Mar 11, 2012; Lakeland, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) pitches during the first inning against the New York Mets at Joker Marchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Who To Trade, Who To Trade...

No, this isn’t Bleacher Report. We typically pride ourselves on sober and grounded ideas – no crackpot stuff – here at MCB. But, allow me to indulge myself just this once.

Here’s where the Tigers stand as of March 21st:
Surpluses: one too many starting pitchers
Weaknesses: farm system, infield defense
Needs: shutdown reliever, right-handed fourth outfielder
Strengths: everything not listed as weakness or need

The hidden weakness there is that the Tigers stand to lose their middle infield following the 2013 season and irreplaceable parts following the 2014 season. To continue to compete in 2015, the Tigers will need to make major moves OR maintain a Yankees-type payroll. In order to make a move – to shore up those weaknesses and needs as well as preparing for 2015 – the Tigers will have to deal from their only surplus. They have one more starting pitcher than they actually need, at the moment.

The assumption has been that Rick Porcello is, or at least stands to be, the odd man out so it is Rick Porcello that ought to be dealt. That’s inside-the-box thinking. The Tigers could do as well or better by dealing another starter to free up a spot for Porcello, provided that the other starter had a higher trade value to actual value ratio than does Porcello. It isn’t looking like Porcello is going to fetch a whole ton in return, at the moment. Give him three months and – if he keeps a K/9 rate over 6.00 – that might change. Teams pay for past production AND for potential (for guys with little or no track record) so ideally you’d like to trade a prospect that you think will flop at the big league level (like the Yankees did with Austin Jackson) or a veteran that you think has peaked and is likely to cost more than he’s worth in the future (like the Yankees did with Gary Sheffield). Porcello isn’t a prospect – he’s a major leaguer with a lot of innings under his belt. He’s 24 and developing, so he doesn’t fit into the second category at all.

Who does? Well, you aren’t going to like this… Justin Verlander. Yes, I am aware that Justin Verlander is the best pitcher in baseball and one of if not the best pitcher ever to wear the Olde English D. He also turned 30 in February, is likely to get the most lucrative deal a pitcher has ever received (probably not from Detroit) following the 2014 season and had been merely a good pitcher rather than the best pitcher prior to 2011. Predicting a 3.50 ERA and a measly 4 WAR from him this year and/or the next is not as absurd as it sounds: that IS what Steamer projects for him. All it takes is weighting his earlier numbers a little more heavily and maybe expecting a little more regression to the mean. If you sell Verlander now, you sell high and could potentially get a fantastically high price (and everyone in the world calling you an idiot, I would assume). Extend Verlander and you’re going to be regretting that deal just like they regretting Kevin Brown‘s. Let him walk and you’ll get a sandwich pick. Trade him in a year and his trade value will be lower than it is right now, and everyone will still hate you for it. Trade Porcello and you just don’t get anything for him and don’t address any short or long term needs or weaknesses.

So, here’s my trade suggestion – more to get some discussion going than any reasonable expectation that such a thing would be agreed to by either side.

The Detroit Tigers give up Justin Verlander, Jhonny Peralta and Luis Marte
The Texas Rangers give up Elvis Andrus, Alexi Ogando, Martin Perez and Odubel Herrera

Rangers fans rejoice. Tigers fans gnash their teeth and burn Dave Dombrowski in effigy. Peralta serves as a stopgap shortstop before handing it over to Profar and becoming a utility player for the rest of 2013. Verlander wins 20 games for them twice, then walks (all the way to LA). The Tigers make Ogando the new closer and promptly extend Andrus. Max Scherzer is dealt following the 2013 season (to, let’s say, Baltimore for Kevin Gausman and Jonathan Schoop) and replaced in the rotation by Perez.

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Tags: Detroit Tigers

  • FunkyTime

    Yes, you’ve lost your mind. I can see the Tigers trading Scherzer, but not Verlander. I see Verlander as much more likely to resign here than Scherzer.

    Also comparing Verlander to Kevin Brown is ridiculous. Kevin Brown was never the best pitcher in baseball over a 3 year span. And even if he was, and he’s the best comparison possible, he was still a great pitcher when he was 38 years old. Many truly great pitchers have had surprising longevity.

    As long as the Verlander contract isn’t too long, there’s no guarantee we’d end up regretting resigning him. He could easily wind up earning every penny that he’s paid.

    • chrisHannum

      Brown isn’t a perfect comp – but if you don’t think that he was the best pitcher in baseball from ’96 to ’98 before he signed that mammoth contract with the Dodgers that’s just due to the competition. During that span he went 51-26 with a 2.33 ERA and threw 727 innings. After signing the 7 year deal, he had a 3.23 ERA but missed a bunch of time. Before those three big years he was good but not great, a 3.78 ERA over 212 starts. [Verlander had a 3.81 before 2011, a 2.52 over the last 2] I bring up Brown because he wasn’t bad by any means, but the Dodgers still looked silly for signing him for that much over that long. Verlander also has comps like Jake Peavy, Johann Santana and Carlos Zambrano who have had much less to show for their post-peak years (so far).

