The Detroit Tigers might move Rick Porcello before the 2013 season begins, but the Pittsburgh Pirates will have to sweeten the pot if they want to add the young right-hander.
From Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
#Pirates are interested in Porcello, but Tigers don’t want straight-up swap for Hanrahan
— Rob Biertempfel (@BiertempfelTrib) December 19, 2012
The player mentioned there is Joel Hanrahan, who had 36 saves in 40 opportunities as the Pirates’ closer last season, while posting a 2.72 ERA and striking out 67 in 59.2 innings. He has one year left on his deal at $4.1 million, then will be arbitration eligible in 2014.
Reports out of Pittsburgh lately have the Pirates trying to unload the reliever, but Biertempl’s echoing CBSSports’ Danny Knobler here — Knobler also said earlier this week that the Tigers are opposed to a Hanrahan-for-Porcello straight-up swap.
That’s wise on the Tigers’ part. Porcello’s value soon-to-be 24-year-old starter with 48 career wins plus the emerging trade market for him should be able to net Detroit more than a 31-year-old reliever, even one with 76 saves over the past two seasons. Hanrahan has never pitched in the American League and did not become a full-time closer until 2011.
Aside from experience, he also would not represent much of an upgrade over the Tigers’ current stable of relievers: Octavio Dotel, Joaquin Benoit, Phil Coke and Bruce Rondon, who is expected to make the club out of spring training.
While the Tigers may wind up trading Porcello, there certainly is no need for desperation at this point. If Detroit does not make a move, it would head into the spring with a rotation of Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Doug Fister, Anibal Sanchez and either Porcello or Drew Smyly, with the odd man out taking over long-relief duties — Porcello likely would be the No. 5 starter in that case.
A trade of Porcello might net Detroit a needed piece or two, but it would more or less eliminate any depth the Tigers have in the rotation. Should any of the top five starters then suffer an injury, the Tigers would be forced to turn to Casey Crosby or another of their inexperienced minor-leaguers (barring another move this offseason).
Porcello could open 2013 as a member of a National League team, but it doesn’t appear that it will be the Pirates if Hanrahan is all Pittsburgh is willing to offer.