Reports circling the internet tonight have linked the Orioles to DET SP Rick Porcello, who some have speculated might be on the move after DET resigned A. Sanchez this offseason. Duquette has been focused on trying to acquire a potential middle of the order bat, but several people close to the team have said it seems like he will make a trade at some point this offseason.
Why Porcello? For starters he's 6'5 200lbs, will be 24 this season even after 4 full years in the majors, and due to some creative subverting of the CBA is 1 day short of a 4th year of service time so he is under team control for 3 more seasons. While his stats show a near replacement level pitcher for his career, he has been durable making 31 starts each year, except for the one season the team sent him down for 4 starts to save the service time which he made 27 starts. He also has a Fangraphs career GB/FB ratio of 1.86 breaking the 2.0 threshold last year with a 2.36, and a career GB% of 52.3 where league average is somewhere around 44%. That aspect makes him enticing in HR friendly Camden Yards, and it sheds more light onto Porcello's numbers as he is reliant on a good infield defense to be the best that he can be, and DET has had a sub par defense for years. Getting him out of DET and to an improved Orioles infield should help his numbers alone, not even allowing for natural maturation as he is getting more experienced and closer to his prime years. Porcello's K/9 rate has been increasing every year, as has his K/BB rate, which is showing better pitching intelligence as he is learning the league and learning better habits.
Porcello throws one of his two fastballs almost 70% of the time, while scattering an equal number of sliders and changeups, and rarely throwing a curve. The problem with this mix is that his slider is very hittable, often hanging middle-in to RHB and it's his change with good sink that he most often gets batters to chase. If he would reduce the number of sliders thrown and go to more of a heavy FB/CH rotation he would be much more effective. Fortunately, BAL currently has a pitching philosophy that lends to a FB/CH/CV arsenal, so there is some potential to get him to change his patterns and use his best tools most often.
What would he cost? That is always a loaded question since actual value for a player isn't determined until he is actually traded. Many times a player is speculated to bring back a large haul to go for less than anticipated, so speculating is kind of a waste...but where is the fun in that? DET is a solid contending team with a future star 3B prospect in the wings, a couple mashers in the middle of the order and a fairly solid rotation after resigning Sanchez. The spot that stands out the most as potential for improvement is at the back end of the BP where the team has said it is comfortable starting with fireballing Rondon and his 100mph fastball to start the season, but one can't help but think that a solid experienced closer, allowing DET to apprentice Rondon as a set up man is a more desirable option. Speculation will naturally center on a deal of Jim Johnson for Porcello, which could make sense for both sides. The O's have players they could audition or move into that role (Arrieta, Hunter, O'Day, Strop) and DET has 6 SP for 5 spots in the rotation with Verlander, Sanchez, Smyly, Fister and Scherzer in addition to Porcello. With Johnson up for FA in 2 years and Porcello in 3 the service times and arbitration costs aren't too far off from each other, it seems like the framework of a deal could be in place.
The Orioles have also been linked to the Mariners possibly for Justin Smoak as a buy low candidate and to free agent Joe Saunders who pitched great down the stretch, but with inflated SP prices could demand quite a premium on the market right now.
Taking a chance that Porcello would break out a bit this year and stabilize the rotation further may be worth the risk of dealing a very solid closer who is getting too expensive for the team and will be looking at large raises in arbitration the next two seasons.