The trade rumors surrounding the Red Sox’ pitching search continue to escalate and the latest name to enter the mix is Tigers’ right-hander Rick Porcello, with rumors indicating that the Tigers and Red Sox could explore a trade revolving around Porcello and Red Sox outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.
Porcello, a former first-round draft pick who made his MLB debut at the age of 20 in 2009, really took a step forward in 2014, vaulting himself from a back-end starter to a mid-rotation or even #2 starter. He posted a career-low 3.43 ERA and his FIP of 3.67 largely supported his improvement, as Porcello owns a career 4.30 ERA. That success was partially aided by a career-low 1.8 BB/9 and, while his K/9 rate isn’t particularly impressive with Porcello whiffing just 5.7 per nine innings, he made up for it with a 49.0% ground ball rate, which was actually lower that his career average of 52.1%.
On the surface, it would seem silly for the Tigers, a perennial contender, to trade an up-and-coming starting pitcher of Porcello’s caliber for Cespedes, who is a decent left fielder but nothing special. With the Tigers likely to lose Max Scherzer in free agency, their rotation is taking a big hit and trading Porcello would further weaken their rotation depth.
However, the Tigers still do have a rotation headlined by David Price, Anibal Sanchez, and Justin Verlander (though that name is no longer as impressive as it would have been two years ago). Meanwhile, their outfield is looking like an area of weakness for the Tigers after trading Austin Jackson to the Mariners midseason and losing Torii Hunter to the Twins via free agency.
A Porcello-for-Cespedes trade would be a trade of needed rentals as the Red Sox would receive a necessary rotation upgrade and the Tigers would add a power bat to their outfield, with neither team on the hook to pay that player for more than a year. Porcello certainly isn’t the sexiest name for the Red Sox but he could be a relatively attainable target and he likely wouldn’t effect so much of the downgrade associated with moving from a pitchers’ paradise in Comerica Park to a hitters’ haven in Fenway Park due to his ground ball tendencies. It would be a beneficial trade for both sides and we could see more rumors in this vein in the coming weeks.