Remember that trade speculation FoxSports.com's Jon Paul Morosi fired up about Tigers pitcher Rick Porcello back in July? Morosi noticed that Porcello's start for Triple-A Toledo was being pushed back a day, leading him to wonder if Kid Rick was being held back so scouts would get a chance to watch him.
At the time, the thought was that Detroit might be talking with the Arizona Diamondbacks about pitcher Dan Haren. The Tigers could've used a veteran starter, while the D-Backs were looking to cut payroll. Good match, right?
Except the Tigers shot down the rumors almost immediately. Jim Leyland was particularly outspoken on the subject:
"There’s a rumor going around, I don’t know if anybody’s read it, about Rick Porcello being traded," Leyland said. "I want to make this perfectly clear: That is a blatant lie. I don’t even know where it came from. That’s a blatant lie and it’s irreponsible journalism. There’s not a chance that Rick Porcello is going to be traded. That’s a lie. That’s not even speculation. That’s a total lie."
Well, here's the thing. Three months later, it turns out there may have been some reality behind those rumors, after all.
According to Fanhouse's Tom Krasovic, the Diamondbacks tried to talk the Tigers into trading Porcello for shortstop Stephen Drew. But Detroit said no.
Let's go over that again. The Tigers had a chance to acquire a young veteran at a position where they had a gaping hole most of the season and who's averaged 130 games played. Drew is in his fifth major league season, has a career average of .272/.332/.449, plays some of the best defense in the majors (according to Ultimate Zone Rating), and his contract status keeps him under club control for another two years.
But Detroit decided a 21-year-old starting pitcher whose progress may have been stunted by rushing him to the majors in his second professional season was ultimately worth more.
Look, Porcello might turn out to be a fine pitcher. By the end of last year, he was the Tigers' second-best starter. And at such a young age, who knows what he might develop into? On the other hand, who knows what he might develop into?
The future certainly seems very bright for Kid Rick. He's getting a feel for a slider, a much needed breaking pitch to go with his two-seam and four-seam fastballs. He's pitching deeper into ballgames, which not only shows that he's building stamina but learning how to pace himself correctly.
Yes, a baseball team can never have enough good starting pitching. And with Porcello (along with the right free agent signing), the Tigers could have one of the best rotations in the majors next year. But they'll still have a question mark at shortstop.
Jhonny Peralta has hit pretty well since coming to Detroit, but his range is limited. If the Tigers bring him back next season, it will likely be for $7 million - more than they probably would've paid Drew. And if Detroit opts for a Danny Worth-Ramon Santiago combination at shortstop next season, they won't provide the same offense-defense that Drew can give a team.
Porcello might be too talented to call replaceable, especially for a team that needs one to two starting pitchers next season. But those pitchers can be acquired through free agency or trade. Prospects like Andrew Oliver and maybe even Jacob Turner can get a shot. Finding a quality shortstop has become one of the most difficult endeavors in baseball. (Just look at next year's free agent crop.)
To me, this is a trade you make every single time. The Tigers had a chance to solve their shortstop problem through 2012, but passed. Maybe they'll get another shot in the offseason, but with Kevin Towers taking over as the general manager in Arizona, it might not happen. That could be a whiff that Detroit regrets for years to come.
(via MLB Trade Rumors)