Seemingly all Winter and onto Spring Training, rumors have been leaking ever-so-occasionally of the Detroit Tigers’ disposition to listen to offers on the 24-year old RHP, Rick Porcello. With a starting rotation that stands very strongly with or without Porcello, the Tigers do indeed appear to have some legitimate willingness to deal the former top prospect, and it appears that the Texas Rangers are interested, as reported by Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi. To what extent the Rangers are interested in Porcello is unclear, but the 24-year old would certainly be an ideal fit in Texas.
Prior to his injury, Martín Pérez appeared to be the favorite to win the No. 5 spot in the Texas rotation, but as it stands now, the Rangers’ best options for the No. 5 spot in the starting rotation have come down to Nick Tepesch and Robbie Ross. Ross, whom was the Rangers’ primary LHP out of the bullpen in 2012, would appear to be the odd man out in the battle for the No. 5 spot in the rotation had LHPs Joe Ortiz and Michael Kirkman not displayed such strong Springs.
Colby Lewis, who missed the majority of the 2012 season due to a torn flexor tendon in his right elbow, appears to be ready to return the Rangers in mid-to-late May and would ideally slide into the No. 5 spot in the rotation, thusly bumping either Tepesch or Ross from the role, but there are obvious questions regarding how effective Lewis will be after rehabilitation, which is evidently giving the Rangers some reason to evaluate external options to fill out the rotation, which is where Rick Porcello enters the equation.
Based on WAR, Porcello is coming off of his strongest season to date. The young righty posted 2.9 WAR with a FIP of 3.91 in 176.1 innings in 2012. Porcello’s 2012 ERA of 4.59 is obviously not awe-inspiring, but don’t forget to take into account the Tigers’ weak infield defense. Porcello is a groundball pitcher and given the discrepancy between Porcello’s FIP and his ERA, it is evident that the Tigers’ weak infield defense is to blame. The Rangers on the other hand have one of the stronger infield defenses in all of baseball. So with Porcello pitching in front of a strong infield defense like the one in Texas, his ERA would correspondingly correlate more to his FIP, making Porcello a very solid No. 3 starter on a playoff team, with room to improve, given that he’s still only 24.
Rick Porcello is obviously a good fit for the Rangers, given his propensity to get groundballs, but what exactly would the Tigers want for him?
Rumors seem to indicate that the Tigers have interest in the Rangers’ Leury Garcia and Nick Tepesch, but I would think that the Tigers would want another prospect in order to agree to a deal. Perhaps a 3-player plackage centered around Luis Sardinas gets a deal done, and if that is the case, it would be a very solid deal on both sides. The Rangers would be acquiring a young and durable groundball pitcher and the Tigers would be acquiring a defensive whiz shortstop in Sardinas, to replace Jhonny Peralta.
Rick Porcello would provide the Rangers with a durable No. 3-4 starter, which sounds decent, until one actually realizes how rare a commodity that true No. 3 starters are in baseball. So there is obvious motivation for the Rangers to attempt to swing a deal, especially given the uncertainty at the bottom of the Rangers’ rotation, and as with any trade rumors, most of this conjecture depends on the Tigers’ asking price, but the Rangers are an ideal fit for Porcello’s services and the Rangers also seem to match up pretty well with the Tigers as trade partners, given the Rangers’ strong middle-infield depth, so only time will tell.