Rick Porcello Signs 4-yr, $82.5 Million Extension with Red Sox

RICK PORCELLO

The Red Sox announced last night that pitcher Rick Porcello has agreed to a four year extension worth in the neighborhood of $82,500,000. The righty also received a $500,000 signing bonus. He will be paid $20 million next year as well as in 2017, and $21 million in 2018 and 2019. His 2015 contract remains a mere $12.5 million.

Porcello was headed for free agency after this season. Following his trade from the Detroit Tigers in December for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, he came to terms on a one-year, Rick Porcello$12.5 million deal. The Red Sox now will have Porcello under contract until he’s 30 years old.

The 26-year-old is scheduled to start the team’s second game of the new season, Wednesday night against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Last year he went 15-13 with a career-best 3.43 ERA, and the first in which he pitched at least 200 innings (204). Lifetime, he is 76-63 with a 4.30 ERA, and a .547 winning percentage.

Since coming into the major leagues six years ago, he has consistently hit double figures in wins, but has never had an ERA lower than 3.43, which he attained last year, and which was his career best. Last year he led the American League in shutouts with three.

So, while this might seem like quite a bit of money for somebody who is just a bit above a lifetime .500 pitcher, the thought process must be that he is young and will only get better. Had he played out what could have been a contract year and done well, he surely would have fielded some bigger and longer offers.

Porcello grew up in Morristown, New Jersey, less than an hour from Yankee Stadium; he attended Seton Hall University, so it’s a good bet that Hank Steinbrenner would have been angling to bring him closer to home. That won’t happen for some time now.

Offseason Review: Did the Red Sox Do Enough?

red sox offseason

In signing two of the top free agent position players and revamping a depleted starting rotation, the Red Sox undoubtedly made progress this offseason. Yet, deep down, questions still remain as to whether they improved enough, and whether management could’ve done even more to upgrade a messy roster and steer Boston back to the postseason.

In analyzing the winter work of Ben Cherington, it’s important to remember the thorough incompetence of the baseline roster he sought to improve. As you are probably all too aware, the 2014 Red Sox were awful, ranking 18th in runs, 24th in slugging, 23rd in ERA and 22nd in WHIP. At 71-91, they finished dead last in the AL East, 25 games behind the runaway Orioles. Only three teams American League teams compiled a worse record.

Offseason Review

Accordingly, in seeking a swift rebuild, Cherington was at an immediate disadvantage, with the Red Sox basically trying to win a race after giving a head start to all their closest opponents. They would have to work incredibly hard just to get back in the conversation.

Thus, no time was wasted, as Boston committed a combined $192.5 million to Pablo Sandoval, Hanley Ramirez and Justin Masterson, before acquiring Rick Porcello and Wade Miley via trade, dealing from surplus to add quality.

The success of this approach, and, by extension, the degree to which the Sox will improve in 2015, rests largely on the ability of those five new arrivals to significantly outperform their predecessors. The probability of that happening is relatively high, with the collective 2014 WAR of the incoming players sitting at 11.5, compared to the awful 3 WAR accumulated by the forebears in the same position, namely Yoenis Cespedes, Will Middlebrooks, Brock Holt, Anthony Ranaudo, Rubby de La Rosa and Allen Webster.

Theoretically, the net increase of 8.5 WAR should help the Sox back above the .500 threshold, but, at this point, it’s difficult to foresee a quantum leap back into the 90-win range required to secure a wildcard, let alone the 95-win plateau typically needed to clinch the AL East.

Of course, we’ve seen this team march from worse starting points to loftier destinations, most recently in 2013, but, this time round, there seems to be far more uncertainty and far less magic surrounding the team. As Opening Day approaches, there are still so many landscape-altering factors to be determined, all with potentially major affects on the baseline win-loss record. Will the new superstars meet their expectations? At what point do the Sox abandon their no-ace strategy and pursue elite, frontline starting pitching? What impact will the new hitting coach have? Is the clubhouse culture compatible with another worst-to-first turnaround?

At this point, we just don’t know. This Sox team is harder to define and quantify than most in recent memory. In all likelihood, it’ll be better than the 2014 incarnation, but to what extent? Ultimately, that will only be discovered once this perplexing blend of players jogs onto the diamond in competitive action. Nobody knows what to expect, which, after all, is why 162 actual games are required to capture a definitive answer.

‘Tis The Season For Red Sox Trades!

red sox trades
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In need of adding starting pitchers to their rotation, the Boston Red Sox made a move early today acquiring lefty Wade Miley from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for starting pitchers Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa. Additionally, the BoSox moved arguably their most valuable piece of trade bait today in Yoenis Cespedes to the Detroit Tigers for Rick Porcello.

Unlike Webster and De La Rosa, Miley does not overpower hitters with his fastball. red sox trades wade rileyThe southpaw sits at 91MPH and heavily relies upon his slider for success. 2014 was not Wad Miley’s best season to date, but there were a few positives that can be taken away from it. Despite posting a 4.34 ERA in 33 starts, he managed to strike out 183 men in 201.1 innings and pitched much better on the road.

