Rick Porcello Rumors

AL Notes: Cespedes, Mariners, Orioles, Howard

Trading Rick Porcello to the Red Sox for Yoenis Cespedes, Alex Wilson and Gabe Speier will likely cost the Tigers a draft pick, as MLive.com’s Chris Iott explains. Porcello and Cespedes are both free agents after the 2015 season, but the Tigers will not be able to extend Cespedes a qualifying offer. Cespedes’ will only have four years of service time, and so in order for his team to meet the requirement that he be a free agent after the season, he’ll have to be non-tendered. Non-tendered players can’t be extended qualifying offers. There are no such restrictions on Porcello (or most other pending free agents) being extended qualifying offers. So unless Porcello has a poor season (or re-signs with the Red Sox), the most likely outcome of the deal is that the Red Sox will get a draft pick as a result, and the Tigers will not. Here’s more from the American League.

  • Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik thinks he’ll be able to add an extra outfielder or two this offseason, Shannon Drayer of 710AM ESPN tweets. “I feel confident we will get something done,” he says. “There may be more than one thing.” The Mariners have reportedly made Melky Cabrera a three-year offer, and they’ve also had serious trade talks with the White Sox about Dayan Viciedo. Justin Upton is another possibility.
  • Another team looking for an outfielder is the Orioles, who seem more likely to sign one than to trade for one, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com writes. Delmon Young and Michael Morse are possibilities, and so is Cabrera, but only if he’s willing to settle for less than four or five years. The Orioles were also connected to Colby Rasmus last week. Kubatko notes that the O’s spoke to the Phillies about Marlon Byrd, but the Phillies offered a package that included Byrd and Ryan Howard. Howard, of course, is owed $60MM over the next two seasons, so taking on Howard’s contract just to get a good but not franchise-changing outfielder in Byrd would seem like a very tough sell for any team.

Arbitration Breakdown: Rick Porcello

Over the next few weeks, I will be discussing some of the higher profile upcoming arbitration cases. I will rely partly on my arbitration model developed exclusively for MLB Trade Rumors, but will also break out some interesting comparables and determine where the model might be wrong.

Rick Porcello enters his fourth and final arbitration year coming off of a career year — and heading to a new team. With a 3.43 ERA, he bested his career ERA by over a run, and he had personal records with 15 wins and 204 2/3 innings too. Porcello had never had an ERA better than 3.96—and that was his rookie year—and he had gotten 14 wins a couple times, although not since 2011. Porcello had also never thrown more than 182 innings, yet he beat that handily this year. After establishing himself as a slightly below average starter whose best characteristic was that he was durable, Porcello emerged as an important contributor in 2014.

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Detroit Tigers

Those three key statistics for which Porcello had a career record in 2014 (ERA, wins, innings) are by far the most important ones for starting pitchers in arbitration. Furthermore, in general only the most recent season counts towards a player’s arbitration raise once they have reached their second year of eligibility or later. The previous years’ performances only really matter in as much as they affect the salary base from which the player will earn a raise. As a result, Porcello is likely to get a healthy raise from his $8.5MM salary in 2014, and my model projects his raise to be $3.7MM, putting him at $12.2MM. By looking at other comparables, this looks like a reasonable estimate.

Shaun Marcum in 2012 received a $3.30MM raise after going 13-7 with a 3.54 ERA in 200.2 innings. Although strikeouts do appear to have some effect on starting pitchers’ arbitration cases, and Marcum had 158 to Porcello’s 129, the rest of Marcum’s case seems to be slightly worse across the board. His ERA is barely higher, his innings are barely lower, yet he won two fewer games. As a result, Marcum is likely to be seen as floor for Porcello. This means that Porcello is likely to be able to argue that any agreement should give him a raise of more than the $3.3MM than Marcum received.

A possible ceiling for Porcello could be Justin Masterson’s $4.07MM raise last year. Masteron had a 14-10 record, so he did win one fewer game than Porcello, and his 3.45 ERA was similar. Masterson also had 193 innings, which is less than Porcello’s 204.2. However, all of those numbers are similar and Masterson had 195 strikeouts, beating Porcello by 69. If strikeouts are given any real weight in Porcello’s process (which does not always seem to be the case), they are likely to make Masterson look like a ceiling because of the similarity of his case otherwise. However, if they are not considered strongly, then Masterson would look more like an even comparable for Porcello.