      • FunkyTime

        Okay, Zambrano is an even worse comparison. Zambrano was never close to as good as Verlander has been for a 4 year span from 2009-2012. (I mistakenly said 3 years earlier. He’s actually been the best pitcher in baseball over a 4 year span now.)

        And saying that Verlander had a 3.81 ERA before 2011 is misleading. 2008 was his true outlier year. He’s only once had an ERA above 3.66 in his entire career, and has been in the top 11 in voting for the Cy Young every single year of his career besides 2008. Also both Zambrono and Peavy had their success in the NL, not the AL, which is much more demanding on pitchers.

        I really think you’re selling Verlander short overall, and you’re overlooking all the star pitchers that also compare similarly to Verlander but continued their success into their later years, including who Baseball Reference says Verlander most compares to in Mike Mussina.

        There’s no guarantee with pitchers. He could blow out his arm tomorrow and never be the same again. But considering Verlander’s record of dominance and completely injury free history so far, you can’t overlook the very real possibility that he’ll continue to be a great pitcher for many more years to come.

        • chrisHannum

          I’d expect him to continue to be very good for many years, but I’d still be surprised if he matched his 2011-12 dominance. The question though, really, isn’t whether Verlander will pitch poorly after age 30. The question is whether he could fetch a high enough price that dealing him could improve the team (particularly beyond 2014) – and what price you’d consider high enough to justify dealing him.

  • TheBigNice

    You want two years of the best pitcher on the planet?? I want Profar. Forget Elvis. Any Verlander trade before or during this season starts with Profar, in my world anyways.

    • chrisHannum

      I’m not so certain that Profar will be a better player – though he’d obviously be cheaper

  • Matt Pelc

    I would say you are crazy for trading one of the cornerstones of the franchise, however I personally feel the Lions should trade Calvin Johnson in a Hershel Walker-like trade. Collect those draft picks, shore up the holes on both sides of the ball and they may be a Super Bowl contender for a couple years to come. CJ has a couple more years at the zenith where he currently resides, unload him now and get as much as you can.

    So I understand where you are coming from on JV, however I think Scherzer is the one who will be dealt.

  • Damian56xx

    The frail and ever more elderly Ilitch desperately wants a ring or rings before he pushes off this mortal coil. Therefore, I truly doubt that the Tigers brass would deal JV and jeopardize their chances to win the World Series in ’13 and/or ’14. Had the Tigers NOT been swept by the SF Giants in the World Series last year, (((sniffle))) and had won it instead, then MAYBE your idea of trading JV this year might have had more legitimacy and reality to it.

    As we Tigers fans learned early last season with Fister, and much later with Scherzer, injuries can happen, and that supposed “surplus” of SPs can very quickly become just enough…if not enough. Really do not want to see Below or Crosby penciled in by Leyland to start for a few weeks, or worse, even longer.

    The Tigers FO are very likely going to try to extend JV, perhaps as soon as sometime during this season and they will probably negotiate a contract that is long enough to make Verlander a career Tiger, even if they know that there is a good chance that he might not be worth his $$$alary when it gets to the very first season that he would/could otherwise have signed with another team as a FA. (’15).

    I am fine with that IF the Tigers win a WS or two within the next several years, then b/c of either Mr. I passing away, or getting too old to own the Tigers, and sells the franchise, and then the Tigers might have to cut back payroll, but still may have a core of post-prime Miggy, Prince, Anibal, and Justin and mainly a cast of mediocre/AAAA players, along with perhaps only a few or several decent/very good/star players (two or more of Jackson, Avila, Castellanos, Garcia, Porcello, and/or Smyly, for example) surrounding them.

    • chrisHannum

      I have no reason to expect that the Tigers would do anything like what I have suggested, only that it might make sense for the franchise.

  • Oprk

    Thank you for not having a delusional idea on Porcello’s trade value. The last article I just read, the writer/fan thought Porcello would fetch Andrus and a prospect like Olt at minimum and by his comments section he wasn’t alone in thinking that was Porcello’s actual value. I was hoping that the kool-aid wasn’t too widespread in Tiger-town. Is Tui being viewed as likely to make the team? Not to be down on the guy but it’s gonna be a big letdown when the production stops altogether, he’ll make Boesch look like Braun if you give him a larger sample size to work with at the plate. Btw, Mariners fan here, hoping we ship you guys back Casper Wells if he inevitably doesn’t make the team and you still have a need to fill that right-handed fourth outfielder role so he can get on the field, seems like a good guy.

    • chrisHannum

      Seems like Ronaiah Tuiasosopo is being given a serious look, but he’d be a pure platoon guy if he made the team. And, not to be up on the guy, but his competition doesn’t really have more skills or a better track record.