A report surfaced this morning out of Baltimore saying that the Detroit Tigers, Chicago Cubs and Baltimore Orioles had discussions on a possible three-way trade with pitcher Rick Porcello and shortstop J.J. Hardy being part of the deal.
Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports reported:
"I heard last night that the Tigers and Cubs are discussing a potential trade involving pitcher Rick Porcello, who also interests the Orioles. Now here's the rumored kicker: The Tigers are trying to get the Orioles involved because they want shortstop J.J. Hardy, and they don't feel as though the Cubs have the necessary components to make it a two-team trade."
This makes sense from a Cubs standpoint since they lost out on their main target---pitcher Anibal Sanchez---earlier this offseason when he elected to re-sign with the Tigers. The Cubs then went out and signed Edwin Jackson to a four-year deal.
While Jackson is considered a solid pitcher and a workhorse, Porcello is younger at 24-years-old and he has the potential to develop into a top two or three pitcher in a rotation. No one knows what the Cubs would be giving up, but their role in this trade is perplexing.
Kubatko also says he can't see the Orioles trading Hardy unless they get a great offer:
"I still don't think the Orioles are willing to part with Hardy unless they're absolutely overwhelmed by an offer. They love the left side of their infield. They're not looking to shift Manny Machadoto shortstop in 2013. Also, since the Orioles have discussed Porcello, why would they need the Cubs to get involved? Just deal directly."
Jon Morosi from Fox Sports also mentioned the Orioles' interest in December:
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 20, 2012
All of this suggests that the Tigers and Orioles each have a known need so why are the Cubs involved? It could part of a bigger deal that would include pitcher Matt Garza or outfielder Alfonso Soriano. If Soriano was involved then the Cubs would need to eat the majority of his $13 million salary this season.
From a Tigers perspective, Hardy would be an upgrade over Jhonny Peralta. Hardy, who is signed through the 2014 season, is great defensively and can also provide decent power. His strikeouts are on the high side but the Tigers would be able to live with it since he more than likely will be able to hit above .275.
On another note, the Tigers trading Porcello is a big mistake. He can still mature and find a reliable third pitch, and young starting pitchers capable of delivering 10-14 wins per season are tough to find. That being said, the Tigers are in win-now mode and acquiring Hardy would make them a better team.
Who knows if anything will come of these talks, but January just got a lot more interesting for the Tigers, Cubs and Orioles.