With the free agent pitching ranks quickly thinning out, it seems veteran starter Rick Porcello is beginning to garner widespread interest. After yesterday brought word of the Mets’ pursuit of the right-hander, it now appears that the Red Sox are kicking the tires on the soon-to-be 31-year-old, according to reporting from Jason Mastrodonato of The Boston Globe. The reporter cites an industry source in saying that Boston and Porcello’s reps “remain engaged in discussions”.
We figured Porcello for a one-year deal worth $11MM at the outset of this offseason, but his representatives may be able to leverage multiple interested parties into a guarantee exceeding that projection. True, Porcello’s 2019 was ugly: he pitched to a 5.52 ERA (4.76 ERA) in 174.1 innings, while posting the lowest strikeout rates he’s exhibited since coming to Boston prior to 2015 (7.38 K/9). Still, there are still some underlying analytics that offer reason for optimism, including the high spin rate generated on Porcello’s breaking pitches–that is, if someone is apt to overlook his struggles with the home run ball (the righty allowed 31 taters in 2019, tied for seventh-most in the game). Perhaps it’s most judicious to simply say that teams in search of an innings-eater could do worse than a young-ish, former Cy Young winner in good health.
The Red Sox definitely figure to be one such team. As things stand, the team figures to call on Chris Sale, David Price, and Nathan Eovaldi next season–three pitchers with serious durability concerns. A Porcello re-signing wouldn’t raise many neck hairs in the Massachusetts area, but it would provide some stability for a rotation that, outside of Eduardo Rodriguez, is relatively short on it.
For what it’s worth, Mastrodonato provides some quotes Porcello made back in May when he expressed a desire to stay with the Sox. Speaking of a possible extension, the pitcher said that he and his reps had “expressed our willingness to take a discount to make that work”, but that the club basically didn’t feel like it was at financial liberty to give him the deal he was seeking. Whether the club, under the new direction of Chaim Bloom, has changed their thinking on Porcello’s value bears watching as the Winter Meetings get underway this week.