I have never been particularly enthusiastic about the idea of dealing Rick Porcello (though dealing him for Roy Halladay a few years ago might have been nice) and continue to be puzzled at why Tigers management seems so focused on it.
Tweets continue to fly, including a few with information more concrete than what we had been privy to previously. According to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi, the Padres made the Tigers an actual offer which the Tigers declined. According to Jim Bowden, the Tigers made a couple of counter offers that the Padres declined. Supposedly those counter offers were either Porcello for Huston Street or Porcello for Luke Gregorson.
This is relevant for a Tigers fan (despite the fact that Porcello continues to be the default #5 starter) but not entirely encouraging. It is good to know that Dombrowski continues to be unwilling to unload Porcello for little or nothing in return (though we don’t know exactly what San Diego offered). It’s not so good to know that he would be happy to deal Porcello for a talented and proven bullpen arm – and that it doesn’t appear that Porcello’s value is high enough to get one. Both Gregerson and Street are good relievers, either could close for the Padres and either could close for Detroit. The are far superior to Carlos Marmol (and cheaper) because they don’t walk a batter an inning. But… they are relievers. They have put up good numbers in San Diego, but that’s not only in the National League it is in the most pitcher-friendly park in all of baseball (with a much better defense than Detroit has). It’s no given that these guys will outperform the righties currently on the Tigers roster. If you “translate” their numbers for park, league, etc… like Clay Davenport does you add half a run to Gregerson’s career ERA.
It would appear that Dombrowski is interested in flipping Porcello for guys that can make a real contribution, right now, at the major league level. I suppose that is a good thing, in a win-now mode the Tigers shouldn’t be particularly interested in getting a package of low-minors prospects. I’d certainly be less upset if the Tigers were to trade for a guy like Gregerson who had put up predictably good results for several years than a guy with talent but a less impressive track record (like Dan Schlereth or David Purcey). But still… a reliever? That’s it? Decent relievers aren’t really all that hard to find – in fact the Tigers already have a bunch of them. Even if Porcello doesn’t make the kind of strides we hope he will in 2013, starters who can do what Porcello has already done are much harder to find. In fact, starters with less talent get converted, fairly frequently, into relievers as good as Gregorson (like Joaquin Benoit and Octavio Dotel not to mention Charlie Furbush). Some of you might recall waaaaay back at the dawn of time (in 1995) when a 25-year old Panamanian rookie made 10 unmemorable starts for the New York Yankees before being moved to the bullpen… in those starts Mariano Rivera allowed an .852 OPS and a 5.94 ERA. In the ‘pen, that OPS allowed dropped to .543 – which is basically where it stayed for the next 17 seasons. As a starter, Rivera allowed a .678 OPS the first time through the order, an .827 OPS the second and a 1.254 OPS the third. Sound familiar?