Rick Porcello Rumors
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.
The Rangers have a number of reservations about signing Kyle Lohse, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports wrote last night. The free agent right-hander would require a multiyear contract, and the Rangers would have to surrender a draft pick to complete a deal. They'd also have limited time to get him ready for the season with Spring Training already underway. Here's more from Rosenthal, starting with some additional information on Lohse...
- One of the teams in touch regarding Lohse says agent Scott Boras seeks a three-year deal with a “big” annual salary for the 34-year-old, Rosenthal reports (on Twitter). Boras doesn’t give teams specific numbers in negotiations.
- A ton of scouts are in Lakeland to watch trade candidate Rick Porcello face the Astros today, Rosenthal reports (Twitter links). The Angels, Rangers, Diamondbacks, Twins, Braves, Yankees, Red Sox, Athletics and Mariners are among the many teams with scouts at the game, though some of those scouts are presumably there on regular assignments.
The Pirates inked Brandon Inge to a minor league deal with an invite to big league camp earlier this week. The third baseman obviously hopes to make the varsity squad but if it doesn't happen by late march, his contract includes an opt-out clause that will allow him to try elsewhere, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Post-Tribune. Here's more out of the Central divisions..
- There's been quite a bit of trade talk surrounding Rick Porcello this offseason but the pitcher says that he's not letting the speculation bother him, writes John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press. Some believe that Porcello could be slotted in the bullpen if Drew Smyly beats him out for the fifth rotation spot, but he's not open to that possibility. "I believe that I'm an established starter, and I believe that I belong in the starting rotation, and that's what I'm thinking about. I'm preparing to start for the Detroit Tigers. I'm not even considering the bullpen as an option," said Porcello.
- Torii Hunter is on board with the projections that have the reloaded Tigers pegged as the best team in the AL Central despite the upgrades made by Indians and others, writes James Schmehl of the MLive.com.
- Ian Stewart is ready to reestablish himself after a broken bone in his wrist hampered his play across the last two years, writes Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. The Cubs non-tendered Stewart this offseason before signing him to a non-guaranteed deal.
The latest from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports...
- Though Brewers owner Mark Attanasio recently said “there’s always a chance” that Kyle Lohse could end up in Milwaukee, Rosenthal suggests the free agent right-hander will likely sign elsewhere. The Brewers are reluctant to surrender the 17th overall selection in the upcoming draft in addition to the corresponding slot money. Lohse, the top starter remaining in free agency, has been linked to draft pick compensation since he turned down the Cardinals’ qualifying offer.
- Martin Prado’s bat might seem suited for second base, but Aaron Hill is already established at the position. It won’t be an issue, since the Diamondbacks want to keep both Prado and Hill, according to Rosenthal. Both players are clients of The Legacy Agency.
- Rick Porcello could benefit from pitching in front of a better infield defense, and he remains a potential trade target given Detroit’s starting pitching depth. However, some teams are concerned about Porcello’s low strikeout rate, struggles against left-handers and $5.1MM salary. If Porcello has a big year, he could obtain a substantial raise through arbitration leading up to the 2014 season.
- The Padres are likely to pass on Porcello for more affordable starters. Rosenthal suggests San Diego could look to trade for pitchers such as Aaron Harang and Luke Hochevar in Spring Training.
Two of the biggest MLB stories to emerge recently are the Justin Upton trade and the Mets’ interest in Michael Bourn. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports weighed in on both subjects in recent columns. Here are some highlights:
- The Tigers like shortstop prospect Nick Ahmed and wanted him as part of a package for Rick Porcello, Rosenthal reports. Those talks would have made yesterday’s trade with the Braves a three-team deal. However, Arizona GM Kevin Towers suggested to the media yesterday that he’s comfortable with his starting pitching depth after acquiring Randall Delgado from the Braves.
- The Mets would have the support of the MLBPA if they continue lobbying for the right to surrender a second round pick instead of a first rounder should they sign a free agent linked to draft pick compensation. But sympathy for the Mets would only go so far just one offseason after the completion of baseball’s collective bargaining agreement. MLB wouldn’t want to establish a precedent and would likely fight a grievance by the MLBPA, Rosenthal reports.
- Scott Boras, Bourn’s agent, is a factor in this as well, Rosenthal reports. MLB isn’t inclined to do Boras any favors such as making an exception for Bourn.