January 25, 2013
Friday, January 25
The Justin Upton saga finally concluded on Thursday morning, when the Diamondbacks agreed to send the 25-year-old right fielder to the Braves, along with Chris Johnson, in exchange for Martin Prado and four prospects. Atlanta’s offseason, bookended by its acquisitions of the Upton brothers, is now virtually finished. But some believe that Arizona’s busy winter may grow busier still.
Despite early Thursday buzz, D’backs unlikely to trade for Rick Porcello
Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers threw a wrench into the Porcello rumor later in the day on Thursday, when he told reporters including MLB.com beat writer Steve Gilbert that another addition to the starting rotation is unlikely. Towers previously inked Brandon McCarthy to a two-year, $15.5 million contract at the Winter Meetings, and Randall Delgado, one of the other prospects in the Upton package, might factor into the starting five with a strong spring. With Ian Kennedy, Trevor Cahill, and Wade Miley already entrenched, and McCarthy a lock to join them, only one spot is up for grabs. And with Delgado now set to compete with Patrick Corbin and Tyler Skaggs—and Daniel Hudson expected to return from Tommy John surgery sometime this summer—there is not much room for Porcello, even if the 24-year-old northpaw tickles Towers’ fancy.
On the other hand, the Diamondbacks’ philosophy does make the sinker-oriented Porcello a logical target. Towers has, over the past couple of years, shown a proclivity toward ground-ball arms, likely owing to the hitter-friendliness of his home ballpark. Trevor Cahill, brought in from the A’s last winter, led all qualifying pitchers with a 61.2 percent ground-ball rate in 2012, and sidewinder Brad Ziegler, who came with him, paced the league with an extraordinary 75.5 percent mark. Delgado and fellow right-hander Zeke Spruill also fit that mold—according to a scout who offered Peter Gammons a rosier outlook on Arizona’s return than most were willing to venture—so the modus operandi at 401 East Jefferson Street seems crystal clear.
But what about the Tigers?
Given the Diamondbacks’ existing logjam, though, surplus is likely to trump strategy, forcing Dombrowski to pursue other leads with his best trade chip. After agreeing to a $5.1 million paycheck for 2013, in exchange for forgoing his second year of arbitration eligibility, Porcello is too rich to be moved to the bullpen; interested teams would almost certainly have to view him as a starter. Detroit’s ground-ball defense woes might make Drew Smyly—who also would infuse a lefty into what presently is an all-righty crew—a more attractive fit at the back-end of manager Jim Leyland’s rotation, so even if Arizona drops out of the running, Porcello is a strong bet to be traded. The D’backs and Mariners were believed to be the frontrunners as of last week, but the market could evolve to include numerous other teams during the coming days.