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With scouts watching, Rick Porcello turns in gem

Mar 4, 2013, 6:24 PM EDT

Rick Porcello Getty Images

At least according to the numbers, Rick Porcello turned in one of the best outings of the spring so far Monday, striking out six in four scoreless innings against the Astros. The watchers were likely pretty impressed, too.

With Porcello rumored to be available in trade talks, today’s performance came in front of a “ton” of scouts, according to FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal. MLB.com said it was “more than a half-dozen.”

The Tigers are weighing whether Drew Smyly‘s emergence as a rotation option has made Porcello expendable. The truth is that they don’t get as much from Porcello as another team might; the groundballs he so frequently generates too often skip past Jhonny Peralta, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. Give him another set of infielders and he probably would have finished with ERAs in the low-4.00s the last couple of years. Instead, he’s come in at 4.92, 4.75 and 4.59 since a stronger rookie season in 2009.

However, there is a problem in trading Porcello; especially after moving Justin Turner last summer, they’d have very little rotation depth beyond their top five with Porcello gone. Rule 5 pick Kyle Lobstein, veteran Shawn Hill, prospect Casey Crosby and relief candidate Duane Below are their next best options and none inspire much confidence. For that reason, the ideal Porcello trade might be similar to the one the A’s pulled off with the Diamondbacks last year, when they got Jarrod Parker in return for Trevor Cahill.

Alternatively, the Tigers could trade Porcello for a closer candidate. However, there don’t appear to be any teams looking to move established closers at this time. The Cubs’ Carlos Marmol is very much available, but he’s hardly a safe choice to close for a contender these days. Perhaps the best fit would be with Colorado and Rafael Betancourt. The Rockies could certainly use another starter with upside, and while Betancourt isn’t a big name, he’s an excellent reliever.

For now, the Tigers might as well take a wait and see approach and keep their six starters until the end of the spring in case one gets hurt. They’ll also have a better handle on their bullpen by the final week of the month.

  1. djpostl - Mar 4, 2013 at 6:34 PM

    Because facing the Disastros in a spring outing should be what they consider most in a possible trade?

    • scatterbrian - Mar 4, 2013 at 8:16 PM

      Not to mention looking at the dudes he struck out and their career K%:

      Justin Maxwell – 32.2%
      Fernando Martinez – 21.8%
      Carlos Pena (twice) – 26.8%
      Chris Carter – 32.3%

      He also got Matt Dominguez (15.5%), but still, not a bunch of contact machines.

  2. philliesblow - Mar 4, 2013 at 6:37 PM

    The Tigers traded Jacob Turner, not Justin Turner, to the Marlins last summer.

    • dondada10 - Mar 4, 2013 at 8:18 PM

      Justin Turner is the ginger on the Mets.

  3. craggt - Mar 4, 2013 at 6:38 PM

    I really hope they don’t trade him and use him as the fifth starter at the beginning of the season. Smyly still has plenty of options and all thing considered I don’t see him as a big upgrade over Porcello, I’d rather let him continue to develop in AAA and have him as an insurance policy in case any of our starters get injured like Fister did last year.

    • philliesblow - Mar 4, 2013 at 7:06 PM

      Agreed. I still don’t trust that Scherzer is 100% healthy.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 5, 2013 at 12:15 AM

        Don’t say it out loud, jinx! >:(

  4. illegalblues - Mar 4, 2013 at 7:06 PM

    i really think porcello can be a good #3 if he ever gets an infield that won’t give him tummy aches.

  5. barrywhererufrom - Mar 4, 2013 at 8:11 PM

    David Aardsma and Boone Logan for Porcello..and if they don’t like that David Robertson straight up for him should do the trick

    • dondada10 - Mar 4, 2013 at 8:22 PM

      Robertson is a decent start, but they Yanks got throw in some more pieces.

  6. dondada10 - Mar 4, 2013 at 8:21 PM

    Porcello has a chance to get pretty expensive in arbitration. He’s at 5.1 mil this year with two more years to go before free agency.

    Now, most teams will look at his 3 years of service as a good thing. It might, however, cause a lot of teams to steer clear of trading blue chippers for him.

  7. rockthered1286 - Mar 4, 2013 at 8:24 PM

    Jim Johnson for Porcello. Obviously some additional moving parts as well, but both teams would benefit and it would give the O’s a chance to put O’Day or Strop into that closer role.

    Just a thought.

  8. lembeck4 - Mar 4, 2013 at 8:58 PM

    Matthew, you do good work but a little research/spell check maybe? Jacob Turner, not Justin.

  9. joerymi - Mar 4, 2013 at 10:21 PM

    After Castellanos and Rondon, the Tigers system is mighty thin. Throwing Porcello or Smyly in the pen temporarly seems like a safer bet to offer some protection in the case of starting pitching injuries.

  10. historiophiliac - Mar 5, 2013 at 12:16 AM

    Thank you, Matthew, for our daily dose of Tigers awesomeness. <3

    • paperlions - Mar 5, 2013 at 7:09 AM

      The Tigers. Their GRRRRRRRRREAT!

      • historiophiliac - Mar 5, 2013 at 8:01 AM

        Go Tigers! Grrrrr!

  11. papacrick - Mar 5, 2013 at 7:58 AM

    They need to hang on to the young Crick. Ya just know mister fister is gonna pull a hammy or mad max will lose his arm slot. No reason to just give him away for a reliever either.

  12. Detroit Michael - Mar 5, 2013 at 9:01 AM

    I think Luke Putkonen might be the best Tigers starting candidate beyond the first six, but your point is well taken.

    Still, it’d be foolish to trade a decent starter for a reliver. One guesses that Porcello or Smyly would do just fine in the bullpen if the Tigers really needed that.

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