What Boston gave up in return may seem like a bit much for Miley, but the deal will work out well for both sides.

The Red Sox are looking to compete next year so they need a proven starter. Webster and De La Rosa have more upside than Miley, but right now the Red Sox are looking for consistency and were afraid to take a risk in 2015. Do not be surprised if Allen Webster has a breakout season next year as a starting pitcher and if Rubby De La Rosa is a highly-effective reliever.

With Anthony Ranaudo as the most qualified young candidate to start in 2015, perhaps the organization will take a step back and look to obtain an ace and a two starter next.

Headed to the Motor City along with Cespedes is Alex Wilson, who owns a career 3.38 ERA in 44 MLB appearances, and Gabe Speier, a 19-year-old who pitched well in the Gulf Coast League this past season but is not considered a top prospect by the Red Sox organization.

The Red Sox made out like bandits on this one despite both sides winning the trade. Even though Rick Porcello may seem like a big league veteran as he has played in the league since 2009, keep in mind he is only 25 years old which is three years younger than Alex Wilson.

With this in mind, Porcello had his first true breakout year last season when he red sox trades rick porcelloposted a 3.43 ERA in 32 appearances for the Tigers in which he ate up 204.1 innings and walked just 1.8 men per nine innings pitched. Expect him to pitch even better in 2015 and develop into a star pitcher in no-time.

In the Red Sox rotation, there is no question as to whether or not Porcello could be an effective number two starter because he could be based off of how well he pitched in 2014. He is set to earn $12.2 million next season which puts him on the cheaper side for a pitcher of his ability, saving the Red Sox a bit of money.

Cespedes, who the Red Sox acquired at the trade deadline in the Jon Lester deal, clubbed 22 home runs with a .301 OBP in his time split between Oakland and Boston in 2014. With the Boston Red Sox outfield crowded to being with (not to mention after the acquisition of Hanley Ramirez) it became apparent that the club would need to trade Cespedes.

Now Boston must look to get a true ace.

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Mike Napoli Undergoing Surgery for Sleep Disorder

Mike Napoli The Boston Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli is dealing with an obscure ailment that he hopes to alleviate with surgery on November 4th. The veteran slugger has sleep apnea which involves an obstruction in your breathing airways while you are sleeping. For Napoli, he is receiving bimaxillary advancement surgery to hopefully cure his condition.

The near 32-year-old struggled in 2014 while only playing in 119 contests. He hit 17 home runs and drove in 55 RBI. He only hit .248 on the season with a .789 OPS.

Over the limited season for Napoli, he missed time with finger, knee, toe and back injuries and did not provide much protection to David Ortiz in the Red Sox lineup. The first baseman has struggled to stay healthy and be a major part of any offense the last several seasons.

Yoenis Cespedes is the cleanup hitter right now to Ortiz, and Napoli will have to prove that he is healthy enough to be a productive part of a Red Sox lineup that struggled to score runs on a consistent basis in 2014.

If the Red Sox hope to contend in 2015, then Napoli needs to be healthy and productive and this surgery could help him rest easier at night during the season.

Is Tom Werner Hinting at a Jon Lester Return?

Jon LesterTom Werner might not always be the lead spokesperson for the Boston Red Sox, but, when he does speak, he has shown to have great insight into the workings that John Henry and Larry Lucchino don’t normally give on a regular basis.

In an interview on WEEI Thursday September 11, the Red Sox chairman talked about all the money the Red Sox will have to spend this off-season.

“I wouldn’t say that we have limitless money, but we’ve got a lot of money to spend and we’re determined to go into the free-agent market and improve the team,” Werner told WEEI.

Not only does he want to spend the money, but the front office also knows what it needs in order to improve in 2015—pitching.

“We spent some time over the last few weeks talking about exactly what we can do to improve,” said Werner about what the team needs to do this offseason to get better in the coming years. “I think that our trades at the end of July attacked the fact that we had a lack of offense. I think [Yoenis] Cespedes is a key player for us going forward. I think our signing of Rusney Castillo is good. But we know we need some front-line pitching talent.”

It has been apparent that the Red Sox need a front-tier pitcher who can step up in the mound every five days to give the team the chance to win nearly 35 times a season. But does this mean Jon Lester is in the fold?

Lester was part of a package to acquire slugger Cespedes from the Oakland Athletics, and he has shown that he wants to make the big bucks with his last free-agency deal of value.

The 30-year-old is not the only option the Red Sox have to spend money on during the offseason. James Shields, Max Scherzer and even Edison Volquez could be near the top of the Red Sox rotation and old friend Justin Masterson should see a long-term deal after a couple successful seasons as a front-line starter for the Cleveland Indians before a down year in 2014.

Lester might just be one of a few options the Red Sox take a look at, but Werner definitely wants to see improvement for everyone’s sake. Another last place finish is not what fans, or the ownership, want to see going forward.

