Originally posted on MLB Buzz  |  Last updated 1/14/13
The Baltimore Orioles aren’t interested in trading shortstop J.J. Hardy to Detroit for starter Rick Porcello. They may be more willing to trade closer Jim Johnson. At first blush, that seems odd. But there’s a sabermetric rationale behind it. Johnson could have a superb 2013 season and still not approach what he accomplished last year: He led the majors with 51 saves, made his first All-Star appearance and was one of the most dominant relievers in baseball. He turns 30 this June, so he’s right in the middle of his prime. At the moment, Porcello is probably the best fifth starter in baseball – considering his potential (still young at 24) and the Tigers’ pitching depth. Porcello is coming off an unspectacular season, 10-12 with a 4.59 ERA. But his numbers would improve with a better defensive infield – which the Orioles have, with the likes of Hardy and Manny Machado. Porcello is three seasons away from free agency, Johnson only two. Porcello has averaged a little more than 170 innings per yea
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