|Black and Gold soon?|
Porcello to the Pirates is more than just educated guesswork. The Tigers are known to be shopping their young right-handed starter. The Pirates are known to be interested. A logical fit involves the Pirates shipping closer Joel Hanrahan to Detroit. Here, Tony Paul of the Detroit News suggests the Tigers should send Porcello plus outfielder Brennan Bosch and/or a mid-tier prospect to acquire Hanrahan. Personally, I feel if the Tigers had actually made that offer, the Pirates would have already agreed.
Porcello is a former top draft pick that received a massive five million dollar signing bonus at the end of the first round. The prep righty was then quickly rushed to the major leagues, where he has endured his bumps and bruises. Still, he has a career 4.26 FIP, including a 4.06 FIP in 2011 and a 3.91 FIP in 2012. In addition, his fastball velocity spiked from an average of 90.2 mph to 92.0 mph last season. On the downside, he doesn't miss many bats (5.46 K/9 in 2012, 5.00 K/9 for his career), but on the upside, he counters his low strikeout rate with a low walk rate. In addition, he won't even turn 24 until the end of the month, produces a good amount of groundballs, and he's been relatively healthy over the course of his career. Finally, he's under control through 2015, a solid bonus. Ultimately, considering the positive attributes that come with Porcello, it will probably require Hanrahan and a decent prospect - say Phillip Irwin, who could replace void left by Porcello in the Tigers high-minors pitching depth - to land Porcello. To even out the numbers, the Tigers would send back one or two organizational players, rounding out a potential deal that would land Porcello in Pittsburgh.
The Marlins are in full fire sale mode. Out in the last several months are Jose Reyes, Mark Buherle, John Buck, Emilio Bonfacio, and Heath Bell, among others. The first four players on that list were traded in a blockbuster to the Toronto Blue Jays. Back came Yunel Escobar, who barely had time to wrap his head around the situation before he was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays. Ultimately, it seems no players are safe, meaning young outfielders Logan Morrison and Giancarlo Stanton are the Marlins most valuable trade chips remaining. They also have pitcher Ricky Nolasco.
Nolasco is an interesting pitcher. He owns a career 3.87 FIP, but a career 4.49 ERA. Considering Nolasco's career 1113.1 innings pitched, it seems that he - for whatever reason - manages to under pitch his peripherals. Still, Nolasco is consistent and fairly young. The 30 year-old - his birthday was this past week - has averaged just over 190 innings pitched the last 5 seasons, with a era around 4.50. It's definitely not sexy, but there are much worse options to plug in the last spot of a teams rotation. The issue with Nolasco is his contract. He's set to make 11.5 million dollars this year, before becoming a free agent. If the Marlins could pick up most of the contract, it would still take money off their books. The Pirates wouldn't need to offer much back. Brandon Cumpton or Drew Maggi would most likely suffice.
In the first version of this series, I suggested the Pirates attempt to Astros pitcher Bud Norris. Norris is almost the antithesis of another Astros pitcher, Jordan Lyles. Norris features a high strikeout rate, a high walk rate, and is no longer extremely young. Lyles, on the other hand, is still very young and has a low strikeout rate along with a low walk rate.
That low strikeout rate is a concern - Lyles has posted a career 6.35 K/9 - and Lyles doesn't really have the stuff that indicates it should improve drastically. However, Lyles is a former top prospect due to his floor. He's a safe bet to be a mid-rotation starter as he continues to mature. Lyles is only 22 and won't turn 23 until next October. He has shown good pitchability and excellent control to the tune of a a career 2.60 BB/9 rate and that number should diminish with experience.
In addition, Lyles is under team control through 2017, adding significant value to him as a trade chip. The price will be fairly high for Lyles and it might take Luis Heredia and a C prospect with upside such as Colton Brewer or Jake Burnette. An alternative might be a multi-prospect package containing several interesting names. Something like Nick Kingham, Willy Garcia, Dilson Herrera and Hunter Strickland might entice the Astros to further saturate their farm system.