Pittsburgh Pirates Trade Rumors: Rick Porcello Fifth Starter?


We know what you’re thinking–Rick Porcello isn’t coming to Pittsburgh.  We feel you, with the Texas Rangers making big offers that the Tigers weren’t interested in, we find it hard to believe the Bucs will offer up enough to impress the Tigers.  But Rick Porcello is a name that simply won’t go away in the Major League Baseball trade rumor circuit.

As you know, if it’s out there, we are looking at it.  So with Justin Upton finding a home, Porcello is in the clubhouse with the lead in the coveted most rumored pitcher race.

It appears that the Detroit Tigers feel they have six starting pitchers and the 24-year old Porcello is the fifth best.  Looking at the Tigers, who want to win games immediately, rumors about Porcello and San Diego are flying.  Chris looked at those rumors in this excellent post at Motor City Bengals,

It seems very likely that Porcello will be on the move.  We have to think it will be soon, but we thought that months ago.  While the Rangers offered prospects, the Padres were talking relievers, it makes us curious what the Pirates could offer.

If the Bucs don’t feel confident in their starters, we have to wonder if the Bucs could make a play for Porcello.  The verdict on the confidence factor seems to always favor veteran-like pitchers for Clint Hurdle.  Especially when we read statements like he said this week:

"We like our three guys a lot."

So with doubts looming in Clint Hurdle’s mind about the starters, would the Bucs be interested in talking with the Tigers again?  Rumors on the internet connect the Tigers and Padres–we think they also make the most sense.  The teams were rumored to be trading offers back and forth and one said it could include Porcello for Huston Street or Luke Gregorson.

If the Tigers are that interested in a closer, how good would Joel Hanrahan look to them right now?  The Tigers weren’t that interested months ago, but now….we would have to think they would grab Hanny for Porcello if they had it to do over.  Fast forward to the present and we doubt Jason Grilli gets them too excited and Mark Melancon, well…

So the Pirates are in a rather dark place.  The team should trust the starters they have–one of Jeff Locke and Kyle McPherson can handle the fifth spot in the rotation, but the trust just isn’t there hence, Jonathan Sanchez and Jeanmar Gomez get starts the past two days.

The 6’5″ Porcello would have three more years of control, a salary under $5 million this season, and some level of upside.  Porcello won’t pile up strikeouts and his ERA+ has struggled. But looking at some of the really important numbers such as strikeout rate, walk rate, home-run rate and his FIP are going the right way.  Since 2009, the large scale numbers of ERA and WHIP have regressed, but the FIP has improved from 4.77 during the rookie campaign to at least a better-than-average 3.91 last year.

The bottom line is we think having Porcello would help Hurdle sleep at night.  But it’s not like we fault Hurdle for having concerns.  He is about a week away from being talked into having  Jonathan Sanchez in his starting five based on 2013 spring performances alone.