“Last year, as we all know, was just a dream. This year is a nightmare,” said Werner to WEEI. “It’s been painful. I was at the game yesterday and it was just not a good experience for the fans, it wasn’t a good experience for the players, it wasn’t a good experience for me. The only thing I can take from it is we are determined to get back to being first next year.”

If the Red Sox spend the money on pitching, and possibly trade for one more bat, then a first place finish might be a plausible outcome in 2015. But Werner and Co. are focused on spending the money on a pitcher who may or may not be Lester.

How Have the Red Sox Trades Fared in August?

Boston Red Sox tradesIt’s been an entire month since the Boston Red Sox made numerous moves geared for future successes. It’s interesting — well, to me, at least — to take a look at how those guys have fared this August with their new ball clubs. Keep in mind, however, this is an extremely small sample size and doesn’t say much about their talent or value. Now, without further ado, let’s see how these guys have played (starting with the subtractions) this past month.

Those We’ve Lost During the 2014 Red Sox Trades

Jon Lester with Oakland Athletics (40 and 2/3 IP): 2.66 ERA, 2.86 FIP, 4.63 K/BB, and .278 BABIP.

Jonny Gomes with Oakland Athletics (40 PA): .250 AVG, .350 OBP, .250 SLG, .320 BABIP, and 73 wRC+.

Andrew Miller with Baltimore Orioles (12 IP): 0.75 ERA, 1.04 FIP, 5.67 K/BB, and .227 BABIP.

John Lackey with St. Louis Cardinals (38 and 1/3 IP): 4.23 ERA, 4.74 FIP, 3.50 K/BB, and .312 BABIP.

Felix Doubront with Chicago Cubs (7 IP): 1.29 ERA, 2.41 FIP, 4.00 K/BB, and .318 BABIP.

Jake Peavy with San Francisco Giants (41 and 1/3 IP): 2.40 ERA, 3.13 FIP, 3.10 K/BB, and .276 BABIP.

Stephen Drew with New York Yankees (80 PA): .153 AVG, .225 OBP, .306 SLG, .170 BABIP, and 40 wRC+

Corey Littrell with High-A Palm Beach (Cardinals’ Affiliate) (31 and 2/3 IP): 4.55 ERA, 4.78 FIP, 1.90 K/BB, and .383 BABIP

Both now ex-Red Sox position players (Drew and Gomes) have been horrendous with their respective clubs. The pitchers who were dealt, however, have been nothing short of stellar, with the exception of Lackey. Lackey had one really bad start against the Orioles where he allowed nine earned runs — which has distorted his numbers significantly — and he’s pitched well in every other start with St. Louis. Peavy, the first Boston player to be dealt, has been quite lucky with his unsustainable BABIP, but making half his starts in AT&T Park certainly helps. Finally, Doubront has only pitched one outing with his new team. Oh, and how incredible has Andrew Miller been? With Zach Britton and Miller in that bullpen, I wouldn’t want to be a left-handed hitter facing the Orioles.

Talent We Gained During the 2014 Red Sox Trades

Yoenis Cespedes (111 PA): .276 AVG, .297 OBP, .457 SLG, .309 BABIP, and 105 wRC+

Allen Craig (33 PA): .138 AVG, .242 OBP, .310 SLG, .176 BABIP, and 54 wRC+

Joe Kelly (28 IP): 3.86 ERA, 5.38 FIP, 1.00 K/BB, and .211 BABIP

Kelly Johnson (25 PA): .160 AVG, .160 OBP, .200 SLG, .267 BABIP, and -12 wRC+

Heath Hembree (6 IP): 4.50 ERA, 4.96 FIP, 0.40 K/BB, and .300 BABIP

Edwin Escobar (1 IP): 0.00 ERA, 3.13 FIP, 0.00 K/BB, and .000 BABIP

Eduardo Rodriguez with Double-A Portland (37 and 1/3 IP): 0.96 ERA, 2.42 FIP, 4.88 K/BB, and .299 BABIP

Well, Johnson’s tenure as a Red Sox didn’t last long, as the utility man was dealt to the Baltimore Orioles a mere month after being acquired by Boston. Speaking of trades with the Orioles, Rodriguez, who the Red Sox attained in return for Miller, has been lights out since joining the Red Sox’ organization. Continuing with the narrative of prospects Boston received in return for big-league talent, let’s talk about Escobar and Hembree. One’s a starter (Escobar) but made his MLB debut out of the bullpen, and the other’s a reliever (Hembree). Both, truthfully, haven’t played enough to pass proper evaluation on, so let’s continue with the three players who have logged multiple innings in the majors. The position players, in Craig and Cespedes, have followed completely different scripts upon their respective arrivals in Boston. Cespedes has been clutch as all heck and is now a new fan-favorite, while Craig has been injury-riddled and when he has played has been largely ineffective. Lastly, Kelly has pitched adequately with horrendous peripherals.