Friday, November 2, 2012

2013 Starting Rotation

The Tigers are going to have an interesting conundrum this offseason. After a shaky start, Anibal Sanchez was outstanding in September and October, proving to be a key cog in the Tigers World Series run. Unfortunately, he should be a hot commodity come the offseason after proving the he is a durable number 3 starter at worst with number 2 upside who is capable pitch in the American League.  Giving up our top overall prospect, Jacob Turner, and our top catching prospect, Rob Brantly, for a rental pitcher and a solid, if not spectacular, second baseman sits uneasily with me. 

The decision to resign him comes down to what the Tigers believe they have in Rick Porcello and Drew Smyly. While Porcello has never lived up to his billing as potential number 1 to back up Justin Verlander, he has been a quality back end starter who’s numbers would look much better if the Tigers defense wasn’t abominable. Smyly, meanwhile, is coming off a very successful rookie season where he posted a 3.83 FIP, 8.52 K/9, 2.99 BB/9 and 1.09 HR/9 which are actually better than Porcello’s numbers (3.91 FIP, 5.46 K/9, 2.25 BB/9 and 0.82 HR/9).

The might be the most pertinent time to trade Porcello who still has value as a 23 year old former top prospect. Trading Porcello and putting Smyly into the number 5 would give us room to keep Sanchez one of the better number 4 starter in the majors. This all depends on how much Sanchez demands on the open market. A reasonable deal for him would be in the 4/$45-50 million range but I could easily envision a team hurting for starting pitching throwing a 5/$70 million dollar deal at him that would be difficult to match.

Porcello Trade Options:
Assuming Sanchez is resigned, it’s time to look at potential trades of Porcello. One deal idea that has been floating around is Porcello and Nick Castellanos, the Tigers top hitting prospect who plays 3rd base and right field, for Texas’s Elvis Andrus. While this looks like a fair deal on the surface, unless Castellanos can learn to play at least an average defensive right fielder, Texas would most likely turn this down since they have Adrian Beltre signed through 2014(?) and Mike Olt, a top prospect in the Texas system. Texas also appears to have an affinity for hard throwing pitchers and Porcello is a groundball pitcher whose velocity has dropped dramatically in pro ball.

Since the Tigers main need is outfield help and a reliever or two, the Angels are in intriguing team to trade with.  Due to their likeliness of resigning Torii Hunter, they have a plethora of outfielders. A swap of Peter Bourjos for Porcello would be interesting for both teams. With above average infield defense, a pitcher friendly park, and a need for starting pitching, they would have to at least consider this deal. Bourjos is a very nice fit for Comerica considering the immense amount of ground they need their outfielders to cover. With an outfield of Bourjos, Austin Jackson and a platoon of Andy Dirks/Avisail Garcia, their outfield defense would be well above average.

What do you think the appropriate move for the Tigers rotation heading into 2013 is?


  1. We knew going into the deal that we might be simply "renting" Anibal. The price was high and a risk was taken. It looks like things worked out better for Sanchez than for the Tigers. I don't fault Ani for the situation. At the moment it looks less likely that the Tigers will be willing to compete with offers from teams that are more desperate for SP.

    But we won't know until we know. Many decisions hinge on whether we can put Anibal in a Tigers uniform in 2013.

    1. I think we should be fine without Sanchez since Smyly looks like the real deal, but it's always nice to have depth. With Sanchez, we, arguably, have the best rotation in the AL at least and it's tough to watch that walk out the door.