The list of starting pitchers that the Detroit Tigers are showing interest in keeps growing, and will likely continue to do so in the 13 days remaining before the July 31 trade deadline.
San Diego Padres right-hander Aaron Harang is the latest pitcher attached to the Tigers in trade rumors, according to SI.com’s Jon Heyman. (FOXSports.com’s Jon Paul Morosi later confirmed the report.)
Of the starting pitchers the Tigers have been linked to over the last couple of weeks, Harang might offer the best option not named Ubaldo Jimenez. (Personally, I would've liked to see the Tigers pursue him during the offseason.) Through most of his major league career, Harang has thrown strikeout stuff (averaging 7.4 over nine innings, and twice notching over 200 strikeouts in a season), something the Tigers’ rotation could use.
Obviously, the vast dimensions of Petco Park have to be taken into consideration when looking at the numbers of any Padres pitcher. (Sure enough, Harang has a 2.92 ERA at home this season.) But as Bless You Boys points out, Harang is also pitching well on the road, compiling a 3.81 ERA.
Harang’s contract also wouldn’t break the Tigers’ payroll. His contract calls for $3.5 million this year, and we’re already more than halfway through the season. The deal also includes a $5 million mutual option, or $500,000 buyout. (Those terms might be a reason why the Padres decide to keep Harang, according to Heyman.)
Bringing a pitcher from the National League to the American League is usually worth raising some suspicion. But Harang’s propensity for missing bats, along with continuing to pitch in a bigger ballpark (though Comerica Park is certainly no Petco), could lessen such concerns. (Harang also had his best seasons pitching in Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark, one of the most hitter-friendly parks in baseball.)
What would the Padres seek in return for Harang? Their needs aren’t stated as clearly as the Orioles saying they want pitching for Jeremy Guthrie. Judging from this MLB Trade Rumors post on what San Diego wants for reliever Mike Adams, it’s probably fair to say that the Padres just want top talent. The asking price for Harang might be lower than for Adams or Heath Bell. But with Harang’s team-friendly contract, the Padres might like to keep him as a veteran anchor for their rotation and thus drive a hard bargain.