Tigers talking trades early at Winter Meetings

Dombrowski says his club's starting pitching is drawing interest

Tigers talking trades early at Winter Meetings

SAN DIEGO -- The Tigers usually cast a wide net at the Winter Meetings on many fronts. It's early, but their approach this year leans pretty heavily towards the trade front.

"There's a lot of talks going on, actually," team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said on Monday evening. "I think I had more conversations this year trade-wise coming into the meetings than I think I probably ever have."

By comparison, their free-agent conversations so far here consisted of a couple quick acknowledgements with agents during Dombrowski's morning run along the waterfront.

"We haven't had any face-to-face meetings with any agents at this point," Dombrowski said.

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That seems to follow the industry trend in an offseason when more and more clubs are looking at trades to address needs, particularly with players in tricky contract situations. For the Tigers, that includes a rotation that has two starters (David Price and Rick Porcello) heading into contract years with uncertain chances at best of re-signing, and another (Max Scherzer) who's on the free-agent market.

The possibility of a trade with the Red Sox for power-hitting, strong-armed Yoenis Cespedes continues to percolate, but Monday afternoon reports -- including one by ESPN Boston -- suggested the two sides couldn't find a matchup that made sense.

Dombrowski wouldn't address specific rumors, other than note the heavy interest on his starting pitching.

"I will say a lot of clubs have asked us about our pitching," Dombrowski said, "but my comments are no different than they were the other day."

That was a reference to Friday, when Dombrowski suggested they weren't looking to trade starting pitching for outfield help.

"Doesn't mean clubs won't ask," he said.

It also doesn't mean Detroit won't look to acquire a left-handed-hitting outfielder without giving up a starting pitcher. The Rays have former Tiger Matt Joyce, who has generated buzz at these meetings as a trade candidate, and have enough starting pitching of their own. The Tigers, who traded Joyce to Tampa Bay for Edwin Jackson in 2008, know him well, having drafted and developed him.

Other possibilities are likely to follow as the week progresses.

"We really just kind of got started and rolling," Dombrowski said on Monday afternoon. "We'll get back together later on and then kind of proceed from there into the evening, but we really got started later than we normally would."

It won't likely take them long to catch up.

"Some free agents have signed. Some other guys are out there, but clubs are anxious to make moves and address needs that they have," Dombrowski said. "So we've talked a lot. I've talked to clubs on the phone here. I cannot tell you we're close to any deals at this point, but I would not anticipate being at that point right now. But things again happen very quickly, because there could be a phone call while you guys are sitting here and that changes."

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.