As we move ever closer to Opening Day, the Rangers find themselves in need of a No. 5 starter. Their pursuit of another arm may very well end with the addition of either Kyle Lohse or Rick Porcello.
After the team missed out on Zack Greinke and James Shields this offseason, they were already thinner than they'd hoped in the starting rotation.
Things became slightly more pressing on Sunday, however, when prospect and projected No. 5 starter Martin Perez took a liner off his left (throwing) forearm and came away with a fractured ulna. He's now expected to be on the shelf until at least May (h/t Dayn Perry of CBSSports).
The team has some in-house option led by Robbie Ross and Justin Grimm, but the more attractive option at this point may be to go outside of the organization.
Selected with the No. 27 overall pick in the 2007 draft, Porcello made his Tigers debut two years later at the age of 20 and went 14-9 with a 3.96 ERA over 31 starts.
He's failed to post an ERA below 4.00 since, but he's been a reliable arm nonetheless and he enters the 2013 season with a career record of 48-42 with a 4.55 ERA.
Last season, he went just 10-12 with a 4.59 ERA and gave up an AL-high 226 hits. However, a closer look at the numbers shows he was the victim of some bad luck, as opponents had a .347 BABIP.
Some of that comes from the fact that he is a sinkerballer who pitches to contact, as he has a 5.0 K/9 mark for his career, but it is safe to assume his numbers will improve a bit with league-average luck.
Couple that with the fact that he's still just 24 years old, and there is plenty of reason for optimism surrounding Porcello for 2013 and beyond.
Since he's so young and under team control through 2015, the Tigers asking price will no doubt be high, but for the Rangers he would be a long-term solution in their rotation.
The 34-year-old Lohse was asked to step into the role of staff ace for the Cardinals last season, and he responded with the best season of his career, going 16-3 with a 2.86 ERA and finishing seventh in NL Cy Young voting.
He declined a qualifying offer from the Cardinals to kick off the offseason, but has seen very little interest this winter as teams have been unwilling to sacrifice their first-round pick to sign him.
Though last season represents the best of his career, he is far from a one-year wonder as he went 14-8 with a 3.39 ERA in 2011 and has 118 career wins under his belt in 12 big-league seasons.
He was understandably looking for a multi-year deal when he first hit the market, but at this point he may be willing to sign a one-year deal in the right situation.
He made $11.875 million last season in the final year of a four-year, $41 million deal, so if someone is willing to shell out something like $12-$14 million over one year he may be willing to sign.
Seeing as Perez is only going to be out until May, and the team should get Colby Lewis back from flexor tendon surgery at some point in the first half, the Rangers could actually have some depth by midseason even if they don't add anyone.
How Should the Rangers Fill the No. 5 Starter Spot?
Lohse better fits the bill of stop gap option that it appears the team needs, but the Rangers may not be willing to part with their first round pick for one year of Lohse. And at the same time, they likely don't want to sign him to a long-term deal.
If they were to bring someone aboard long-term, Porcello would certainly make more sense as he'd be a staple in the rotation for the next three years.
In the end, it would come down to the Tigers' asking price and whether three years of Porcello for a package of players is a better deal than one year of Lohse for a first round pick and higher salary.
My personal opinion is that the team is best suited giving the job to someone like Grimm or Ross for the first couple months and hoping they can hold down the fort until Perez and Lewis are back. That said, if Porcello can be had for the right price, he'd be a terrific addition to the staff, regardless of the team's health situation.