Last year I heard from a source that Rick Porcello was a name to watch in the Matt Garza trade rumors with Detroit. I mentioned it again recently in the 11/4 rumor thread. Today, George Ofman mentioned it again on Twitter.
Ofman says he was "told there there was a little smoke here" in regards to the Cubs interest in Porcello.
In many ways, Porcello fits the profile of what the Cubs are looking for. He's just 23, he throws strikes (2.25 walks per 9 innings), he keeps the ball on the ground (53.2% GB rate), and he keeps the ball in the park.
On the downside, he doesn't miss a whole lot of bats. Last year he struck out 5.46 batters per 9 innings -- and that was a career high. He also gave up a whopping 226 hits in just 176.1 innings. Part of that can be attributed to a .344 BABIP which in turn can be partially attributed to playing with a poor infield defense behind him.
Porcello does have good stuff, however. He's 91-94 mph on his four seam fastball but relies more heavily on his two seamer, which is 90-92 mph but has good downward movement. He also throws a slider and a change. The pitch he really struggled with last year was the slider. It's possible it may benefit from some tweaking, or perhaps he may be better off junking it and going with a cut fastball instead. We'll leave that up to Chris Bosio and the Cubs brain trust should the team acquire him.
The end result was that Porcello finished with a 10-12 record and a 4.59 last season, but his xFIP was a more respectable 3.89. It's reasonable to assume he can do better with a superior IF defense behind him. The Cubs started 3 above average defenders last year in Luis Valbuena, Darwin Barney, and Anthony Rizzo. Starlin Castro also played above average after a bad start to the season.
If the Tigers re-sign Anibal Sanchez, Porcello is a 5th starter for the Tigers and a poor fit for the way that team is constructed. Moreover, he is going to arbitration and projects to make $4.2M next season. It isn't a lot but considering he's their 5th man, they may want to replace him with a cheaper option. They could use that saved money toward re-signing Sanchez.
As for what the Cubs could possibly offer the AL champs, it's really difficult to say. They showed a lot of interest in Darwin Barney last year but have since picked up Omar Infante. They could save an extra $3.5M, however, by replacing Infante with Barney. The Tigers also lack a closer after deciding to part ways with Jose Valverde and the Cubs have been dangling Carlos Marmol this offseason, though I don't know if he's the type of closer that would interest the Tigers right now.
All of this is speculation, of course, but there seems to be a fit here for both teams.
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