This isn't the first time ESPN Insider Jim Bowden has tried to trade Rick Porcello or Avisail Garcia for a closer. In March he suggested the Tigers were trying to trade Porcello for Huston Street of the Padres. In April, he suggested Garcia might be a good offer for Street instead.
So, really, Bowden is just sort of recycling ideas a bit when today in his ESPN Insider column (sub req) he suggested a trade of Porcello and Garcia to the Cubs for Matt Garza and Kevin Gregg.
Garza is owed just $4.8 million for the rest of this year and is an impending free agent, so there is no long-term exposure. Gregg has been impressive closing for the Cubs, saving 15 of 17 games with a 1.78 ERA and 1.02 WHIP and would be an upgrade for the Tigers, whose biggest weakness is relief pitching. Above all else, the Tigers don't have to give up top prospect Nick Castellanos.
Not giving up Castellanos might be nice. But not giving up Porcello is kind of important right now, too, if you get right down to it. Since the nine-run gave against the Angels in April, he's been pretty good: He has a 3.81 ERA in those 13 games. He made three appearances without giving up a run, and just three appearances of allowing more than three runs. In fact, nine of the 13 games counted as quality starts.
That is essentially what the Tigers would be hoping for in Garza. During his American League years, he had a 3.97 ERA. It was 3.91 and 3.95 during his final two seasons in Tampa. Even with the Cubs last year, he came in with a 3.91 ERA before being lost to a stress fracture in his throwing elbow. He missed the early part of this season with a latissimus dorsi strain -- back pain.
As Bowden says, Garza's been good for his past five games. He has allowed no more than a run while going at least seven innings in each of them. He's also got a 10-strikeout game during that time. If he continues the rest of the season at that rate, he'd be quite an addition for a team. The smart bet is, he's not going to.
So it seems a bit odd to trade a perfectly capable pitcher from the Tigers rotation for one who carries both injury risk and no club control after this year who may in fact put up similar stats to the guy Detroit already has. In fact, it would make no sense at all from the Tigers point of view. With Drew Smyly no longer stretched out to start, Detroit would have little insurance against an injury to its rotation.
Of course, the logic probably goes that you're got to pay that to get Gregg involved in the deal. No doubt, Gregg would a good acquisition for a team: 1.78 ERA, 3.17 FIP, nearly 10 strikeouts per nine innings and less than three walks. Plus he's got the "proven closer" tag.
The problem is assuming the Tigers need to trade for a proven closer. Again and again, they do not. They need to acquire bullpen help, to be certain. Putting all your eggs in the basket of Al Alburquerque and Bruce Rondon being your right-handed salvations would be a dangerous mistake. What the Tigers need to do instead is seek out a "proven reliever" who doesn't have the premium of a closer tag tied to him. Maybe that's why they were seen scouting Milwaukee recently. That's a team with relievers coming out of the wazoo -- surely the Tigers could find something of interest without the necessity of giving up a rotation member and an outfield prospect with major league experience.
Trading Garcia would be acceptable in the right situation. This just isn't it.
So, in the end, I've probably written way more words than I needed to about this trade possibility.
No deal, Mr. Bowden.
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