Before the holidays ground baseball news to a standstill, there were rumors claiming the Tigers had interest in Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy along with the team placing 5th starter Rick Porcello on the trading block.
The latest rumor involves both Porcello and Hardy.
Roch Kubatko of MASN (The Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, jointly owned by the Orioles and Nationals) reports the Tigers and Cubs are discussing a deal for Porcello, a player which also interests the Orioles. Knowing this, along with the Cubs not having the players to make a two-way deal palatable to Detroit, the Tigers are trying to the rope the Orioles into the trade discussions in order to turn it into a three-way trade involving Hardy.
How would the proposed deal go down? The Tigers receive Hardy from the Orioles, Porcello heads to the Cubs, and Cubs send currently unspecified pitching to the Orioles.
The Orioles have been reluctant to trade Hardy, the reigning Gold Glove winner at short who is coming off a sub-par offensive season, posting a .238 batting average and an awful .282 OBP. But the Tigers have long been rumored to be looking for ways to improve their defense, and Hardy would be a definite upgrade over incumbent Jhonny Peralta.
But questions remain. if the Orioles are really that interested in Porcello, why not deal directly with the Tigers? For that matter, if the Tigers aren't interested in what the lowly Cubs are selling, it's a bit of a stretch to think the Orioles would be. It is yet to be seen if the Cubs have made players available which would entice the Orioles to jump into the deal.