Red Sox Rumors: Mutual interest between Rick Porcello, New York Mets
By Sean Penney
The New York Mets are reportedly interested in Boston Red Sox free-agent pitcher Rick Porcello and there appears to be mutual interest.
Rick Porcello‘s venture into the free-agent market appears to be picking up steam, which means his tenure with the Boston Red Sox is probably over.
According to Matthew Cerrone of SNY, there’s mutual interest brewing between Porcello and the New York Mets.
The Mets have an opening in their rotation with Zack Wheeler bolting to Philadelphia in free agency. Porcello isn’t in the same tier of this free-agent class but he’s a reliable innings-eater at the back of any rotation at worst with upside for more.
Porcello has made at least 28 starts and tossed 170+ innings in each of the last nine seasons. That type of durability has value. He’s coming off a miserable year in which he went 14-12 with a 5.52 ERA but it’s not unreasonable to believe the 30-year old can bounce back to provide solid production.
The last six years shave shown a trend of Porcello alternating strong seasons with disappointing campaigns. Banking on that trend to continue is the gambler’s fallacy but teams might buy into Porcello recapturing that even-year magic in 2020. If nothing else, it’s hard to believe he’ll be worse than this year when he was among the worst pitchers in baseball.
The biggest issue for Porcello when he’s struggling has been the long ball. He led the majors with 38 home runs allowed in 2017 and coughed up 31 this year. He’s averaged 1.5 HR/9 over the last three seasons after posting a home run rate of 1.0 HR/9 or lower in seven of his first nine seasons.
While he was once a groundball heavy pitcher, Porcello has given up more fly balls in recent years after altering his approach to pitch up in the zone more to combat the rising launch angle movement. Clearly, it’s not working. Shifting gears back to his groundball tendencies could turn his career around.
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If Porcello insists on attacking the top of the strike zone, New York would be a decent fit for him. Citi Field was ranked in the middle of the pack for home runs this season by ESPN’s Park Factors but the stadium was in the bottom third over the previous two years. Porcello could trim that ERA by turning a few of those home runs into warning track outs. Moving to the lighter-hitting National League where lineups lack a designated hitter couldn’t hurt either.
If a one-year “prove-it” deal is in his best interest, a pitcher-friendly NL ballpark should be on Porcello’s radar.
Porcello is reportedly seeking a multi-year deal but may need to settle for an incentive-laden one-year offer in the $10-12 million range in the wake of a dismal season. That may still be too rich for Boston’s tight budget which is why many expect the right-hander to switch uniforms this winter.
However, if the Red Sox manage to unload one of their expensive starting pitchers in a trade, they will open another hole in their rotation, in addition to the one vacated by Porcello. Some of the savings from a salary-dumping deal could be used to re-sign Porcello to a team-friendly contract, a scenario he has been open to in the past.
That scenario may be off the table if more teams jump into the mix. The Red Sox would only be interested in retaining Porcello at a bargain rate and competition will only drive up that price out of their reach.