcello alone probably won’t be enough to make it happen, however.
If we take a leap of faith, it’s easy to envision a bit of dialogue in which the Tigers and Dbacks are discussing Drew for a couple of prospects. Just so we have some names, let’s call them Danny Worth and Jay Sborz (just examples, I have no idea if these names have been discussed). The Tigers don’t want to give up so much without getting a big return, so Dombrowski mentions Haren and Jerry DiPoto doesn’t hang up, so they begin to kick around some ideas. DiPoto talks about Turner or Crosby or Porcello and Dombrowski doesn’t hang up.
I’m not saying it’s probable, but I can see how it’s possible.
I’m on record many times in saying that I would always trade prospects for proven commodities. There’s a limit, of course, but if a trade of Porcello (and others) to Arizona for Haren and Drew were to happen, I certainly would back the idea. Even if Porcello someday turns out to be better than anyone the Tigers got back.