Another possible comparable could be Jason Vargas from 2013, who got a $3.65MM raise—just $50K less than my model predicts. Vargas went 14-11 with a 3.85 ERA, so he had one fewer win and an ERA 0.42 higher. But Vargas had 217.1 innings, topping Masterson by 12.2 innings, and he struck out twelve more batters. The case is definitely similar, with the extra win and better ERA not necessarily giving a better case because of the 12.2 fewer innings and twelve fewer strikeouts. As a result, the $3.65MM seems likely to be close to what Porcello earns.

I suspect that the model will nail this case based on these three comparable pitchers. This would put Porcello at $12.2MM in his last year before free agency.


AL Central Notes: Porcello, Scherzer, Melky, Twins

The Tigers didn’t trade Rick Porcello to the Red Sox due to a lack of progress in extension talks, Porcello’s agent Jim Murray tells FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi.  The two sides “briefly discussed” extending Porcello’s contract beyond the 2015 season, Murray said, “but it was more in the context of something both parties may or may not talk about in the future.”  Here’s some more from around the AL Central…

  • Though Scott Boras has openly said the Tigers won’t get a chance to match an opposing team’s final offer for Max Scherzer, an industry source tells MLB.com’s Jason Beck that the agent will indeed give Tigers owner Mike Ilitch a chance to match “at least as a professional courtesy.”  The good relationship between Boras and Ilitch has paved the way for several Boras clients to come to Detroit, perhaps most notably Prince Fielder in the 2011-12 offseason.
  • Also from Beck, he passes along comments from Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski reiterating that nothing has changed between Detroit and Scherzer.  “I guess anything can happen but we’re not in active pursuit at this time. We’re happy with our starting pitching,” Dombrowski said.  “Again, we love him, but as I said at the time, we were the sole club that could sign him last spring. It didn’t work. I don’t think our odds improve with 29 other clubs that could potentially try to sign him.”
  • Melky Cabrera is still the Royals‘ top choice to fill their hole in the outfield, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets.  If Cabrera can’t be signed, K.C. has such options as Nori Aoki, Colby Rasmus or Alex Rios as fallback options.
  • The vesting option on Ervin Santana‘s four-year contract with the Twins will require more than just 200 IP from the righty in 2018 to guarantee his 2019 season, a source tells Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (Twitter link).
  • The Twins haven’t discussed extensions with Phil Hughes, Brian Dozier or Trevor Plouffe yet this offseason, Mike Berardino reports (via Twitter).  Berardino suggests that talks could wait until January.  The three players have very different contract situations — Dozier isn’t arbitration-eligible until next winter, Plouffe is projected to earn $4.3MM in his second of four arb years as a Super Two player and Hughes still has two seasons remaining on the three-year, $24MM deal he signed last winter.  Of the three, Hughes would clearly be the most expensive to extend given his tremendous 2014 campaign.


AL East Notes: Red Sox, Miley, Cashman, Bruce

Even with Justin Masterson, Rick Porcello and (eventually) Wade Miley now in the fold, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington didn’t close the door on the possibility of more pitching moves.  “I think we’€™re going to keep working and see what comes to us. Our hope was to really strengthen our rotation, our position with the rotation, this week, or at some point soon. Hopefully we’€™ll be able to do that,” Cherington told reporters, including WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford.  The GM said he thinks teams can get by without having a frontline ace atop their rotation, though also pointed out his roster has “a lot of younger pitching that we think in time, some of them have a chance to develop into that type of guy.”

