Will Rick Porcello still be with the Detroit Tigers when spring training rolls around next month? That’s one of the key remaining questions of the Tigers’ offseason, and it sounds as if the Porcello trade rumors may be picking up steam again.
Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reported that the Tigers may be involved in talks with the Cubs and Orioles over a possible three-way trade:
I heard last night that the Tigers and Cubs are discussing a potential trade involving pitcher Rick Porcello, who also interests the Orioles. Now here’s the rumored kicker: The Tigers are trying to get the Orioles involved because they want shortstop J.J. Hardy, and they don’t feel as though the Cubs have the necessary components to make it a two-team trade.
For this to happen, the Cubs would have to send pitching to the Orioles as part of a three-way deal.
Nothing too concrete — or all that new — there, and Kubatko adds that he does not believe the Orioles “would part with Hardy unless they’re absolutely overwhelmed by an offer.”
Porcello’s name has come up repeatedly as a possible trade candidate since the Tigers re-signed Anibal Sanchez. Jim Leyland said last week that Porcello and southpaw Drew Smyly would compete for the No. 5 starting job this spring — the loser likely to be traded or used in long relief, as Smyly was for much of the 2012 regular season.
Dealing Porcello could help the Tigers upgrade at shortstop (where they’d prefer a more nimble player than Jhonny Peralta), find a right-handed bat to split time with Andy Dirks in left field or add a bullpen arm.
Of course, trading Porcello would erase any meaningful depth the Tigers have in the rotation. They found themselves flailing a bit last season when Doug Fister landed on the DL, so keeping both Porcello an Smyly may wind up being the plan.