The Padres Should Be Interested in Using Bullpen Depth to Acquire Rick Porcello


During the Winter, I mentioned how relievers Luke Gregerson and Joe Thatcher might have been valuable trading pieces for the Padres in the event that the Front Office tried to acquire more starting pitching help.  Although I missed on Thatcher, but Gregerson and closer Huston Street have been on the Detroit Tigers’ trade-radar as of late.  According to a recent report from, Detroit’s brass tried to trade starting pitcher Rick Porcello to San Diego in exchange for a veteran relief pitcher such as Gregerson or Street.

Detroit might be willing to trade Rick Porcello. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Armed with a bevy of talented starting pitchers, the Tigers have tried to move Porcello over the last two months for bullpen help.  I for one cannot blame them.  They have a young, yet experienced 24 year old player at a premium position, a valuable trading piece to help improve their ballclub in other areas.

If the aforementioned reports were in fact true, and the Padres could have acquired Porcello for either Gregerson or Street, I for one am disappointed that the move was not made.

Look, I understand the argument that he Padres have some young and talented starters looking to contribute.  Nevertheless, a number of them are not what you would call “beacons of health” at the moment.  Remember readers, both Joe Wieland and Cory Luebke are rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, and Casey Kelly appears to be heading down that same path right now.

Honestly, what is wrong with acquiring a little bit of insurance at the most important positional unit on the ball-club, especially someone with a solid mix of youth and experience like Porcello?

Plus, is there any real guarantee that the Padres will receive any sort of productive play from any of their injured starters?

As far as the bullpen is concerned, I will admit that the losses of Gregerson and/or Street might be tough to take for the Padres in 2013.  Gregerson enjoyed a terrific 2012 season (2-0, 2.39 ERA, 77 appearances, 72 K’s), while Street led the team in saves (23) and was the team’s only All-Star representative

But consider this Friars fans, what the team does have at the moment are a number of talented and young bullpen arms waiting behind both veteran relievers.  Brad Boxberger, Brad Brach, Nick Vincent, and Tom Layne all gained a solid amount of big league experience during the 2012 campaign.  Moreover, talented minor leaguers in the forms of Kevin Quackenbush and Matt Stites could reach the big league roster by season’s end as well.  And remember readers, do not count out Andrew Cashner either as a setup man again if he does not win a spot in the starting rotation.

Think about it, Gregerson will be a free agent after the 2014 season, and Street has been injury-prone throughout his career.  When was the last time that a 7th inning relief guy pitched his team to the World Series?  Furthermore, can the Padres truly count on a player like Street to stay healthy on a consistent basis?

Granted, none of the depth are as experienced as either veteran hurler, it might help the Padres to give some of their future contributors some chances to shine during a rebuilding season.  Plus, Porcello could be the #2 guy in San Diego’s rotation in the present, and still has plenty of innings and effective pitching left in him.

While Porcello is not an “Ace” by any means, he has been an effective pitcher for Detroit over his first four years in the league.  Overall, the 24 year-old has gone 48-42, posted a 4.55 ERA, started 120 games, thrown for over 162.2 inning in every season (176.1 last year), and posted a career high 107 strikeouts in 2012.  I should also add that the Tiger starter has performed well this Spring too.  Porcello has logged a 3-1 record (5 starts), thrown 18.0 innings, recorded 18 strikeouts, and posted an impressive 2.50 ERA.

Final Thoughts

Even though Detroit’s G.M. has denied the MLBTradeRumors report that the organization tried to deal Porcello, I would have to think that the Tigers would want to upgrade their bullpen at the moment.  Whether or not they are still interested in unloading their starter is still up for debate, but I would hope that the Padres would at least still be interested in trading for a pitcher like Porcello, even if it means giving up some bullpen depth.

As I alluded to before, a team can never have too much starting pitching.  I for one hope that Luebke, Wieland, and Kelly can come back stronger than ever, but they are not on the roster at the moment.  Furthermore, Jason Marquis and Eric Stults must also be up to the task of pitching consistent innings out of the rotation, and prove to be effective options in the #3 and #4 spots for San Diego this season too.

At least to me, a “Porcello for Gregerson” or a “Porcello for Street” deal would benefit both the Tigers and the Padres, and I hope that the Padres’ brass are trying to exercise a trade to bring him to San Diego.

Stats Courtesy of: Baseball Reference