Rick Porcello had a rough first season with the Boston Red Sox, but his contract doesn’t look as bad when compared to what other pitchers have received.
Although the Boston Red Sox made numerous mistakes last offseason, namely, the contracts given to Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez, the four-year, $82 million dollar extension given to pitcher Rick Porcello was not one of them.
In evaluating any deal, it is absolutely critical that you do so from the state of mind in which the agreement was made and not after the fact, i.e. playing Monday morning quarterback. In looking back and re-examining the contracts signed in the winter of 2015, which all of Red Sox Nation is criticizing today as a result of their performances this past year, it became clear that not only did the Porcello deal make sense back when it was signed, but this past offseason makes it look like a steal.
Porcello signed the extension with the Red Sox before the season started in April of 2015. The annual average value (AAV) of the contract is $20.5 million, and it pays him for his age-27-through-30 seasons.
Prior to signing the extension with the Red Sox, Porcello had spent six seasons with the Detroit Tigers and was one of their most durable and reliable starters throughout his time there, having started 31, 27, 31, 31, 29 and 31 games, respectively. He was also a double-digit game winner in each of the six seasons.
In 2011, Porcello finished with an ERA of 4.75 and ERA+ of 87. In 2012, he finished the season with a 4.59 ERA and 93 ERA+. And in 2013, he finished with an ERA of 4.32 and an ERA+ of 96.
In 2014, which was his final season before agreeing to the contract with the Red Sox, Porcello finished with a career-high in wins (15), a career-best ERA of 3.43 and ERA+ of 113, and three complete game shutouts. Therefore, at the time of his deal with Boston, he was entering his seventh MLB season, coming off his best season yet and was only 25-years-old. How often do you see teams signing free agents entering their prime long-term? Never, and that is because until recently players were not being brought up to the majors at 21-years-old, like Porcello was, so they could get their six years of service time in order to reach free agency at a young age.
In addition to the timing being right for the Red Sox front office when they signed Porcello to the deal they did, if you consider his age and 2014 performance, it was also the market forces dictating him being worth an AAV of $20 million.
Next: Pre-Porcello Contract Market