Here’s some more from around the AL East…

  • The Miley trade hasn’t yet been finalized since the Red Sox and Diamondbacks are “still squabbling about the extra player,” Arizona GM Dave Stewart tells reporters, including MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert.  The player in question is a prospect Boston will be sending to the D’Backs along with Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster.
  • The Yankees talked to the D’Backs and Tigers about Miley and Porcello, Brian Cashman told reporters (including George A. King III of the New York Post).  “Did I call Arizona? Yes. Did I call Detroit? Yes. I didn’t have [Yoenis] Cespedes to send to Detroit. We are waiting for something we are comfortable with,” Cashman said.  The GM said he “threw a lot of different ideas a lot of different ways” during a quiet Winter Meetings for the Yankees and he’ll “keep conversations alive” throughout the offseason.
  • The Orioles “kicked the tires” on Reds outfielder Jay Bruce but couldn’t match up on a trade with Cincinnati, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets.  In the wake of Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis signing elsewhere, the O’s have a definite need for corner outfield help.
  • Scott Boras told reporters (including Sportsnet.ca’s Shi Davidi) that the Blue Jays were one of the teams who had expressed interest in Japanese middle infielder Takashi Toritani.  This would be a rare case of a Boras client signing with Toronto, a disconnect that the agent attributes to the club’s policy against contracts longer than five years.  “They’re the only team that has said that limitation is five years. When you do that, you are cutting yourself off from a pool of talent that makes it very, very difficult to compete, particularly in the AL East,” Boras said.  (It should be noted that the Jays’ five-year policy probably isn’t applicable in Toritani’s case, as the 33-year-old infielder is very unlikely to receive that long a contract from any team.)

Tigers, Red Sox Swap Porcello For Cespedes

The Tigers and Red Sox have officially agreed to a deal that will send outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to Detroit in return for starter Rick Porcello, as C.J. Nitkowski of FOX Sports and MLB Network first reported on Twitter. Righty Alex Wilson and lefty Gabe Speier are also heading to Detroit, as WEEI.com’s Alex Speier reported (Twitter links).

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Kansas City Royals

In moving Porcello, who is arb-eligible a final time before reaching free agency (at a projected $12.2MM salary), the Tigers have made yet another stunning move involving the club’s high-powered rotation. He joins Doug Fister and Drew Smyly as former Detroit starters. The latter, of course, was part of the deal that brought David Price to Motown. Needless to say, Cespedes will add to an already-formidable middle of the order, while also filling an uncertain spot in the outfield.

For Boston, meanwhile, this swap closes a loop on last summer’s Jon Lester trade, which brought in Cespedes. The club added several other outfield pieces to a crowded situation, which made another deal of some kind seem inevitable. Bringing back an arm of Porcello’s quality would certainly be a nice consolation prize for missing out on a chance to bring back Lester. Cespedes is owed $10.5MM before he reaches the open market after the year, and will not be capable of receiving a qualifying offer due to a clause in his deal.

Lest anyone think that this trade settles things for these two organizations, preliminary reports, and common sense, suggest that both are angling for more additions to their staffs. For Detroit, the rotation now looks to be one arm shy, with ace Max Scherzer still available but the team insisting it is not maneuvering to add him. And for Boston, the addition of Porcello still leaves the team without the ace that it is said to be seeking.

With generally equivalent contractual situations between the two players — Porcello will cost slightly more, but comes with the possibility of a qualifying offer — this deal is a fairly straightforward talent swap.

Porcello, who is still not quite 26 years of age, had a breakout 2014 after years of promise. His 3.43 ERA was backed by his peripherals, even though his strikeout rate dropped, and ERA estimators have liked his work for some time. Porcello continues to induce grounders at about a 50% clip, and also went over 200 innings for the first time in his career. All said, he is a steady three-win arm that any rotation would be glad to have.

Cespedes, on the other hand, is himself only 29 and features plenty of power in his right-handed bat. Despite playing in Oakland for most of the last three seasons, Cespedes has hit more than twenty long balls in each campaign. But his ability to reach base has not been so consistent, and his overall production levels have fallen off since a huge rookie campaign back in 2011. On the other hand, defensive metrics are now more favorably inclined toward his work in left, leaving him — like Porcello — as an approximately three-win player.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweeted that the deal was finalized. Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reported early aspects of the swap (via Twitter).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


AL Central Notes: Tigers, Santana, Neshek, Viciedo

A reunion between Max Scherzer and the Tigers is “not happening,” a club official tells Peter Gammons (via Twitter).  What Detroit might do, however, is trade right-hander Rick Porcello to the Red Sox for a package of Yoenis Cespedes and Rubby De La Rosa.  Rumors of a Porcello/Cespedes deal arose a few days ago but talks between the two sides were “not hot” according to Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald.  Here’s some more from around the AL Central…

