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.
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.