Rick Porcello Rumors

Tigers Avoid Arbitration With Porcello, Jackson

The Tigers and Rick Porcello have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $8.5MM deal, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (on Twitter). They've also agreed to a $6MM deal for 2014 with Austin Jackson, Sherman tweets.

Porcello, 25, was arb-eligible for the third time this offseason as a Super Two player. The Excel Sports client is controllable through the 2015 campaign and was projected to earn $7.7MM, per MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz. Porcello relies heavily on his high ground-ball rate and could see an uptick in performance with a new-look — and presumably, defensively superior — infield behind him in 2014.

Jackson, 26, is also controllable through the 2015 campaign, though he is not a Super Two player. A Scott Boras client, Jackson had been projected by Swartz to earn $5.3MM.


Quick Hits: Tigers, Napoli, Rangers, Rays

An interesting study by Conor Glassey for his website examines which states big leaguers in the past five years were drafted from. As expected, the warm-weather states of California, Florida and Texas dominate the rankings, together accounting for more than 40 percent of drafted players. However, Illinois high schools were found to be surprisingly productive in developing future big leaguers. Let's round up the latest from around baseball:

  • Buster Olney runs through Max Scherzer rumors in a video for ESPN, concluding that he will "almost certainly not be" traded this winter. The Tigers are in full win-now mode, and other teams are unlikely to surrender major talent for this year's AL Cy Young winner, as he's not expected to sign a long-term extension with Scott Boras as his agent. Scherzer, who's on track to hit free agency after next season, is projected to earn $13.6MM in his final season of arbitration by MLBTR's Matt Swartz.
  • Rick Porcello is "expected" to be traded, Olney says in the same video.
  • The avascular necrosis in Mike Napoli's hips has come up in discussions with some clubs, agent Brian Grieper said in an interview with WEEI, but other teams don't consider it an issue. WEEI's Alex Speier notes that Grieper opted not to disclose whether the first baseman had received a multi-year offer yet.
  • T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com becomes the latest writer to report that Masahiro Tanaka isn't a top target for the Rangers. Offense is more of a priority for Texas this winter, Sullivan writes.
  • Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times previews the Rays' potential targets in trade and free agency this offseason. At first base, the Mets' Ike Davis might be an option, along with Logan Morrison of the Marlins, Mitch Moreland of the Rangers, and another Met, Lucas Duda. In free agency, the Rays could attempt to court Corey HartLyle Overbay or Justin Morneau. Topkin also examines possibilities at catcher and closer.

AL Central Rumors: Hughes, Royals, Pierzynski, Twins

The Royals are among the clubs with interest in free agent pitcher Phil Hughes, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.  Kansas City pitching coach Dave Eiland knows Hughes well from his time spent with the Yankees and is a fan of his.  A return to New York isn't in the cards as both sides recognize that a change of scenery would be best.  The latest from the AL Central…

MLBTR's Mark Polishuk also contributed to this post



Tigers Open To Trading Max Scherzer Or Rick Porcello

The Tigers have told teams that they're open to trading either Max Scherzer or Rick Porcello, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (on Twitter).  Scherzer has been involved in trade whispers for the last few weeks as the Tigers are considering their options in the event that they can't hammer out a new deal before he hits the open market after the 2014 season.

The 29-year-old Scherzer pitched a career-high 214 1/3 innings, turning in a 2.90 ERA with 10.1 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and a 36.3 percent ground-ball rate in 2013.  While he earned just $6.725MM in 2013, MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects an increase to a whopping $13.6MM in 2014 following his dominant campaign.  Scherzer's 2.98 SIERA and 2.74 FIP are both among the seven best marks in baseball and among the six starters with better FIP marks, only Clayton Kershaw has a higher innings total.

Porcello, 25 in December, turned in a 4.32 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 across 177 innings of work.  Those numbers and some of the advanced statistics (3.19 xFIP) indicate that 2013 was Porcello's best season yet.


Tigers And Mariners Notes: Wells, Porcello, Loe

Former Tiger and current Mariner Casper Wells could be headed back to his old team, MLB.com's Jason Beck posits. "Maybe Casper Wells doesn’t make the Mariners roster," says Beck. "Maybe the Tigers can parlay their depth in another spot, maybe an extra reliever, into an extra outfielder." The Tigers currently have an open spot available for a righty-hitting outfielder. If they don't pursue one from outside the organization, that spot could go to Matt Tuiasosopo. Here are more notes from Detroit and Seattle.

