Oct 28, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers pitcher Drew Smyly (33) is relieved by manager Jim Leyland (right) in the 7th inning during game four of the 2012 World Series against the San Francisco Giants at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Tigers Potential Trade Partner: Pittsburgh Pirates

In exploring teams with a need for a starting pitcher, which many think the Tigers have an extra one of, I now turn to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates farm system is rich with pitching prospects, most notably Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon, but further down the chain as well with guys that have some upside. It isn’t a sure thing that they have enough guys to help right now in 2013.

Pittsburgh, given their recent efforts of the past two years is a team on the brink of serious playoff contention. Led by the dynamic Andrew McCutchen, the young, upstart Pirates have flirted with contention into August in 2011 and 2012. There are some needs for offense on that club, but with the recent issues with free agent acquisition Francisco Liriano, the Pirates may have to take a mulligan on getting their rotation better. That is where Detroit comes in.

Why the Pirates could use Porcello/Smyly:

As I just noted, it appears that Francisco Liriano, who they agreed to a contract with for 2 years and 13 million is having some health issues, and his contract may be avoided at this point. If you look at the Pirates current rotation, it looks like A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez, James McDonald, and Jeff Locke have a spot in rotation. They could simply go with internal candidates, and let guys like Justin Wilson and even Cole battle it out, but the Liriano dance they just had indicates they are looking for someone with some experience. Not to mention Locke isn’t solidified as a major league starter at this point. Though in fairness, Drew Smyly isn’t necessarily either, despite many’s belief that he will be a solid mid-rotation guy.

Why Pittsburgh is a fit for Detroit:

Unlike Milwaukee, the Pittsburgh farm system is one of the best in the game. Porcello and Smyly could potentially nab a couple of decent farm system guys, and of course, a deal involving those two could always expand, as Detroit could maybe throw in some offense as well. Anyway, if it is just the one pitcher, the Pirates farm system is deep enough to sustain the loss of say their 8th best prospect and the 21st in exchange for a guy like Porcello. Let’s not forget that Porcello, and particularly Smyly are still cheap and controllable. Two things that should appeal to the Pirates as well.

I’ve always contended that if the Tigers do move one of the two pitchers, it should be for a couple of younger guys with some upside instead of a reliever and a platoon bat. They wouldn’t be doing their commodities justice in those cases.


Pittsburgh is a better fit than Milwaukee, at least from the Tigers end if they are looking to add to their farm system. It’s questionable that the Pirates would want to part with a couple of guys though. The Liriano dance does suggest they would prefer someone with experience though in that rotation.

What do you all think? Is Pittsburgh a good partner with Detroit?

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  • YODA777

    You would part with Porcello for Pittsburghs 8th best prospect? Really? What good would that do the Tigers? It is a long shot that an 8th best organization prospect would make MLB, much less equate in value to a Porcello. Time for you to step away from the pen and paper and take a vacation. The Tigers need to keep Porcello as their #5 starter, wait until the trade deadline to see what his value is on the trade market. Meanwhile Smly starts the year in AAA and if he is pitching well, then and only then might I part with Porcello. Taking a longer term view, I do not see how the Tigers are going to be able to afford Scherzer when his control is up [Boras agent], so the Tigers are going to need another legit starting pitcher. For Gawd Sakes, Porcello is 23 frigging years old, relax and let the kid figure it out.

    • John Verburg

      Seriously? The 23 years old thing. The Porcello is young excuse is tiring. He isn’t young in terms of baseball experience, and after four years it appears he isn’t going to get better. He has no swing and miss pitch, and gives up a ton of hard hit balls. This is akin to waiting for Bonderman to develop that change up. His WHIP and BAA against have increased every year. The longer the Tigers wait, the more his value goes down and they won’t get squat for him, let alone an 8th ranked prospect in a strong system. Continuing to hold onto guys until all of their value is sapped isnt the best strategy. Porcello’s greatest attribute is his years of control and the perception that the Tigers infield hurts him. Doug Fister doesn’t have that problem does he?

      • YODA777

        So you are suggesting that, that is worth an 8th best prospect? Come on man! If that is all we would get for Porcello, it does not hurt to keep him, there is no need to trade him yet.

        • John Verburg

          I suggested he is worth two prospects in the article. As you pointed out, the likelihood that the Tigers are going to be able to keep all their starters in a couple of years is pretty slim. It would be nice to have a pool of potential starters to choose from when they go (which the Tigers seriously lack right now). Adding some talent to the minor league pool could help with that. You just have to trust DD gets the right prospects. I trust him to make the right deal dont you? So yeah, if I got Nick Kingham and Adrian Sampson for Porcello, I would be happy. Two promising arms. Heck, maybe you can get another prospect out of it too. I don’t know.

          And it could hurt to keep him. It’s the concept of the person replacing him being better. I personally believe that Drew Smyly is a better pitcher, and will be a better pitcher. I’m not handing the 5th spot to Porcello just because he has been in the majors longer. It’s not inconceivable the Tigers would be hurt by keeping Porcello in the rotation instead of Smyly and if Porcello is on the roster, my assumption is the Tigers are going to put Smyly in the minors.

          • YODA777

            If you want two promising pitching prospects that would be MLB ready in two years the Padres are a better dance partner. The Padre farm system is so bloated with B rated pitchers, that ultimately, they will lose some of them to the rule 5 draft going forward. In addition, the Padres hold 3 other intriguing pieces that would fill Tiger roster holes: A backup closer in case Rondon does not make it in Greggerson, a very athletic shortstop who led the N.L. in stolen bases despite not playing the whole season in Cabrera, and an excellent platoon partner for Dirks in Denorfia. Denorifia hits above 300 against lefties, with a pretty large sample behind it.

          • John Verburg

            Haha. Who says I wasn’t going to get to the Padres at some point? They are indeed loaded with arms. I hope that Porcello if he is kept increases his value and gets better. I really do. That would benefit the Tigers immensely. Obviously I just don’t think that will be the case. I hope I’m wrong.

          • YODA777

            Anytime you want input on the Padre farm system let me know, I follow both the Tiger and Padre system [down to the Dominican Leagues] very closely. Since I live in San Diego, I also hit the road to watch some minor league games in Tucson and Lake Elsinore.

          • thebucs1909

            I don’t know about this one, with Karstens coming back, and perhaps liriano, or saunders in the rotation, i would take saunders over rick porcello, although i might be crazy. We don’t need to give up more prospects for another half decent righty pitcher. They need another lefty. I think with morton coming back in the summer, and cole and taillon coming up through the ranks. we have no need for someone like porcello. I might want Smyly though. Thats my take.

          • YODA777

            How about Donn Roach and Luke Greggerson for Porcello? Is that enough? Maybe we can get them to put Denorfia in the deal as well.

          • John Verburg

            I wouldn’t mind that.