Would You Trade Rick Porcello?


When Motor City Bengals editor John Verburg charted the most trade-friendly Tigers last week, Rick Porcello topped his list. The summary on Porcello, which took salary, age, talent, utility, and availability into account, concluded that he “has all the qualities you look for in an easy to trade player.” Other writers across the web have joined in speculating on Porcello’s tradability as well.

Looking to the future, assuming Porcello sticks around, the Tigers have at least five talented young arms that they could potentially ride for at least a few good years. Justin Verlander will turn 29 before next season and is under contract through 2014. Doug Fister will turn 28 a few weeks before Verlander and isn’t eligible for free agency until after the 2015 season. Max Scherzer is almost six months younger than Fister and can’t become a free agent until after the 2014 season. Porcello, who will turn 23 in December, can’t become a free agent until after the 2015 season. Jacob Turner, 20 until May of next year, is under club control through 2015 2017.

Why would the Tigers want to break up a rotation that sets up like that? A few reasons.

First and foremost, the Tigers need some help at other positions. Many fans think they need to add a full-time second and third baseman. They also need help in relief. Another reliable right-handed option out of the bullpen could have made a huge difference in the ALCS. Are the players they need going to be available, and for the right price, in this year’s sparse free agent market?

This may not be a huge issue, but all of the aforementioned starters are right-handed. The club may believe that having a left-handed starter in the rotation would be beneficial for longer than just the few months at the beginning of 2012 while they wait for Turner to mature further.

Finally, though the Tigers’ minor league system is generally not very deep, they do have some pitchers–such as Andy Oliver, Drew Smyly, and Casey Crosby–waiting in the wings. A full rotation through 2014 could very well mean Detroit won’t be able to keep some or all of those arms in their organization.

Detroit would be taking a risk by letting him go, but could return multiple players to fill holes they may not be able to in free agency. They could also be maximizing his value, as some believe his talent has peaked. I’m by no means taking the stance that the Tigers should trade Porcello, however; I believe that he’s still going to get better and I really like thinking about the rotation I projected above being around for at least three more seasons. Rather, I’m simply laying out all the reasons a move that sees Porcello go could be a real possibility.

How hard would it be to say goodbye to Porcello and, if you were Dave Dombrowski, how much would you have to return in a deal in order to pull the trigger? Leave a comment and let me know.