Once the Chicago Cubs locked down Edwin Jackson, and (presumably, though not yet officially) Carlos Villanueva, it was a pretty fair assumption that they were done with the rotation for the offseason. Indeed, GM Jed Hoyer said as much last week.
But these guys are tricky, as you well know.
MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports that the Chicago Cubs and Detroit Tigers are currently discussing a trade centered on starter Rick Porcello. The 24-year-old righty has been discussed around these parts many times, most recently when the Tigers – and not the Cubs – re-signed Anibal Sanchez, thus theoretically opening the door for them to deal one of Porcello or lefty Drew Smyly. Because of the Cubs’ subsequent acquisitions, it seemed a fair bet that Porcello would be going elsewhere.
But not so says Kubatko, who indicates the Cubs and Tigers have been involved in Porcello talks, according to something Kubatko heard last night. You’re probably wondering why a Baltimore Orioles reporter is breaking a rumor about the Cubs and Tigers, right? Well, he hears that the Cubs and Tigers aren’t a straight up match (there were reports that the two sides spoke back in December and couldn’t find a fit), and the Tigers have tried to pull the Orioles into the mix so that they can land shortstop J.J. Hardy. The Orioles, themselves, have a need for pitching, so you wonder why the Cubs would be involved at all, but, hey, that’s the rumor. According to Kubatko, the Cubs would send pitching to the Orioles, the Orioles would send Hardy to the Tigers, and the Tigers would send Porcello to the Cubs. Without knowing the pitching going from the Cubs (big league? prospects? low level?), it’s hard to understand exactly how this kind of circuitous movement would work.
Given that the Tigers are looking for a shortstop, you have to wonder whether they’ve been pushing the Cubs for Darwin Barney, who can almost certainly still play well above average defense at short. If so, maybe the Cubs have been reluctant to part with Barney for Porcello, whose peripherals are improving, but whose overall numbers have been disappointing in his young career. He’s also about to get expensive in arbitration.
Maybe the Orioles want Alfonso Soriano? Just throwing that out there. Neither the Cubs nor the Tigers would pluck the Orioles out of thin air to be the third team in discussions, so it would make sense that at least one of the two teams had already been having talks with the Orioles about something …
So, is there meat here? Hard to say, though I’m sure Kubatko isn’t totally making this up. Porcello did make sense as a Cubs target for a variety of reasons (age, buying low, switch to NL with better infield defense, etc.), and he absolutely is available. Acquiring him would certainly make the Cubs all the more able to move Matt Garza, if that’s what they’re hoping to do.
This may be something to watch.