Lost amid the doldrums of late January—where both the meat of the Hot Stove period and the start of spring training are too far away for comfort—come reports that the Baltimore Orioles might be looking to bolster their pitching staff.
Don't let the accompanying report of Jason Kubel distract you. After Arizona dealt Justin Upton to Atlanta, the likelihood of it parting ways with Kubel became remote. But Porcello? He's still very much available...for the right price.
Detroit has an excess of starting pitching, which is obviously a valuable commodity for most potential trade partners. The Tigers are open to dealing Porcello, but aren't exactly going out of their way to do so. They want somebody to approach them. Per CBS Sports' Danny Knobler:
I'll be honest with you guys. I'm not much in the way of a mathematician, and I'm even less of an accountant. I'm not sure exactly who it would take for Baltimore to poach Porcello from Detroit, and I'm not sure how they're to go about making the financial stuff work.
But I am sure that it'd be in their best interest to try.
A peripheral look at Porcello's stats might suggest that he's in decline. Some of the towering 24-year-old's mainstream numbers have gotten worse during his four major league seasons:
A deeper look, however, suggests that Porcello might not be used goods after all. According to Fangraphs.com, the righty's WAR—an advanced metric that measures his success relative to a league-average replacement—has slowly risen from 2.0 in 2009 to 2.9 in 2012.
Put more simply: Despite the inflated WHIP and ERA, Porcello actually had his best season last year.
That he is valued lower than his actual output makes him a perfect target for the Orioles' thin rotation. Even in a season where (by most accounts) the unit greatly overachieved, Baltimore desperately needed someone like Porcello in the fold.
Here's how the projected rotation's 2012 WAR compares to Porcello's 2.9 (h/t Fangraphs):
In summation: The Orioles rotation supposedly "overachieved" in 2012, while Rick Porcello supposedly "declined." And he still would have been neck-and-neck with Jason Hammel for the role of ace?
Without even touching on Porcello's potential (again, he's only 24 and has plenty of room to grow), it becomes increasingly clear that Baltimore would be better with him in the mix. What it takes to get him is up for debate, but given Detroit's current pitching depth, it should be a pittance next to what he deserves.
Let's hope the O's step up and land that value.