Detroit Tigers Won the Rick Porcello for Yoenis Cespedes Trade


The Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox swapped a pair of players in the final years of their respective contracts in December when the teams traded starting pitcher Rick Porcello for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes (and relief pitcher Alex Wilson).

At the time the trade looked like a fairly even swap. The Red Sox had an overabundance of outfielders and desperately needed starting pitching. The Tigers had recently acquired starting pitcher Shane Greene (and were probably close on the deal for Alfredo Simon) and were looking for a corner outfielder to replace the departed Torii Hunter.

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But now, as we approach the halfway point in the season, it looks safe to call the Tigers the big winner here. Cespedes has been a stable force in the middle of the Detroit lineup — he’s put up an .819 OPS with nine home runs — and has been more than solid with his defensive play in left field where he’s earned a +7 defensive runs saved rating so far. According to FanGraphs, Cespedes has already been worth 2.5 wins above replacement, putting him on pace to break the 4.0 WAR plateau for the first time in his major league career.

Rick Porcello, on the other hand, has struggled as a member of the Red Sox and might be on the verge of getting himself kicked out of Boston’s starting rotation. Here’s NESN’s Ricky Doyle thoughts after Porcello’s latest poor outing this weekend versus Kansas City.

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"But there absolutely could come a point — whether it’s tomorrow, next week, next month or next season — where Boston needs to decide whether it realistically can win games with Porcello taking the ball every fifth day. While he had a solid track record over his seven seasons with the Detroit Tigers, he simply hasn’t produced since joining the Red Sox."

Porcello’s ERA stands at 5.61 through 14 starts. His defense independent numbers are better than that (his FIP is 4.44, for instance), but that still means he’s only been worth about a half of a win above replacement, and that’s if you’re being generous.

And to make matters worse for Boston, they had inked Porcello to a contract extension that will pay him more than $20 million in each of the next four years before the season began. That would be a bitter pill to swallow if he’s deemed unfit to remain in the rotation.

There’s still a lot of baseball left to be played this season — time enough for Porcello to turn things around or for Cespedes to slump — but even in the most extreme scenario it’s hard to imagine this season even playing out as a push. Cespedes has been every bit the player the Tigers hoped they’d get. Porcello hasn’t been that player for Boston.

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