Rick Porcello Rumors
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.
Here's the latest from the defending American League champions...
- Justin Verlander says he and the Tigers haven't begun discussing a contract extension but the right-hander wants to spend the rest of his career in Detroit, MLB.com's Jason Beck reports (Twitter link). Verlander's current deal (a five-year, $80MM contract) is up after the 2014 season.
- Also from Beck, the Tigers and manager Jim Leyland are likely to keep their year-by-year re-evaluation of Leyland's contract status going through at least the end of the 2013 season. Leyland has said that he wishes to take one-year contracts at this late stage of his career.
- Rick Porcello and Jhonny Peralta are both focusing on the upcoming season and not on trade rumors, George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press writes. Several clubs (most recently the Orioles and Diamondbacks) are reportedly interested in Porcello, while such teams as the D'Backs, Red Sox and Athletics have been linked to Peralta at various points this offseason.
- In regards to those Porcello rumors, Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers told reporters (including USA Today's Bob Nightengale) that while he'll listen to offers, it's doubtful that he will look to add more pitching since the newly-acquired Randall Delgado will compete for the fifth starter's job.
- For Detroit-specific coverage from MLBTR, check out our Tigers-only Facebook page, Twitter and RSS feeds.
The Diamondbacks will now try to package shortstop Nick Ahmed and a pitching prospect in a trade for the Tigers' Rick Porcello, a National League official told Bob Nightengale of USA Today (on Twitter). Arizona acquired Ahmed in this morning's Justin Upton trade with the Braves.
Arizona has been known to have interest in the Tigers right-hander but prior to this trade it was reported that they were unlikely to land him. Detroit was seeking a shortstop in a deal for Porcello, so Ahmed could be the piece that facilitates a deal. The 24-year-old posted a 4.59 ERA with 5.5 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 and a 53.2% ground ball rate in 176 1/3 innings this past season.
The 22-year-old Ahmed played at Class A this past season and posted a .269/.337/.391 batting line in 571 plate appearances. Baseball America named him the best defensive infielder in Atlanta's minor league system. Ahmed was the Braves' second-round pick in the 2011 draft.
12:21pm: It's unlikely the Orioles would acquire both Kubel and Porcello, Rosenthal writes in an expanded piece at FOXSports.com. Free agent left-hander Joe Saunders and trade candidate Alfonso Soriano are also possibilities, according to Rosenthal. Saunders seeks a three-year contract, but Soriano is the least likely option for Baltimore.
10:17am: The Orioles are pursuing a trade for Diamondbacks outfielder Jason Kubel, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter). However, talks are not at an advanced stage. The Diamondbacks were looking to obtain young pitching from the Orioles for Kubel earlier in the month.
If the Orioles were to acquire Kubel, he'd be in the running for playing time at left field and DH along with Nate McLouth, Nolan Reimold and Wilson Betemit. Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks would no longer have surplus outfielders if they send Kubel to Baltimore.
The Diamondbacks continue to weigh offers for Kubel and Justin Upton, ESPN.com's Buster Olney reported yesterday. The Diamondbacks want to deal one of the outfielders sooner rather than later and they feel as though there’s a good chance of getting “suitable value” for Kubel if they decide to deal him, Olney reported. Rival executives view the Orioles as a possible match for Kubel.
Rosenthal notes that the Orioles also like Tigers starter Rick Porcello. However, the Tigers don't appear to be in a rush to trade the right-hander Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reported yesterday. The Diamondbacks are also among the teams that have been linked to Porcello this winter.