Anyone up for a little trade talk (ranging from intriguing to wildly speculative) for a pick-me-up on this first Saturday morning of the season? I agree with Big Al's comment a couple of days that it's really too early for the Tigers to be making a deal, but I suppose you always check to see what might be available or lay the groundwork for potential transactions to come.
On Wednesday, I posted a rumor that Detroit had been talking to the Washington Nationals during Spring Training about reliever Chad Cordero. But given Cordero's current shoulder tendinitis (which now has him on the DL) and more expensive salary, it was suggested that perhaps the Tigers should be more interested in middle reliever Jon Rauch. During his weekly chat at washingtonpost.com, beat writer Barry Svrluga confirmed that 1) the Tigers and Nationals have talked trade frequently over the past couple of season, and 2) Rauch could very well be the preferred target.
Washington, D.C.: Any trade rumors you are hearing?
Barry Svrluga: The Tigers are very much in need of bullpen help, and they have sniffed around the Nationals in that regard for the better part of three years. They can't take Cordero now, given his health, but they will watch Rauch very closely.
(via MLB Trade Rumors)
On the more speculative front, Dayn Perry proposed a trade for Baseball Prospectus that might seem feasible, but could involve some daydreaming. It's premium content, so I'll sum it up in one sentence: How would Rick Porcello to the Twins for Joe Nathan suit you? Perry makes positive and negative arguments for both teams, but here's a sampling:
In the AL, there's precious little margin for error, and that means the Tigers don't have the luxury of trying to scheme their way around a sub-optimal pen. So to the market they must go.
Finally, trading Nathan gets the Twins out from under the rather silly four-year, $47 million contract extension to which they signed him last month. If Nathan's limited no-trade provision allows him to block a deal to Detroit, then the Tigers can likely coax him their way by agreeing to pick up his 2012 option.
Given how Porcello looked in his first start of the season, and with the Tigers likely having a need for starting pitching in the very near future, it's difficult to imagine them trading away the last remaining jewel of their minor league season. Even if it meant getting exactly the type of reliever they need. (Last year, Nathan posted 37 saves and a 1.88 ERA with 77 strikeouts in 71 2/3 innings.)
But as Perry pointed out, Minnesota just made a substantial commitment to Nathan that should entrench him as their closer for the next four years. Even if you say the Twins are rebuilding, with the talent they've accumulated and the team's track record under Ron Gardenhire, it might not be too long before they're competing for the AL Central top spot again.
But it's at least interesting to think about, no?