  • The Tigers shouldn't trade pitcher Rick Porcello because doing so would weaken their depth, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman argues. The better move, Heyman suggests, would be to place Porcello in their starting rotation and use Drew Smyly as an insurance policy. That's a viewpoint Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski seems to appreciate: "Really, one of our big needs is starting pitching depth," says Dombrowski. "If we trade one of these guys [either Porcello or Smyly], then we hurt ourselves more in that area."
  • Heyman also notes that Dombrowski isn't nearly as eager as manager Jim Leyland to pursue a closer from outside the organization. "A manager and a general manager are in two different spots," Dombrowski says."I understand from a manager's perspective, he'd rather have one guy he can point to on a daily basis."
  • Jesus Montero's injury could complicate Kameron Loe's bid to be added to the Mariners' roster, Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times writes. Montero was struck in the head on Saturday by Francisco Lindor's backswing, and it's not clear when Montero will be able to return to action. If Montero isn't ready to go to start the season, the Mariners will have to add another catcher to the 40-man roster, perhaps Jesus Sucre. That might make it difficult for the Mariners to find space on their 40-man for Loe, and Loe can trigger an out clause in his contract on Monday.
  • Mariners pitcher Joe Saunders is happy to have the offseason behind him, MLB.com's John Schlegel reports. Saunders signed a one-year deal with the M's as a free agent. "It was nerve-racking, not knowing where you're going," he says. "It was the first real free agency for me, and it was an experience, for sure. It's a good one to be over with. I feel bad for Kyle Lohse."

Padres Notes: Garcia, Guzman, Porcello, Byrnes

Freddy Garcia hasn't pitched well for the Padres during Spring Training and is open to being moved to the bullpen rather than the starting rotation, the veteran righty tells Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune.  What Garcia won't accept, however, is a minor league assignment.  “The bullpen, why not?” Garcia said. “But I’ll go home at the end of spring training rather than go to Triple-A. I want to pitch. But I’m not going to Triple-A.”  Garcia signed a minor league deal with the Padres in January.  He is scheduled to start on Saturday, an outing that Center thinks "might be an audition for another team seeking pitching."

Here are some more items about the Friars from Center's recent chat with fans…

  • The Padres explored trading for Rick Porcello last winter and asked the Tigers if they had any interest in Jesus Guzman as part of the deal.  San Diego reportedly turned down a recent offer of Porcello for Huston Street or Luke Gregerson, though Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski has denied offering Porcello to anyone.
  • General manager Josh Byrnes said yesterday that he isn't currently involved in any talks for Porcello.
  • Center doesn't see the value in acquiring Porcello since Detroit's asking price is too high for a pitcher who Center feels isn't necessarily better than the Padres' young arms.
  • Padres ownership has given Byrnes the go-ahead to make moves and signed off on "a major offseason deal" that Byrnes was interested in but didn't end up coming together.
  • Center believes the club's management team wouldn't be in danger of losing their jobs in the case of a 90-loss season "but this is baseball.  Things change with the wind."

Olney On Chapman, Dodgers, Cabrera, Tigers

"[Aroldis] Chapman stands to lose millions of dollars by committing himself to a relief role," writes ESPN's Buster Olney in his latest column (Insider subscription required).  The fact that Chapman likes closing enough to risk these future riches, however, makes Olney think the Reds are making the right move by keeping Chapman in the bullpen as the club pursues a World Series title.  "Chapman doesn't have a plow horse's show-me-the-direction approach; he's known to be a complicated guy, and if he were to fight [starting] internally all year, it would be a mess," Olney says.

Here are some more items from Olney…

  • Rival executives think Asdrubal Cabrera will be on the trade block if the Indians get off to a slow start.  Olney speculates that the Dodgers could be players for Cabrera in the wake of Hanley Ramirez's thumb injury, though for now the Dodgers are satisfied to use internal options on the left side of their infield.
  • The Tigers "have not made a single specific proposal to another team, asking for a particular player" in exchange for Rick Porcello.  Detroit has told teams that they will listen to offers for the right-hander but only in exchange for Major League players, not prospects.  Several teams have been linked to Porcello, with the Padres and Rangers showing the most recent interest.
  • "Nothing is close" between the Giants and Buster Posey on a long-term extension.  We heard earlier this week that the two sides were still deciding the length of the possible new contract.  Olney believes that Joey Votto's recent extension with the Reds could be a model for Posey's new deal since Posey is athletic enough to handle playing third base or first base later his career.

Multiple Teams Pursuing Rick Porcello

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.


Quick Hits: Lohse, Porcello, Nationals, Astros

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.

Orioles Likely To Stand Pat With Rotation

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.