Pitcher Rick Porcello, 24, has been linked to trade talks since the Detroit Tigers re-signed pitcher Anibal Sanchez to a 5-year, $80 million deal in December and since Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski told Lynn Henning of the Detroit News, "You can't have six starters." In the same article, Dombrowski said about the other young Tigers starter, Drew Smyly, "he's ready to pitch."
Since then, fans and the media have been following which teams are interested in trading for Porcello. First it was the Baltimore Orioles, then it was the Seattle Mariners and now it's the Arizona Diamondbacks.
I have been an advocate of Porcello staying with the Tigers due to his age and his potential to become a No. 2 or No. 3 pitcher in the starting rotation. It's too soon to give up a pitcher with his potential, who already has 48 career wins. Instead of trading Porcello, there are a few candidates from the Tigers' organization who should be traded instead.
Drew Smyly, 23, is a leading candidate, along with Rick Porcello, to be the No. 5 starter in the Detroit Tigers pitching rotation. Smyly has a higher value to the Tigers than Porcello does because he is left-handed, which helps to counter the Tigers' all right-handed starting rotation.
Smyly showed tremendous poise pitching as a rookie last year for the Tigers. Due to his calm presence on the mound and a maturity shown beyond his age, his value may be higher than Porcello's around the league.
If the Tigers made him available, he could bring back several different needs/players for Detroit based on his pitching potential instead of just filling one hole. According to Danny Knobler of CBS Sports, in December the Tigers were listening to teams calls about Smyly.
So, it appears that not only are Porcello and Smyly competing for the No. 5 slot, but for staying with the Tigers organization next season.
Casey Crosby is one of those prospects that seems to have been around forever. He's a left-handed guy who is currently slated to start 2013 in Triple-A. Crosby pitched in three games with the Tigers last season.
Crosby used to be considered a highly thought of prospect, but unfortunately elbow problems have slowed down his path to the major leagues full-time.
Crosby has a respectable 8.6 K/9, but his 1.84 K/BB ratio is a little too low for my liking for a supposed strikeout pitcher.
Why I believe Crosby should be traded is that he is 24 years old—the same age as Porcello—yet he hasn't been able to make the jump to the majors on a full-time basis.
Teams are constantly looking for pitchers with potential so maybe the Tigers can get someone of value to them that could fill another need. If Crosby gets traded, then Porcello can remain in Detroit's rotation and Smyly can go down to Triple-A in Toledo and wait until he is needed due to injury or performance.
Max Scherzer is the Detroit Tigers' No. 2 starter, or sometimes people refer to him as the No. 1B starter. Either way, while Scherzer had a great season last year, that doesn't mean the Tigers should sign him to a long-term deal. They need to explore what he is worth on the trade market.
I've already gone on record stating why Scherzer should be traded. With the Tigers not having come to an agreement yet with Scherzer, now is the perfect time to shop him.
Scherzer is arbitration-eligible and is asking for $7.4 million while the Tigers are offering $6.05. At the end of the day, I believe the Tigers will come to an agreement with him in 2013 and avoid arbitration, but having Scott Boras as his agent means that he'll probably want to test free agency in two years.
Due to Scherzer's shoulder worries with both the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Tigers last year, I believe he is a player that may have trouble staying healthy. I don't want the Tigers investing a large sum of money in him while there are other players that need to be signed to long-term deals as well.
The Tigers should pick up the phone before spring training starts—especially with quality free agent pitchers still on the market—and pull the trigger on a deal that will set the Tigers up for the future.
Luis Marte is a reliever for Detroit who can also fill in as a spot starter when called upon. He's 26 years old and while he's pitched decently in Detroit, he doesn't have as high of a ceiling as Rick Porcello. I believe this is why the Tigers are more committed to going with Porcello or Drew Smyly as their No. 5 starter.
Marte utilizes four pitches and was used as a starter when he pitched in the minors, before being converted into a reliever. Due to his history and repertoire, the Tigers can still have him fill in as a starter if needed.
Marte has a ratio of 7.6 K/9 in the majors, but has a 9.0 K/9 ratio in seven seasons in the minors. It's obvious that Marte has talent and maybe the Tigers could trade him to another team. If this occurs, then Porcello could be a reliever—which he may be better-suited for due to his lack of a reliable breaking ball.
Joaquin Benoit has been the setup man the past two seasons with the Tigers. While Benoit is entering the last year of his three-year deal and has done a decent job, I believe the Tigers should still shop him in trade talks around the league.
Benoit is 35 years old and the Tigers have some young arms that could come up through the minors. If the Tigers could trade Benoit for a prospect, it would also open up a spot in the bullpen for Porcello. The Tigers would still have veteran relievers in Octavio Dotel and Phil Coke to ease the burden of trading Benoit.
Another factor to take into account is that Benoit pitched in 73 games in the regular season and an additional six in the postseason. While Benoit is healthy now, he may not be able to pitch up to his standards due to the effects of last season.
Even manager Jim Leyland admitted on Saturday during TigerFest that Benoit's workload is an issue, when talking about him ever closing games. According to Tom Gage of the Detroit News, Leyland told the crowd, "Joaquin Benoit physically, I don't think he can do it. With all due respect to Benoit, he doesn't bounce back."
Leyland saying this goes to show that Benoit could struggle after the number of games pitched last season and that the Tigers should try and capitalize on a trade for him soon.