  • The Angels are searching for middle infield help and the TwinsEduardo Escobar is on their list of targets, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez tweets.  Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (also via Twitter) thinks the Halos could offer Minnesota a reliever in return, with Vinnie Pestano being “one name to watch.”
  • Also from Berardino (on Twitter), the Twins haven’t yet talked to free agent starter Ervin Santana.  The right-hander’s representatives are open to hearing from Minnesota, however, with a source telling Berardino that Santana “loves pitching in the cold.”
  • Pat Neshek‘s agent Barry Meister tells Berardino that he had a “social discussion” with Twins GM Terry Ryan but the two sides “haven’t had any substantive discussions at all” about the reliever rejoining the club.  Meister said that there has been “substantial interest from around the league in Neshek and another top reliever client, Sergio Romo.
  • The White Sox are telling teams that Dayan Viciedo is available, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports (Twitter link).  It’s no surprise that Viciedo is being shopped given that the Sox have been rumored to be exploring such outfield replacements as Melky Cabrera.  Viciedo hit .231/.281/.405 with 21 homers in 563 PA last season, providing below-replacement level value with -0.9 rWAR.

AL East Notes: Cespedes, Ichiro, Rays

The latest from the AL East..

  • The Red Sox spoke with the Tigers about a deal involving Yoenis Cespedes and Rick Porcello, but there wasn’t a match there, accoridng to Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com (via Twitter).  Yesterday, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald reported that those talks were “not hot” between the two teams.
  • Ichiro Suzuki‘s agent John Boggs says his client isn’t in a rush to find a new home, tweets Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. However, if the right offer came along, he would sign “in two seconds.” Ichiro is entering his age 41 season after hitting .284/.324/.340 in 385 plate appearances with the Yankees.
  • The Rays have reached an agreement with St. Petersburg that will allow the club to search for stadium sites in nearby Hillsborough County, reports Stephen Nohlgren of the Tampa Bay Times. Under the deal, the Rays will pay a set annual amount based on the amount of time remaining in their current lease of Tropicana Field, which expires in 2027. The Rays will pay $4MM per season until 2018, $3MM through 2022, and $2MM for the remainder of the term.
  • MLB is still investigating the Cubs on charges of tampering with former manager Joe Maddon, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Maddon, now with the Cubs, opted out of his contract with the Rays earlier this offseason. Per Tampa GM Matt Silverman, “they’re handling it.”

Brad Johnson contributed to this post.


Yoenis Cespedes Rumors: Sunday

Here’s the latest on trade rumors surrounding Red Sox outfielder Yoenis Cespedes:

  • The Tigers and Red Sox have discussed a potential deal involving Cespedes and Rick Porcello, although those discussions are “not hot” right now, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald tweets. Porcello, like Cespedes, has one year remaining before free agency. A Porcello/Cespedes deal would appear to make sense from the Red Sox’ perspective, but it might be trickier for the Tigers — earlier this week, ESPN’s Jayson Stark noted that the Tigers wouldn’t want to deal Porcello if they didn’t have an obvious replacement for him.
  • The Mets have not been involved in the bidding for Cespedes, WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford tweets. That’s probably not surprising, given that they have Curtis Granderson and the newly signed Michael Cuddyer to play the corner outfield positions.

 


Stark’s Latest: Zimmermann, Scherzer, Tigers

Only three free agents make Jayson Stark’s list of the top 10 players to watch during the Winter Meetings, reflecting the feeling from several baseball executives that the trade front could be much busier than the free agency front in the coming days.  Jon Lester is the key domino in the process, as in the words of one NL executive, “he sets the free-agent market and kick-starts the trade market. Depending on when he signs, he could create the greatest Winter Meetings in decades or the most boring.”  Here’s some more from ESPN’s Stark…

