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Rick Porcello Rumors
6:53pm: Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski vehemently denied that he had proposed any deals involving Porcello, including any offers to the Padres, reports Lynn Henning of The Detroit News. Dombrowski acknowledged that his "phone has been ringing a lot," and added that "this is the best I've ever seen [Porcello] throw the baseball."
12:07pm: The Padres have turned down two offers from the Tigers, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com and MLB Network Radio reports (on Twitter). The Padres declined to take Porcello for Huston Street or Luke Gregerson, a Tigers source told Bowden.
THURSDAY, 8:33am: The Cardinals are checking out Porcello, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports (on Twitter).
WEDNESDAY: The Rangers and Padres are the teams most actively discussing potential Rick Porcello trades with the Tigers, Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports report. The Orioles have also scouted the right-hander.
Despite the strong interest, rival teams wonder if the Tigers will actually trade Porcello. Instead of making a deal, the Tigers could choose to keep Porcello and use Drew Smyly in the bullpen or as a starter at Triple-A Toledo. The FOX writers report that the Tigers will not move Porcello unless they obtain a strong return.
The Padres made an “aggressive” offer last week and the Tigers rejected it, Rosenthal and Morosi report. Talks with the Rangers are not advanced at this point. The Tigers appear to like shortstop prospect Leury Garcia and right-handed pitching prospect Nick Tepesch. Detroit would want a third player added to the package, but the Rangers are reluctant to move even Tepesch.
The Red Sox could have interest in Porcello, yet they don’t want to reduce their bullpen depth, the FOX duo reports. The Orioles aren’t inclined to pursue Porcello aggressively, as they have many young starting pitchers of their own.
The Tigers also seek a right-handed hitting outfielder. They have talked about re-acquiring Casper Wells from the Mariners, Rosenthal and Morosi report. The Tigers traded Wells to Seattle midway through the 2011 season in the deal that sent Doug Fister to Detroit.
The Yankees could sign free agent Kyle Lohse, but GM Brian Cashman isn't interested, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. "I don’t think it would make any sense whatsoever," says Cashman. "We have all of our pitching intact. Our problem is not our pitching. Pitching is our strength." Rosenthal suggests that one solution for the Yankees' problems with injuries to their position players would be to sign Lohse and then trade either Ivan Nova or David Phelps for offense, but that doesn't sound likely.
- The Tigers should not trade starting pitcher Rick Porcello, who could be on the verge of a "career breakthrough," Rosenthal writes. Rosenthal says scouts from the Padres, Rangers, Red Sox, Orioles, Dodgers and Cardinals were all in attendance to watch Porcello pitch a minor-league game Wednesday. One possibility for the Tigers to keep Porcello, Rosenthal says, is to put him in their rotation and then send Drew Smyly to Triple-A or use Smyly as a reliever.
- The Tigers seem likely to trade Porcello, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports (via Twitter). Martino quotes an unnamed executive who says the Tigers have been "actively calling around on" Porcello. Martino clarifies that the Tigers have been actively initiating talks regarding Porcello with other teams.
- The Nationals continue to be unconcerned about their lack of a second lefty reliever to pair with Zach Duke, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports. Instead, the Nats will allow their right-handers, especially Tyler Clippard and Ryan Mattheus, face lefties. "I have a great deal of comfort zone with some of my right-handers facing left-handed hitters," manager Davey Johnson says.
- As with most teams, players' option statuses will be an important factor for the Astros as they decide who will break camp with the team, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com writes. Tyler Greene, Lucas Harrell, Philip Humber, Fernando Martinez, Justin Maxwell and Wesley Wright are all out of options, and McTaggart reports that the only one who might not make the team is Martinez, who hit .314/.367/.507 in Triple-A Oklahoma City last year and .237/.300/.466 in 118 at bats with the Astros. The Astros risk losing him on waivers if he does not make their 25-man roster.
The Orioles recently discussed signing Kyle Lohse last week and are still scouting Tigers right-hander Rick Porcello, but team officials are currently satisfied with their pitching depth and probably won't make any major acquisitions, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports.
Though Lohse and Porcello would add some veteran (and postseason) experience to Baltimore's staff, Rosenthal notes that Baltimore already has ten pitchers battling for rotation spots. These pitchers include such promising young arms as Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman and Brian Matusz, all of whom aren't expected to make the rotation but will be in the minors and (in Matusz's case) in the bullpen for reinforcements should a need arise.
