Anibal Sanchez hasn't even signed his just agreed upon five-year contract. But his returning to the Tigers' rotation in 2013 has Rick Porcello's future in flux. After Sanchez signs on Monday, the Tigers will have six starting pitchers under contract and only five rotation spots.
With a few roster holes to fill, starting with a right-hand hitting left fielder, help at the back end of the bullpen and possibly a SS, rumors abound the Tigers have made the 24 year old Porcello available in trade. The consensus being it's only a matter of time before the Tigers move him.
Meaning Porcello has become grist for the rumor mill.
CBS Sports' Danny Knobler claims the Angels have been contact with the Tigers in regard to Porcello, and may be willing to deal Peter Bourjos, one of the best (if not the best) defensive outfielders in the game. Thinking about an outfield defended by Torii Hunter, Austin Jackson and Bourjos would quickly wipe our memories of the outfield train wreck which was 2012. The Tigers would have turned their outfield defense from a major liability to a huge strength in just one off season.
But as good as Bourjos is defensively, he is sorely lacking on offense. He doesn't hit well enough to play a corner outfield position full time. Do you really want to trade a young starting pitcher who can give you double digit wins, 180-200 innings and a league average ERA for a platoon outfielder?
If you don't like the light hitting (.247/.301/.402 in two seasons) Bourjos, the Angels could be willing to part with Mark Trumbo, a defensively challenged but powerful (61 home runs in two seasons) IF/OF. Trumbo is the antithesis of Bourjos, a power hitter who needs to be hidden on defense.
In trying to find an everyday spot for the 26 year old right hand hitting Trumbo, the Angels tried him at the corners in both the infield and outfield. 3rd base in particular was an experiment which ended badly. In Detroit, Trumbo would be something we're quite familiar; a below average left fielder with middle of the order power and a low OBP (.302 career). In other words, a better Delmon Young.
The Angels approaching the Tigers with either Bourjos or Trumbo in hand makes sense. Thanks to their surprising signing of Josh Hamilton and losing Zack Greinke to the Dodgers' bottomless pit of cash, the Angels have an excess of outfielders and are in need of starting pitching. The Tigers are their mirror image.
Another rumor which has gained some traction is the Tigers and Pirates hooking up in a trade for closer Joel Hanrahan. It's believed Hanrahan could be made available due to the Pirates signing Jason Grilli to a two-year contract (Yes, the same Girilli who was run out of Detroit with a mob hot on his heels). Hanrahan has 76 saves over the past two seasons, but only has one year left on his contract at $4.1 million.
Another trade a few baseball pundits have thrown at a wall to see if it sticks is the Tigers and Rangers hooking up, SS Elvis Andrus being the centerpiece. This one isn't sticking to the wall like the Angels rumors, though. Andrus would be a huge upgrade for the Tigers, but any deal for an elite SS would be long shot, at best.
There's also he old platitude, "You can never have enough pitching." The moment you think you have enough...well, we saw what happened last season. Doug Fister missed nearly half of 2012 with various injuries and Max Scherzer's ended the year with a fatigued pitching shoulder.
Keeping that in mind, the Tigers could go with the status quo to start the season - Porcello as the 5th starter and Drew Smyly stashed at Toledo as Triple A insurance. A trade doesn't have to be made now. There will be moves to be made at the 2013 trade deadline, and you could get a king's ransom in return for a decent starting pitcher.
But as nice as having an extra rotation arm sounds, there's another platitude which tells us Porcello won't be a Tiger much longer.
"Where there's smoke, there's fire."