What is going to happen with Rick Porcello?
Coming into the season, many fans were left wondering why the Boston Red Sox had not tendered an extension to starter Rick Porcello after their World Series victory. Chris Sale got his money, a 5-year, $145 million extension that will keep him here until 2025. Fans thought that Porcello has earned his money, as well.
Now fresh off a 0.1 inning performance against the Yankees in London, in which he gave up six earned runs, Porcello is half way through a rather disappointing season.
Out of pitchers who qualify, Porcello is 76th out of 82 in ERA with a 5.07 through 94.0 innings. His walks per nine is up from 2.1 last year to 2.9 this year, or up more than double from 1.3 in his Cy Young season in 2016.
Alongside the higher walk rate, he has given up more hits, 102, than innings pitched, 94. He has done this in every year except 2016 and 2018, however. For comparison, Chris Sale and David Price have not done this in any season for their careers.
Porcello signed a 4-year, $88 million extension under former general manager Ben Cherington in 2015 right after being acquired from the Detroit Tigers. His contract will be up this winter and Dave Dombrowski will have to make a decision on whether to keep him or not.
He is going into his age-31 season, but he shown that he will throw upwards of 170-to-180 innings a year. Teams will pay for innings, even if it comes with a 4.30 ERA. However, the Red Sox will likely not have the flexibility to pony up for him with the young players that will soon be looking for their pay-day.
The right-hander has post-season experience as well, but just as his his this year has been, it is with many ups and downs. He has a career 4.73 ERA in the playoffs and has not gotten out of the 6th inning in seven starts. This past post-season he was nails versus the Yankees and the Dodgers, with a combined 1.74 ERA in 10.1 innings last year. He had a rocky series against the Astros, with a 7.20 ERA in 5.0 innings over two appearances.
Porcello will likely surpass 2,000 innings pitched this season, with nearly 400 more innings than Chris Sale, despite being just 30 years old. He broke into the big leagues as a 20-year old with Detroit in 2009. With that kind of usage already in his career, teams may also be weary of future stints on the Injured List.
With all of that said, Porcello will have a market this off-season and a team could throw money at him to pry him away from Boston. If the Red Sox offer him the qualifying offer at year’s end, he also could accept it after seeing what happened to Dallas Keuchel this past season.
There is a month before this year’s trade deadline and Dave Dombrowski, president of baseball operations, will do his due diligence to explore trading Porcello, but I would be surprised to see him moved at this point. If they decide to sell, the Red Sox could pull another Jon Lester-esque trade to the Oakland Athletics, who are in dire need of pitching. Considering their place in the Wild Card race in the American League, however, trading away rotation pieces makes little sense.