JUPITER, Fla. -- The Tigers had a flurry of trade rumors surrounding their starting pitchers during the offseason until Doug Fister went to Washington. That seemingly ended the rotation speculation. Then came a Sunday report from Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe citing Major League sources saying the Tigers are still willing to listen on trade offers for Rick Porcello.
No sooner did the report hit MLB Trade Rumors than team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski denied any trade talks involving any of their starting pitchers, including Porcello.
"We're not trading any of our starting pitchers," Dombrowski said. "I don't know where that came from, but that is totally inaccurate. ... We haven't mentioned his name to one person. No one has called me [about him]."
Logistically, the rumor doesn't make sense at the moment. If this were last spring, and the Tigers had a ready replacement, then one could see the Tigers gauging interest, as they were rumored to be doing then. Porcello has two seasons to go, including this one, before free agency, so the Tigers have a decision to make about his long-term future. History suggests most teams try to make that decision with starting pitchers two years out from free agency.
Once the Tigers traded Fister, however, they went from six viable starters to five. If somebody gets hurt, their next man up would likely be Jose Alvarez or Kyle Lobstein. Robbie Ray, the prospect the Tigers received in the Fister trade, is expected to start at Triple-A Toledo, and even that is seen as an aggressive promotion by some. Unless the Tigers can re-sign Max Scherzer, they'll have a major rotation hole to fill this offseason. A Porcello trade would open up another.
From a performance standpoint, trading Porcello now would not be trading at his peak value. If one believes Porcello is set to benefit from an improved infield defense, then trading now could be argued as selling low.