The MLB trade deadline is on Sunday, and plenty of teams have already made moves. The Astros dealt Hunter Pence to the Phillies on Friday, and earlier in the week the Mets traded Carlos Beltran to the Giants.
The latest rumor involving the Tigers circulated around starter Rick Porcello and Rockies hurler Ubaldo Jimenez. Danny Knobler from CBSSports.com reported that the Rockies wanted top pitching prospect Jacob Turner and either Porcello or fellow starter Max Scherzer.
That effectively means the Tigers are out of the race for the Rockies' ace.
Shipping Turner is one thing. He's an unproven prospect that could potentially blossom one day into a Justin Verlander. The key word there is potentially. If the Tigers traded Turner and maybe a couple other players like Casper Wells or Andy Dirks, it wouldn't break my heart. Jimenez is already a proven winner at the big-league level, something the Tigers are desperately looking for.
But, at least this season, Porcello and Scherzer have proven they can win at the big-league level, too. Scherzer and Porcello both sport 11-6 records, trailing only Justin Verlander in terms of wins. Porcello has won his past five starts and Scherzer has allowed just six runs in his past four starts.
Jimenez this season is just 6-9 but is also pitching for a sub-.500 Rockies team. There's no doubt he would be a big addition to the starting rotation and probably even an upgrade over Porcello and Scherzer, but it is just too steep a price tag.
For one, trading either player for Jimenez would not solve the problem the Tigers have, which is a weak fifth starter. Phil Coke found out the hard way that being a major league starting pitcher is not child's play. He didn't even last half the season. Charlie Furbush got two starts before going back to the bullpen. Duane Below was called up from Triple-A Toledo and has been decent with five earned runs in two starts. However, he's probably not the long-term solution.
By trading Porcello or Scherzer, the Tigers would effectively be giving up a starter to get a starter, which gets the team nowhere in solving the problem. The team has already said it wouldn't give up anyone on the big league club, so it appears that general manager Dave Dombrowski is not insane.
Second, it appears Turner might be getting his shot with the Tigers. Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman reported that Turner has been called up by the big club, which puts Below's scheduled start on Saturday in question. If true, the obvious move would be to have Turner start Saturday since he is, after all, a starting pitcher.
With the deadline on Sunday, it seems a little late if this is just the Tigers showcasing Turner. That doesn't leave a whole lot of time to make a deal, although there are some last minute moves that could be made. It looks more like the Tigers are trotting Turner out to see if he's got what it takes. If he impresses, it might incline the Tigers to not make a move on Sunday.
And in the scheme of things, the Tigers shouldn't sell the farm to get someone who may or may not help them down the stretch. Just because a guy performs in one place doesn't mean he will in another; just ask Jarrod Washburn. Washburn was acquired by the Tigers during the 2009 season and went 1-3 in eight starts with a 7.33 ERA.
If Detroit is going to make a trade, they might be better off finding a middle reliever to solidify a somewhat shaky bullpen. David Purcey has been absolutely atrocious as of late and Phil Coke hasn't been lights out since returning to the pen (though it's better than he was as a starter). Al Alburquerque has been Detroit's only consistent middle reliever, and he's been spending a lot of time on the bench with injuries lately. The Tigers can't throw Alburquerque out there every day.
With Verlander, Porcello and Scherzer, the Tigers actually have a decent top-three rotation, perhaps the best in the AL Central. When Brad Penny isn't arguing with Victor Martinez, he's been fairly dependable as well. The big hole is in the No. 5 slot, and that really isn't something that the Tigers should break the bank to fill when you're getting quality starts four out of five times.
The Tigers currently hold a 2.5 game lead in the division, which is their largest of the season. I know that owner Mike Ilitch badly wants to win a World Series, but it shouldn't come at the cost of the team's future. Porcello is only 22 years old and has performed admirably in three big league seasons, working out the kinks in his armor basically on the fly with only one full season of minor league play under his belt. Turner isn't even legally allowed to drink alcohol yet.
In our "win now" society it might look good on paper to get Jimenez, but at that price it's just too much. The goal of a trade is to make the team better; giving the Rockies what they are asking for doesn't accomplish that.