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.

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

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?