The O's have toyed with the idea of acquiring a veteran pitcher throughout the winter and have been linked to such names as Aaron Harang, Chris Capuano, Ted Lilly and Javier Vazquez. They have shown interest in Lohse as well, though only if Lohse and agent Scott Boras were willing to lower their asking price and accept a one-year deal. I listed the Orioles as a darkhorse candidate in my examination of Lohse's market last month, and as Rosenthal notes, Baltimore could stomach losing their first round pick (23rd overall) in order to sign Lohse since the team received an extra pick (37th overall) in the competitive balance compensation round.
Likewise, Rosenthal speculates that the Orioles could answer the Tigers' need for bullpen help and a right-handed hitting outfielder by offering a trade package like Nolan Reimold and a reliever in exchange for Porcello. Baltimore is one of many teams who have been scouting Porcello during Spring Training. Porcello projects as the Tigers' fifth starter though he could be expendable if Detroit feels confident that Drew Smyly is ready for a rotation spot.
Kyle Lohse is starting to get "antsy" about not yet having a contract, says Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Much of Rosenthal's item on Lohse focuses, however, on the possibility that the Cardinals won't get a compensation pick for Lohse, which would happen if Lohse doesn't sign with a new team before the draft in June. Rosenthal writes that Lohse's situation might encourage MLB to allow sign-and-trades, which would give teams who don't wish to lose draft choices more flexibility to sign players who have declined qualifying offers. Here's more from Rosenthal …
- Rosenthal reports that the Royals are looking for an outfielder they can use in place of Jeff Francoeur against good right-handed pitching.
- The Padres like Tigers pitcher Rick Porcello, Rosenthal notes, but are unwilling to part with a "top reliever." The Angels might make sense as a destination for Porcello, but the Angels are currently more concerned with finding a backup catcher and a relief pitcher.
- The Dodgers still appear likely to deal either Chris Capuano or Aaron Harang.
- Chris Snyder of the Nationals is almost certain to be dealt before the season begins, Rosenthal says.
The Tigers have uncertainty in their bullpen, and they could use a right-handed hitting outfielder. They also have six starters capable of pitching at the MLB level, which has led to speculation that Rick Porcello could be dealt. While the team doesn’t seem close to making any trades, general manager Dave Dombrowski acknowledged that he continues to consider various options, Chris Iott of MLive.com reports.
"I'm not lacking for trade phone calls," Dombrowski said. "That's not any different. I've had a lot of those phone calls. It's more people calling us at this point."
The Tigers seem more likely to open the season with Bruce Rondon or a committee of relievers closing games, Iott writes. The team may also rely on internal options in left field, where the left-handed hitting Andy Dirks will be more than a platoon player. Other teams have interest in Porcello, but the Tigers would have limited rotation depth if they dealt Porcello and replaced him with Drew Smyly. Instead, Porcello figures to open the season at the MLB level with Smyly pitching in relief or at Triple-A.
MLBTR reviewed the Tigers’ offseason earlier today.
The Yankees, who are hunting for a corner infielder to replace the injured Mark Teixeira, have asked Derrek Lee if he would be interested in returning to baseball, David Waldstein of the New York Times reports. Waldstein reports that Lee did show interest, although no deal is in place. Lee last played in 2011 for the Orioles and Pirates, hitting .267/.325/.446. Here are more notes from the American League:
- Fewer scouts watched Rick Porcello's start on Sunday with the Tigers than the dozen or so who watched his last one, MLB.com's Jason Beck reports. Beck notes, however, that scouts generally don't watch the same players over and over in the spring. Porcello has been the subject of trade rumors for the past several weeks, and the Rangers have reportedly shown interest.
- Signing Jim Thome or Bobby Abreu might be options for the Red Sox as they attempt to replace the injured David Ortiz, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe writes. Abraham suggests, however, that the Sox's in-house options, which include using Mauro Gomez, Ryan Lavarnway or J.C. Linares at DH or moving Mike Napoli or Jonny Gomes to DH in order to create a lineup spot for Lyle Overbay or Jackie Bradley Jr., might be more appealing. That makes sense, since it isn't yet certain that Ortiz's injured heels will cause him to miss more than a few weeks of the regular season.
Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan had dinner with principal owners Ray Davis and Bob Simpson Friday night to discuss his future role with the franchise. Simpson called the meeting "productive" while Ryan remained silent until today when he released a statement through the team. "Over the last week, Ray Davis, Bob Simpson, and I have been in discussion and met in-person. The conversations have been productive, and we have discussed my role as CEO of the organization. We agreed these discussions will continue as we go forward. I am very proud of what the Rangers have accomplished over the last several years, and I believe our preparations for upcoming season are what is important." Sources have told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram Ryan could leave after he fulfills his two remaining team obligations: in San Antonio for the Rangers' two exhibition games there March 29-30 and in Houston during the Rangers' season-opening series against the Astros. In other news and notes from the American League:
- Rick Porcello became the first Tiger pitcher to pitch five innings this spring, allowing no runs on three hits while striking out four. George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press tweets Porcello was happy to discuss his outing, but refused to comment on the many trade rumors surrounding him.
- J.A. Happ, also a subject of trade rumors, is frustrated by his role with the Blue Jays and sees himself as a Major League starting pitcher, according to MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm (Twitter links). Happ, as quoted by Chisholm on Twitter, realizes he is auditioning for other teams, "I know there are other people in the stands as well so I'm trying to just keep my routine and we'll see what happens."
- Indians manager Terry Francona has named Zach McAllister as the team's fourth starter, the Associated Press reports (via the Boston Herald). If the Indians choose to start Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, and Corey Kluber in the minors, the leading veteran candidates for the final spot are Scott Kazmir and Daisuke Matsuzaka, according to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer who would put his money on Kazmir.
Links from around baseball as Wednesday turns into Thursday..
- Cardinals GM John Mozeliak sounded upbeat about the club's contract talks with Adam Wainwright in an interview earlier today with Jim Duquette and Mike Ferrin of SiriusXM's MLB Network Radio. "Right now, I feel pretty optimistic that we’re going to find a way to get things done, but there are still challenges. But from my end of things, the fact that Steve Hammond and I are speaking is a good thing," said the GM.
- Tigers manager Jim Leyland recently floated the idea that using Rick Porcello as a closer could be an option, but he walked it back earlier today and said that it would be "highly unlikely", writes Jason Beck of MLB.com. Porcello is a trade candidate for Detroit due to their strong rotation depth.
- Jane Lee of MLB.com doesn't see the A's carrying two true first baseman this season, which would mean Daric Barton being left on the outside looking in. Barton re-signed with the A's this winter on a one-year, non-guaranteed $1.1MM deal.
Justin Verlander is mostly sticking to comments made two weeks ago that he'd like to be the first pitcher in baseball to sign a $200MM contract, according to James Jahnke of the Detroit Free Press. "They got taken out of context a little bit, but I'm not going to take back what I said," Verlander says. "Former players worked extremely hard and risked their careers, even, so we could have free agency. I think you do a bit of a disservice to that if you don't honor what they did and use the system to your advantage." Verlander's current $80MM contract is set to expire after the 2014 season. Here are more notes on the Tigers:
- With Bruce Rondon struggling with his mechanics, it's uncertain who will serve as the Tigers' closer, and manager Jim Leyland doesn't like that, John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press writes. "…[T]here is no question that it makes it a hundred times better when you have a closer that is a closer — and a good one — because it takes a lot of pressure off the manager," Leyland says. Nonetheless, Lowe writes that Leyland "ruled out" the possibility that Jose Valverde would return, and also suggested a trade for a closer wasn't very likely, either. An earlier report on Tuesday indicated that the Tigers were attempting to deal for a closer.
- Rick Porcello is unfazed by recent trade rumors, MLB.com's Matthew Leach reports. "I'm in camp with the Tigers right now. I'm looking to do stuff with this club. If something happens, I'll adjust accordingly," Porcello says. "But right now, I'm here, I'm wearing a Tigers uniform, I'm happy to be here, and I'm looking to continue working for this season." Leach notes that a number of scouts from other organizations were on hand to watch Porcello Monday, when he struck out six batters in four scoreless innings against the Astros.
The 24-year-old Porcello remains a popular name among trade rumors, given Detroit's enviable rotation depth. The former first-round pick pitched to a 4.59 ERA in 176 1/3 innings last season for the AL Central champs. Porcello's 52.3 percent ground-ball rate figures to be attractive to the Rangers, who pitch in the homer-friendly confines of Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
Porcello is under team control through 2016 and will earn $5.1MM this season after avoiding arbitration with the Tigers in mid-January. Earlier today it was reported that the Rangers were one of several teams who had scouts in attendance for Porcello's start against the Astros. Porcello whiffed six hitters in four scoreless innings, walking none and allowing three hits.