  • “The most widespread front-office conspiracy theory” sees the Nationals trading Jordan Zimmermann and then signing Max Scherzer.  This scenario is “so obvious it makes me question if it’s real,” one GM said.  Clearly a lot of factors would have to fall into place for the Nats to pull this off, though they’re known to be listening to offers for Zimmermann, who will be a free agent after the 2015 season.  Scott Boras, Scherzer’s agent, is known for waiting until deep into the offseason to find a preferred deal for his clients, which could give Washington more time to line up a Zimmermann trade.
  • Beyond Zimmermann, the Nationals are also listening to offers for Ian Desmond, Doug Fister, Denard Span and Tyler Clippard.  All of these players can hit free agency after 2015, making Washington the “team with the potential to make the biggest deal of the offseason. And maybe not just one,” Stark writes.
  • The Tigers are “listening intently” to offers for David Price and Rick Porcello, though they’ll only deal one of the two, and Detroit would only move Price if they can re-sign Scherzer.  “The Tigers have made it clear they aren’t subtracting any starting pitchers unless they have a replacement lined up,” Stark writes.  I’d note that the newly-acquired Shane Greene could be such a potential replacement for Porcello, who Stark says is the more likely to be traded than Price.
  • Phillies GM Ruben Amaro has told teams interested in Cole Hamels to make an offer if they wish, but the Phils are waiting to see where the big free agent arms go before they seriously start exploring a Hamels trade.  Several teams have said the Phillies’ asking price for Hamels is far too high, and one rival official tells Stark that the pitching market is too deep for the Phillies to expect both top prospects and Hamels’ entire contract to be absorbed in a deal.
  • Jeff Samardzija is likelier to be dealt before Hamels, one executive predicts, since the Athletics are more aggressively shopping their right-hander.  We’ve already heard that the White Sox, to name one team, have discussed a Samardzija trade with the A’s.  One exec warns that the A’s could have trouble finding their desired return for Samardzija, since “it’s just hard to give up a lot of value for a one-year pitcher.”
  • The Red Sox are open to trading any position player except for Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Rusney Castillo and Christian Vazquez, Stark writes.  It also goes without saying that David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia won’t be dealt, not to mention the newly-signed Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez.

AL Notes: Donaldson, Moss, Markakis, Tigers, Twins, Smoak

Athletics GM Billy Beane firmly rejected the recently-suggested idea that some kind of tension between he and Josh Donaldson played any role in the latter’s recent trade, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports. “It is so absurd to respond further is to give it credibility,” said Beane. We’ll take a closer look at Oakland on today’s podcast, which features beat reporter Jane Lee of MLB.com.

Here’s more from the American League:

  • The Athletics are “going to trade Brandon Moss,” an executive told ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark last night (Twitter link). We heard yesterday that the Indians were making a run at the slugger, and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that the pursuit continues today. Of course, as Lee reported last night (via Twitter), there are other teams looking into Moss.
  • Lingering concerns over neck issues may have played a role in the Orioles‘ decision not to top the Braves’ offer to Nick Markakis, Rosenthal reports. Markakis has been quite durable over the last two seasons since being diagnosed with a “small disc herniation,” but of course he has also failed to deliver much pop in that time.
  • Nevertheless, the Orioles did have the second-highest offer on the table to Markakis, per Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs (Twitter link). He hears that Baltimore offered four years and $40MM.
  • The Tigers are receiving strong interest in David Price and Rick Porcello, Rosenthal reports (links to Twitter). What Detroit would ask for in return for these starters remains a mystery, Rosenthal adds. Of course, there are several other big-name, 5+ service time pitchers who could potentially be had, and Rosenthal notes that all are still “in play.” He adds that the primary appeal of such arms is their generally below-market salary and the achievement of a year of exclusive negotiating rights. Implicit, of course, is that teams are interested not only in a reasonable hope of achieving excess value on the contract, but also in doing so without exposure to the massive downside risk of a longer-term deal.
  • The Twins will turn their attention to the pitching staff during the Winter Meetings, reports MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger. When asked what the team’s priority is, GM Terry Ryan left little doubt how he feels: “Pitching is, and I don’t think there’s any question. We’ve had our struggles on the mound, so we’ll continue to look at pitching first.”
  • Justin Smoak left money on the table to join the Blue Jays, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca reports. Agent Dustin Bledsoe told Nicholson-Smith that his client wanted the chance at everyday playing time at first more than the possibility of increasing his guarantee next year.